GCP on the power of public-private partnerships in coffee-producing countries

Why does GCP focus on activating stakeholders in coffee-producing countries to address sustainability issues in collaboration? Why is it key to complement this important local action with improving both the demand and supply of sustainable coffee to achieving a thriving and sustainable coffee sector for next generations? Annette Pensel, GCP Executive Director, sat down with the World Coffee Alliance to discuss these pressing matters in two recent webinars.

“There is a great need for more transparency and honest conversations in today’s coffee sector, and these conversations need to include the voices of producers who often go unheard.” These were the words of GCP’s Executive Director, Annette Pensel during a panel discussion on circular economy, challenges and socio-economic impacts in the coffee sector, resilience strategies and the role of domestic coffee markets hosted by the World Coffee Alliance.

“We need to listen to the needs of coffee growers in order for coffee to be a viable, attractive business for the youth, for the next generation of farmers,” Pensel said, explaining that through collective action it will be possible to harness the power of big data and the good work already being done to speed up transformation in the sector. It is for this reason, she said, that GCP has worked to provide a space for collective leadership and collective action, creating systemic change towards a thriving, sustainable coffee sector for generations to come.

“There is a lot of good work happening in the coffee sector and GCP helps to align these efforts through pre-competitive collaboration, with a strong focus on local action for global results.” 

Pensel’s participation in the webinar comes after a focused conversation with Joseph de Villiers, CEO of WCA as part of the WCA “Straight Talk” series where Pensel talked about the significant opportunities in hands of public-private coffee stakeholders in coffee producing countries to further enhance a conducive business environment for sustainable coffee production. GCP supports this through its network of Country Platforms, National Sustainability Curricula, aligned measurement and GCP Collective Action Initiatives co-funded by GCP global members. 

“Everyone benefits from a resilient coffee supply chain, but the challenges facing coffee farming communities are different from country to country; an often neglected, but highly important factor in coffee sustainability advancement is local enabling environments. This is why GCP’s work with public-private Country Coffee Platforms, National Sustainability Curricula, and Collective Action Initiatives to address pressing sustainability issues is so important.”  

The National Sustainability Curricula combine local and global knowledge on Good Agricultural Practices and Sustainability Practices for sustainable, profitable coffee production, and result in a much more aligned, tailored messaging for coffee farmer training and extension services. 

“Local ownership for sustainability advancements through the National Sustainability Curricula and other strategies, including conducive coffee policies, helps to improve crucial access to knowledge, inputs and other services for coffee producers, especially smallholders.” 

Other work highlighted included the Delta Project, a multi-stakeholder initiative by GCP, the International Coffee Organization and the Cotton sector. This project is designed to bridge the gap in measuring and reporting sustainability performance across sustainability standards and initiatives, and across agricultural sectors. It aims to support public and private actors in quantifying their SDG commitments, improving the quality of support and services for farmers in the future, including better financing terms, and enhancing favorable government policies that promote sustainability for agricultural sectors. 

The Delta framework can be used by producers, buyers and governments alike. Other GCP initiatives include the Coffee Data Standard, already available and ready to be used for aligned measurement of sustainability progress at coffee farm level, and the GCP Baseline Coffee Code, which is currently being enhanced to help foster a common understanding of baseline sustainability for coffee production. 

“To make economic viability of sustainable coffee farming work also for the next generation, and to achieve coffee farmers’ prosperity, is it key to continually increase the demand for and supply of sustainably produced coffees”, Pensel said.  

“We encourage our GCP Members from roaster and retailer side to increase sustainable sourcing from diverse origins, and to transparently share information about their sustainable purchases through GCP’s collective reporting mechanism in an aligned way, using the GCP Baseline Coffee Code as a reference”. 

The virtual event included representatives from Fairtrade International, The International Coffee Organization, The British Coffee Association, PwC and the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA).