Coalition of Over 65 Partners Agree to Collective Actions in Industry-Wide Effort to Make Coffee Sustainable

April 17, 2017

Global Effort to Make Your Morning Coffee Sustainable

The future of coffee depends on the ability of the sector to find effective solutions that address the greatest challenges facing coffee. Sustaining coffee in light of climate variability, aging farmers, aging trees and volatile markets will require new collaborations that effectively replicate and scale up successful programs efficiently.

“A key tenet of the Sustainable Coffee Challenge is to encourage partners to tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing the coffee sector by working collaboratively. We invite all stakeholders to join in these efforts,” said Conservation International’s Bambi Semroc, who leads the Sustainable Coffee Challenge. “By joining together we will be able to transform the coffee sector and ensure its future while also creating a roadmap for other agricultural products to follow.”

The Global Specialty Coffee EXPO taking place this week in Seattle, WA, will kick-start a 100-day process to establish targets and milestones for each of the following Collective Action Networks:

Coffee Farm Renovation and Rehabilitation

Coffee farmers rely on productive and resilient trees to remain in the market and sustain their livelihoods. Yet disease, age, and climate change threaten the ability of current trees to keep up with growing demand. According to a 2015 IDH study, there is a need to replant an estimated 2.2 million hectares globally. Assuming 3,500 trees per hectare, this translates into roughly 7 billion coffee trees to meet future demand. This initiative establishes a 1 billion coffee tree target and will identify best practices for farm renovation and rehabilitation that ensures positive outcomes for both productivity and the environment.

“The objective is to coordinate efforts, share experiences and resources to accelerate renovation of coffee farms and to leverage these commitments to unlock additional resources for rehabilitation of coffee and reforestation on coffee farms.” said Semroc.

Members of this initiative include Arizona State University, Conservation International, Counter Culture Coffee, ECOM, Fairtrade International, Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA), Root Capital, Starbucks, TechnoServe, U.S. Agency for International Development, UTZ and World Coffee Research.

Improved Labor Practices and Labor Supply

Climate change, rural to urban migration, and market volatility are disrupting labor supply and practices across the industry. The coffee sector is increasingly recognizing the need to ensure a continued supply of labor and good labor conditions for these workers and new initiatives are emerging to address these issues. Labor conditions in the agricultural sector, however, are bigger than any one company, government agency or even sector. The group will review these efforts and develop new, scalable approaches to improving labor conditions in high priority areas.

Members of this initiative include Conservation International, Catholic Relief Services, Counter Culture Coffee, Fairtrade International, Keurig Green Mountain, Inc., the Specialty Coffee Association and UTZ.

Scaling Up Sustainable Coffee Sourcing

Many retailers and roasters are making commitments to sustainably source their coffee — and many others are considering how they could make and achieve such a commitment. This effort asks participants to work together to achieve sustainable sourcing commitments and inspire others to set sourcing targets. Through this initiative, companies who are advanced in these efforts will share their experiences, metrics, and best practices to help other retailers and roasters along their path to sustainability.

“There is tremendous opportunity to share experiences and lessons learned to avoid reinventing the wheel and develop sustainable markets even further,” said Semroc.

Conservation International, Fairtrade International, Fair Trade USA, Farmer Brothers, Keurig Green Mountain, Inc., McDonald’s, S&D Coffee & Tea, Solidaridad, The Sustainability Consortium, and UTZ have all initially signed onto this initiative.

Mapping + Monitoring of Coffee and Forests

As rising temperatures, drought and changing weather patterns push coffee crops into new areas, this initiative will enable the industry to better monitor how coffee is impacting forest cover. Participants will work to identify innovative ways of mapping and monitoring the extent of coffee and forests in priority geographies most likely to experience significant shifts in suitable areas due to climate change. This work will enable the industry to understand the role of coffee in deforestation and forest conservation and where additional incentives for conservation are needed. In addition, members of this initiative will explore opportunities for scaling up innovations that combine productivity with conservation.

Members of the Mapping + Monitoring of Coffee and Forests include Arizona State University, Conservation International, Fairtrade International, The Sustainability Consortium, and UTZ.

Industry members interested in joining the Sustainable Coffee Challenge are encouraged to contact

About the Sustainable Coffee Challenge

The Sustainable Coffee Challenge convenes, unites and urges the coffee sector and conservation partners across the industry to spur the actions and investments necessary to make coffee the first sustainable agriculture product in the world. The Challenge is committed to stimulating demand for sustainable coffee across the value chain, from the policymaking level to the final consumer. By encouraging demand for sustainable coffee, it leads to investments that enable the transition to a sustainable production and ensuring the coffee we drink is a sustainable product.

About Conservation International

Conservation International uses science, policy and partnerships to protect the nature people rely on for food, fresh water and livelihoods. Founded in 1987, Conservation International works in more than 30 countries on six continents to ensure a healthy, prosperous planet that supports us all. Learn more about Conservation International and its groundbreaking “Nature Is Speaking” campaign, and follow Conservation International’s work on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.