Editor’s note:The 600 billion cups of coffee we consume every year globally start out as berries on trees in the tropics. In the coming years, those trees — and the farmers who harvest and export their beans — will be buffeted by an unpredictable mix of market forces and climate change, threatening the global stability and sustainability of coffee and of the forests and farms that make it possible.
In response, the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, a new initiative launched in part by Conservation International (CI), aims to make coffee the world’s first completely sustainable agricultural commodity. The initiative, still in its formative stages, will begin to take shape at the upcoming World Coffee Conference in Ethiopia.
With major organizations adding momentum to the effort, the next step is providing direction, as Bambi Semroc, a CI senior strategic adviser, explains in the following interview. With forecasts of growing demand and a changing climate, she says, the time to protect this crucial crop is now.
Question: What is significant about how coffee is grown?
Answer: Over centuries, coffee has become a staple in nearly every corner of the world. People drink about 600 billion cups of coffee every year. It’s also a $22 billion global industry that provides essential income for millions of people across the sector, including over 25 million smallholder farmers who also serve as important stewards for the world’s tropical forests. Continue reading →