CI uses UN climate summit to announce sustainability plan

Conservation International (CI) has used the United Nations (UN) conference on climate change in Paris to announce its plan to drive the coffee industry toward total sustainability. On the first day of the global climate change negotiations, CI made public its plan to collaborate with its industry and agricultural-development partners to create a sustainable future for coffee producers. Over the next 100 days, CI will formalise the roles the partners, such as Starbucks, the Specialty Coffee Association of America and S&D Coffee and Tea will play in its Sustainable Coffee Challenge. “There is a tremendous opportunity to strengthen the coffee value chain, improve its resiliency, and ensure a thriving sector,” said S&D Coffee and Tea, Vice-President of Sustainability and Strategic Initiatives, Tracy Ging. “The first step is commitment.” CI has undertaken a number of studies on the likely effects climate change will have on the estimated 25 million smallholder coffee farmers around the world. The United States not-for-profit expects that as temperatures rise production will be hampered, as has recently been reported in Tanzania. In one study, CI found that across the world smallholder farmers are disproportionately vulnerable to climate change, and that socioeconomic factors limit their capacity to adapt. CI investigated the opportunity for Ecosystem Based Adaptation (EBA) practices, which encourages the use of farm management based on agro-biodiversity and ecosystem services, to resist, cope or recover from climatic events. EBA practices often take advantage of local knowledge, are based on renewable inputs, such as local materials from the farm or the landscape and have low implementation costs and labor needs. Examining the practices of coffee farmers in Central America, the study found that some of the most promising adaptation practices take advantage of existing ecological processes and biological diversity. It found the use of shade trees to be a particularly promising EBA. Following the study, CI recommends that governments revisit existing policies that undermine the use of eco-system based approaches, such as ongoing subsidies and the use of agrochemicals. The study also found that better articulation of climate change policies is necessary to help improve farmer livelihoods. One of the goals of the Sustainable Coffee Challenge will be to create a shared language for sustainability. “We need a common definition of sustainability for the coffee sector,” said Peter Seligmann, CI’s Chairman and CEO. “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.” The details of the Sustainable Coffee Challenge plan will be unveiled at the 4th World Coffee Conference in Ethiopia in March. Image credit: flickr’s Cop20 Lima

Leave a Reply

Send this to a friend