The new Executive Director of the International Coffee Organization (ICO), José Dauster Sette, says sustainability is the single most important issue facing the coffee sector, and has again highlighted the ICO’s need for better quality data and statistics with which to work.
Speaking at the First World Coffee Producers Forum in Colombia in July, Mr Sette said, “Our members recognize the importance of coffee to the economies of many countries, especially in efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. They also recognize the importance of coffee to the livelihoods of more than one hundred million people all over the world, many of them smallholder farmers. Coffee is a much needed source of foreign exchange and rural income, as well as a key contributor to food security. In its more than 50 years of existence, the ICO has learned to adapt and become a platform for initiatives promoting the sustainable development of the world coffee economy.”
Mt Sette said that, in order to maintain its relevance, the ICO is currently finalizing a review of its activities, which will result in an Action Plan covering the next five years. “The most important challenge we face is how to make the world coffee sector more sustainable,” he said. “We must ensure a healthy environment in which the interests of commercial sectors of the global industry are aligned with the needs of the other links in the global coffee value chain, thereby achieving sustainability over time. This is the overarching mission of the ICO.
“In our work, we must strike the right balance among all three pillars of sustainability: economic, social and environmental. Many times, sustainability work focuses too narrowly on social and environmental questions, while the economic welfare of parts of the value chain, especially growers, is relegated to a secondary plane. Above all, sustainability must be ‘grower centric’, since farmers are the basis of the entire coffee value chain.”
Mr Sette went on to say that the ICO and coffee sector as a whole need accurate and comprehensive data, especially with regard to production. “Efforts will be concentrated on strengthening the quality of our statistics and economic analysis,” he said, noting that the quality of the ICO’s statistical work depends heavily on data submitted by members, which, unfortunately, is often incomplete, out of date or unreliable. “In order to remedy this deficiency, we intend to build up the capacity of members to provide data by organizing workshops and providing appropriate reference materials,” Mr Sette told the conference.
For more details about what Mr Sette had to say at the coffee forum in Colombia, see the forthcoming September 2017 issue of Coffee & Cocoa International.