Compelling calls for collaboration at 1st Global Coffee Forum affirm role of Vision 2020

30 / Oct / 15

At the beginning of October 2015, Milan hosted the first Global Coffee Forum. Organized by the International Coffee Organization (ICO) and in cooperation with the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forest Policy, the Italian Coffee Committee, EXPO Milano, Fiera Milano and Italy’s leading coffee companies, the two-day event had a resounding message – more collaboration is needed.

Under the motto “a virtuous cycle of pleasure, health and sustainability for coffee”, leaders of the sector shared their views on the key challenges and future of coffee around these three themes. Among others, Robério Oliveira Silva, Andrea Illy, Giuseppe Lavazza, Michael Neumann, Ric Rinehart, Gunter Pauli, and Jeffrey Sachs all made compelling calls for collaboration to collectively address the challenges which are threatening the future of the coffee sector.

Michael Neumann, from the Neumann Kaffee Group, provided a personal review of the coffee market from as early as 1950 to an outlook to 2030. His projection is that demand will increase from 50 million bags today to 200 million by 2030. He stated that “Given the productivity challenges of farmers, it is imperative to involve governments to support smallholders and also help them mitigate the impacts of climate change. As per the coffee industry, it will have to put the people, the farmers, into focus and not the product. Collaborative initiatives that are working together in a truly non-competitive way need to be scaled up in order to achieve a level playing field”, concluded Mr. Neumann.

In his presentation the “virtuous cycle of coffee”, Mr. Rhinehart from the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) stressed that it is not realistic to celebrate coffee and pleasure while producers are left in poverty and talk about health in an unhealthy market. His final remark was that “no company, country or NGO can do it alone. The sector needs an active collaboration between trade, roasters, public sector and civil society. We will only be successful if we create collaborative impact with a view to create a shared value for all actors everywhere”.

Additional voices emphasizing the need for collaboration and which generated a high level of energy among the audience were those of Jeffrey Sachs, Director at the Earth Institute, and Gunter Pauli, author of The Blue Economy. Whilst Mr. Sachs, deliberate in his urgency, stressed the importance of the coffee sector to work in unison and align its efforts with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Mr. Pauli inspired the audience by demonstrating the versatility of coffee beyond its conventional utilization.

With demand for collaboration ubiquitous throughout the forum, the presentation of Vision 2020 received resounding support. Being the biggest public-private alliance in the coffee sector to date, the initial partners of Vision 2020 – 4C Association, ICO and IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative – jointly presented the current thematic areas within the collaboration framework and invited all coffee stakeholders to become involved and collectivize their impact for the benefit of sustainable coffee communities.

To find out more and become involved in Vision 2020, please go to the website:

The presentations of the speakers of the Global Coffee Forum can be downloaded on the Forum’s website: