Sustainable Coffee Challenge Releases 2019 Commitments Report Highlighting Transparency, Accountability Trends in the Coffee Sector

December 5, 2019

Challenge Calls for More Transparency, Collaboration From Members

Arlington, Va. (December 5, 2019) – The Sustainable Coffee Challenge today released its 2019 Commitments Hub Report to highlight trends among the sustainability pledges and commitments made by its over 135 members as of June 2019. These pledges and commitments, affecting over 30 countries, are moving coffee toward becoming the world’s first sustainable agricultural product.

As part of the Challenge’s mission to increase transparency, accountability and collaboration in coffee sector sustainability, the report details notable trends in members’ efforts to achieve sustainable coffee sourcing, conserve nature and improve the livelihoods of coffee farmers and their communities.

Bambi Semroc, Vice President of Sustainable Markets and Strategy at Conservation International, shared the following highlights from the report:

  • Among overall members (countries, producing organizations, civil society, etc.), the report shows that over 50% of commitments made came mainly from retailers and roasters.
  • Many major brands such as Starbucks, McDonald’s, Keurig Dr Pepper, Nespresso and Nescafé are leading the way with sustainable coffee sourcing.
  • Most commitments among members focus on sourcing policies, technical assistance and climate change.  

Most country-focused commitments are in Latin America, targeting Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua—forming 18% of global coffee production. Most commitments from these four countries tackle climate change and technical assistance, and nearly a quarter of the commitments track progress by counting the number of trees planted.

The Commitments Hub was created for Challenge members to report their commitments publicly alongside peers to encourage further action, collaboration and accountability. The report, says Semroc, also aims to prompt more stakeholders in the coffee sector to state their sustainability commitments.

“For other agriculture commodities, public platforms to showcase and monitor progress against  commitments already exist. That has not existed before for coffee, which is why this report and Hub were created to make the coffee sector transparent and accountable,” said Semroc.

The Hub further supports members in showcasing the contribution of the coffee sector to the global sustainability agenda and the United Nations  Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For instance, in support of SDG 15, the Challenge has committed to renovating and restoring 1 billion trees

Semroc also shared three ways partners of the Sustainable Coffee Challenge can improve:

  1. Being more transparent on their commitments in both Africa and Asia.
  2. Many partners are working to meet short-term, or 2020 commitments. More long-term investment is needed as coffee faces tough hurdles from climate change and price volatility over the next decade.
  3. While there is a lot of supply chain collaboration, there is a tremendous need for broader peer-to-peer collaborations among roasters and retailers in order to achieve sustainability, which the Challenge is working to facilitate through its collective action networks.

Conservation International has been working in the coffee sector for over 20 years and in 2015, together with Starbucks, launched the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, which is uniting the coffee industry —growers, traders, roasters, retailers, governments and NGOs—in an effort to make coffee the world’s first sustainable agricultural commodity. With over 135 members including corporations, governments, NGOs and research organizations, the Challenge is focused on scaling up sustainable sourcing, farm renovation and rehabilitation, improving labor practices and supply and mapping and monitoring of coffee and forests.

The full 2019 Commitments Hub Report is available at sustaincoffee.org.

About Conservation International

Conservation International uses science, policy and partnerships to protect the nature that 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, the groundbreaking  "Nature Is Speaking" campaign and its series of virtual reality projects: “Drop in the Ocean”"My Africa,"  “Under the Canopy" and "Valen's Reef." Follow Conservation International's work on Conservation News, our blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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 agricultural 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.