GCP has released a revised version of the GCP Equivalence Mechanism, an innovative building block to support continual increases in the purchase of coffee produced following at least baseline principles and practices of sustainability. During the online launch on 3 November 2022, GCP Members from different parts of the coffee value chain reflected on the role of the Equivalence Mechanism 2.0 (EM 2.0) in the coffee sector to advance sustainability.
Flavia Barbosa (Exportadora Guaxupé) highlighted how the Coffee Sustainability Reference Code and the Equivalence Mechanism provide a common language for sustainability schemes. Through the EM process, scheme owners can communicate the contents of schemes that are specific to one country with global clients and partners. In this way, scheme owners can build trust with their clients and increase the credibility of their sustainability schemes. She encouraged more local companies to join the EM process to share their ideas and improve their access to international markets.
Olivier Laboulle (Louis Dreyfus Company Ltd) emphasised the importance of working pre-competitively to address big challenges in the coffee sector and instead of engaging on multiple benchmarks of their scheme, the EM fosters efficiencies and enables schemes to focus on the work that will lead to impact for coffee farmers.
The EM 2.0 harmonises approaches to sustainability and enhances the credibility of sustainability schemes. Marcelo Burity (Nestlé) said that coffee can be a leader for other agricultural sectors in terms of tools for meeting sustainability goals. Through GCP’s EM process, existing tools can be used as demonstrable risk mitigation for deforestation, labour rights and other key challenges facing agriculture.
“Sustainability keeps evolving, the Equivalence Mechanism, the Coffee Sustainability Reference code also can be used to coordinate an orderly evolution of the sector; to shepherd the evolution of sustainability schemes,” said Marcelo Burity of Nestlé.
Panellists also shared that not all farmers will currently be able to meet the strictest sustainability schemes. The Coffee Sustainability Reference Code together with the EM 2.0 supports coffee farmers on a path of continuous improvement. This is especially important in ensuring market access for farmers in the face of increasing regulations around sustainability in key global markets, such as the EU.
To implement the Equivalence Mechanism 2.0, GCP has formed a new partnership with the International Trade Centre (ITC). ITC is a UN agency that brings a decade of experience of successful partnerships with sustainability standards and promoting best practices for sustainability. ITC will act as a neutral broker for sustainability schemes looking to be assessed through the GCP Equivalence Mechanism. The role of ITC is to support GCP in the assessment of the different schemes, increasing the neutrality, credibility and scalability of the EM.
Sustainability Scheme owners can submit their application for GCP-recognition through the EM process now. The first group of recognised schemes will be announced in February/March 2023 with a second group of recognised schemes in September/October 2023. See GCP’s website for more resources on the EM and application process.