Why measuring sustainability progress matters

Coffee production faces many sustainability challenges – from low prices and poor working conditions to deforestation and unhealthy soil. However, the sector has also seen an incredible rise in efforts to make coffee more sustainable. A growing number of companies have publicly committed to transparency and purchasing certified and sustainable coffees. Others are developing their own internal sustainability sourcing programs  or allocating resources to projects that improve infrastructure, gender equality and livelihoods. 

With so many different sustainability efforts, retailers, end-buyers and consumers may be faced with unclear messaging and confusion in understanding the sustainability attributes of a particular purchase or intervention. This is true even among GCP’s membership, which includes representatives spanning the entire coffee supply chain. The data they generate and the systems they use to measure sustainability vary considerably.

In response to this, GCP has developed ways to streamline this data in order to better monitor individual and collective performance towards the Sustainable Development Goals. The Coffee Data Standard highlights 15 sustainability indicators in 3 categories: economic, social and environmental. By using this tool, GCP members can show their progress and learn what works (and what doesn’t).

The Coffee Data Standard is being used as a foundation for the Delta Project, a 3-year collaboration between the Global Coffee Platform (GCP), the International Coffee Organization (ICO), the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), and the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC).

GCP also encourages participation in Roaster & Retailer Reporting, which gives companies a way to transparently promote their purchases and to show progress towards their own sustainability goals.

An important feature of these measurement tools that stakeholders across the sector are finally able to compare their sustainability interventions. Through GCP, companies can demonstrate their impact, support farmer services, and learn from other stakeholders.

Want to learn more? Watch our webinar on measuring sustainability progress, view the Coffee Data Standard or contact us.