Work begins to strengthen GCP Baseline Coffee Code

Work has started on the enhancement of the GCP Baseline Coffee Code, which will help foster a clear common understanding of baseline sustainability. We hear from GCP’s Gelkha Buitrago, Director Programs and Corporate Partnerships on why this project will be seminal and timely.  

“We can collectively undertake strong concerted efforts to support a more sustainable and resilient future for producers and the sector overall. To do so, we need a clear common understanding of baseline sustainability. This understanding will be a prerequisite for a thriving and sustainable coffee sector.” 

These were the words of GCP’s Gelkha Buitrago, Director Programs and Corporate Partnerships while reflecting on the kick-off meeting of GCP Baseline Coffee Code Revision Project.  

The GCP Baseline Coffee Code (BCC), previously the Baseline Common Code, was last revised in 2015. With the increasing impacts of a changing climate, the on-going coffee price crisis, and a global pandemic, it is clear there is a need to ensure that the BCC is fit for purpose as a sector-wide reference for baseline coffee sustainability.   

“We want this project to establish a set of principles and practices that serve to pave the way in the understanding and implementation of baseline sustainability in green coffee production and primary processing worldwide,” explained Buitrago.  

The GCP BCC currently contains 27 principles (economic, social and environmental dimensions) based on good agricultural and management practices and international conventions/recognised guidelines and 10 unacceptable practices. The revision will have a closer look at these principles and practices and will review how the baseline sustainability practices connect to sector outcome indicators and the Coffee Data Standard, and to the Sustainable Development Goals, to enable measurement on progress and increased impact. 

The GCP BCC will also be connected to GCP’s National Sustainability Curricula, will be informed by learnings from different implementation actors, and will be followed by a review of the GCP Equivalence Mechanism. Buitrago said the GCP BCC would not become a certification scheme, but could be considered as the ‘rising tide that floats all boats’.  

“As the custodian of the BCC, GCP is responsible for defining, maintaining and periodically revising its content. We want to ensure the GCP BCC can be used to recognise which certification or other sustainability /responsible sourcing schemes meet a sustainability baseline.” 

“The aim is to align stakeholders on metrics to measure their impact and progress on sustainable coffee. BCC acts as the baseline, used through Equivalence Mechanism to specific sustainable purchase which is then published in the GCP Snapshot report,” said Buitrago, adding the BCC serves as the reference for the recognition of sustainability schemes to be included in GCP’s Annual Reporting on Sustainable Coffee Purchases.  

The project will conclude with the decision of the GCP Board, based on the recommendation of the Technical Committee, a multi-stakeholder body of GCP. This Committee will, in turn, be advised by an Advisory Task Force, which includes members that bring additional broad perspectives of the downstream market. The project will run over the next 12 months, with publication of the GCP BCC expected at the end of 2021.  

“Our objective is that the implementation of the BCC, in combination with other strategies, interventions and tools will over time result in improved livelihoods, farmers’ prosperity with profitability of coffee production, and contribute to the conservation of nature while increasing demand and supply of sustainably produced coffee in order to ensure diversity and the viability of the coffee sector​.” 

Gelkha Buitrago

Director Programs and Corporate Partnershipsemail me