World coffee leaders make key commitments at thirds ICO’s CEO & Global Leaders Forum

International Coffee Organization

The International Coffee Organization (ICO) led its third CEO & Global Leaders Forum (CGLF) on 8 September with the goal of creating a ‘sector-wide dialogue’ with individuals from across the coffee value chain.

These include top executives, producers, traders, roasters, retailers, high-profile policy leaders, development partners, and members of civil society.

Together, they examined the outcomes of the Coffee Public Private Task Force (CPPTF)’s work, and identified measurable commitments in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This was done with a goal to create a sustainable future for producers and the wider coffee sector.

The CPPTF is a model which strives to create public and private dialogue to mobilise efforts and resources that will elevate existing individuals, promote coffee sector sustainability initiatives, and fill the gaps in the industry where no initiatives exist.

The forum addressed the volatility of coffee prices and its relationship with extreme weather events.

At the event, the CGLF reiterated the members’ commitment to work with the ICO to solve these ‘structural weaknesses’ of the coffee sector to ensure sustainable growth and prosperity.

Key commitments include further strengthening collaboration across the coffee sector, and to look beyond specific supply chains into a jurisdictional and landscape approach to address the challenges of farmers.

The CGLF also agreed to strengthen the public intervention space, working to create a level playing field and transform the coffee sector, and to further strengthen the ICO Coffee Public Private Task Force as a key joint space for dialogue and action for the coffee sector.

The last key commitment was to concentrate on the CPPTF’s suggested areas of focus including farmers’ living and prosperous income, market transparency, market financing, building resilient sustainable coffee systems, and gender, diversity, and inclusion.

A keynote speech was delivered by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University and President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, with interventions from Brazil, the National Federation of Coffee-growers of Colombia, Starbucks, and Volcafe.

In his speech, Sachs expressed a need for urgent action as, “sustainable development does not come out of market forces; rather, it will arise from partnerships between governments, communities, and companies in a much more complex way than today”.

Sachs suggested that the coffee sector should focus on its joint shared goods, in the form of the UN’s SDG, and work together in a pre-competitive manner. There is also a need, he said, to collaborate with international development institutions.

This, along with an intense discussion on how to find a permanent solution for coffee’s price volatility, inspired the CGLF audience.

The CGLF plans to meet again in early September 2022, alongside the World Coffee Conference that is to be held in Bangalore, India.

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