Happy Earth Day, coffee lovers!
Our shared environment provides myriad gifts to celebrate today and every day, but we would be remiss not to highlight one of our favorite natural gifts: coffee.
With 65% of Americans drinking coffee each day (according to our latest National Coffee Data Trends (NCDT) Report), coffee is a mainstay in millions of people’s daily lives, including 25 million smallholder farmers around the world. Coffee is certainly far too beloved and important to take for granted as we all work to protect the health of our environment.
Climate change could have significant impacts on coffee, which is uniquely vulnerable to temperature changes and extreme weather, which can damage plants and worsen diseases and pests. Some estimates say that without mitigations, climate change could reduce land suitable for growing coffee by half by 2050.
Clearly, combatting climate change requires action and achievement across our global society. For our part, the coffee community has been a leader in seeking to make coffee the world’s first truly sustainable agricultural commodity, across all three aspects of sustainability as defined by the United Nations – economic, social, and environmental.
Coffee companies across the supply chain have adopted ambitious commitments and comprehensive programs to achieve sustainability, with efforts addressing everything from land use to farmer livelihoods and more. Highlights and summaries of such efforts are available in NCA’s Sustainability Showcase. As of 2019 (the last year for which we have aggregated data), the coffee community had committed more than $531 million to sustainability efforts around the world.
As just one example, NCA’s 2020 Origin Charity Award recipient TechnoServe specializes in business approaches to reducing poverty worldwide. TechnoServe’s coffee programs across Latin America, Africa, and Asia focus on four key drivers of impact that improve farmers’ livelihoods and create greater value across the supply chain:
● Better Farming: TechnoServe has trained more than 400,000 coffee farmers on sustainable agronomy practices, helping them to increase their productivity and income.
● Better Business: TechnoServe has helped farmers construct 266 new coffee-processing businesses and advised more than 760 existing processing businesses. This support has helped improve coffee quality and market access, increasing the incomes of 500,000 farmers globally.
● Better Supply Chains: TechnoServe has worked with partners across the coffee ecosystem to develop practical and sustainable solutions to supply-chain issues, including access to finance and improved transparency.
● Better Environment: Pioneering simple, cost-effective solutions, TechnoServe has helped 843 businesses in the coffee value chain to adopt sustainability standards and create positive environmental and social impacts in their communities.
Research also plays a key role. As part of our overall positive agenda for the future of coffee, NCA works with organizations like World Coffee Research to advocate for investments in research and development that will protect coffee plant health and help meet global demand sustainably, including through U.S. government programs and funding.
To further enhance the achievement of sector-wide goals and the implementation of multistakeholder initiatives, coffee leaders support efforts like the Sustainable Coffee Challenge (SCC). The SCC’s 2050 goals unite public and private sector partners committed to conserving natural resources and helping coffee farmers thrive while producing coffee more sustainably than ever and meeting growing global demand. In SCC’s Commitments Hub, you can explore 169 commitments being implemented from farm to cup.
Numerous other partners are working to drive solutions and measure impact. For example, the International Coffee Organization is currently working with the International Trade Centre to map global coffee sustainability efforts with the aims to:
● Provide greater transparency on sustainability investments in coffee-producing countries
● Enable insights on thematic concentrations, synergies, and gaps
● Encourage further collaboration, partnerships, and coordination
A growing share of coffee meets various definitions for sustainable sourcing. The Global Coffee Platform’s 2021 sustainability snapshot found that about half the coffee sourced by reporting companies met GCP’s standards for “sustainable coffee purchases.” According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, nearly 40% of all coffee purchased in 2020 (1.4 million tons) was sustainably sourced and compliant with voluntary sustainability standards or a corporate sustainability initiative.
In the United States and around the world, coffee drinkers and businesses depend on a truly global supply chain that must start with thriving coffee farmers and a healthy environment. At NCA, we are working hard to support members’ sustainability efforts and to maintain strong multistakeholder relationships that advance the achievement of common goals. That’s something worth celebrating.