Global Coffee Platform reveals new sustainability code

Coffee code

Multi-stakeholder membership association Global Coffee Platform (GCP) has released its new Coffee Sustainability Reference Code that outlines foundational principles to achieve sustainable coffee production.

Released in commemoration of International Coffee Day on 1 October, the code aims to help the coffee sector collectively advance farmers’ prosperity, improve well-being, and promote nature conservation through creating a common language.

This is the result of its consultative revision of GCP’s Baseline Coffee Code.

“The Coffee Sustainability Reference Code helps to enhance and align work underway so that more coffee farmers can be reached, and to encourage all coffee production to be sustainable,” says Annette Pensel, GCP Executive Director.

The code is centred on three dimensions: economic prosperity, social well-being, and environmental stewardship, and outlines 12 principles that are broken down further into practices. The expected outcomes for sustainable coffee production and processing are also defined.

The code also defines five critical practices: elimination of the worst forms of child labour, elimination of forced labour, no deforestation, no use of prohibited pesticides, and the newest addition, continuous improvement.

“We can collectively undertake strong concerted action to support a more sustainable and resilient future for farmers and the sector overall, but to do so, we need a shared understanding of baseline sustainability on which other innovations at farm level and beyond can be built,” says Gelkha Buitrago, GCP Director Programs and Corporate Partnerships.

The Coffee Sustainability Reference Code serves as a simplified and fit-for-purpose framework and takes into account ongoing challenges in the coffee sustainability landscape such as climate change, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

GCP believes this new code will help the industry align its activities, inspire continuous improvement, and accelerate both individual and collection action.

“While the Coffee Sustainability Reference Code addresses the beginning of the supply chain, with farmers on the ground, downstream actors are expected to share the responsibility for sustainability,” says Pensel.

“This includes supporting and incentivising the efforts of coffee farmers to introduce, maintain, and go beyond these baseline principles across all dimensions, as well as promoting equitable trading and sourcing practices.”

GCP is hosting a 45-minute webinar on 4 November to explore how the Coffee Sustainability Reference Code was developed, how it is relevant today, and actions that coffee industry leaders and actors can take to address challenges.

To register for the webinar, click here or for more information on GCP visit

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