Conservation International (CI) has announced the launch of the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, a call to action to make coffee the first sustainable agricultural product in the world. The announcement came as ministers gathered in Paris to debate a new climate agreement at COP21 and as momentum builds for businesses to take direct action to combat climate change.
The Sustainable Coffee Challenge aims to transform coffee production, moving specialty and mainstream producers toward sustainability. It will convene industry, conservation and agricultural development partners to develop a common framework for sustainability in the coffee sector.
Over the course of 100 days (from end November 2015), CI will formalize engagement with partners for the challenge, while developing a plan to drive the industry toward total sustainability. The initial plan of action will be unveiled to coincide with the 4th World Coffee Conference next March in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Currently, nearly half of the world’s coffee is being produced according to a sustainability standard, a figure that does not yet account for a number of recent significant investments made by the sector to support farmers in their transition to more sustainable practices. However, only 12 per cent was sold as sustainable coffee in the market, so the Sustainable Coffee Challenge will work to strengthen demand for sustainably produced coffee and better account for progress made within the sector.
“We need a common definition of sustainability for the coffee sector,” said Peter Seligmann, Chairman and CEO of Conservation International. “This will require commitments by roasters to support increased demand for sustainability. It will also require improved measurement of how far the sector has come in the sustainability journey – and just how far we have to go.”
CI kicked off this challenge with key partners including Starbucks Coffee Company, the Specialty Coffee Association of America, IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative, 4C Association, Allegro Coffee Company, Ceres, Committee on Sustainability Assessment, Counter Culture Coffee, ECOM Agroindustrial Corp Ltd, Fairtrade America, Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST), HIVOS, Keurig Green Mountain, Lutheran World Relief, Pelican Rouge Coffee Roasters, S&D Coffee & Tea, Solidaridad and SustainAbility.