General Announcements

German Ministry Puts Coffee at the Top of the Sustainability Agenda

Putting coffee at the top of the sustainability agenda: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development signs cooperation with the Global Coffee Platform

Berlin, Germany: Global Coffee Platform (GCP) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) have signed a Joint Declaration of Intent demonstrating a long-term commitment to positively impacting the livelihoods of coffee farming communities and their ecosystems, and ultimately foster a sustainable, thriving coffee sector.

The challenges of low incomes and climate change
The coffee sector faces a wide range of serious challenges, ranging from low productivity and price volatility to the costs of adapting to climate change. These challenges often make coffee a relatively unprofitable crop to grow, and have driven young people away from coffee farming. This also threatens future supply of coffee, putting the ubiquitous routine of a delicious morning cup of coffee at risk.

The cooperation between GCP and the BMZ will enable the coffee sector to tackle these critical issues together with local governments in coffee producing countries. It will also seek to pilot new and innovative approaches to sustainability tailored to each country as well as increase transparency through a sector wide progress measurement tool. All activities are designed to align and contribute to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr Gerd Müller, the Minister for the BMZ:

“Coffee is the most popular drink in Germany. So for coffee in particular, we finally have to show that we are serious about making globalisation fair. 90 per cent of the coffee consumed in Germany is not produced sustainably. So we still have a long way to go. Low wages on coffee plantations, child labour and forest degradation characterise the beginning of the production chain. So it is time to increase the share of fairly traded coffee in Germany, too. After all, we can start each day with a cup of coffee that gives a family in Africa or Latin America a better future.”

$350 million invested into coffee sustainability annually

Fortunately, the public and private sectors both acknowledge that intervention is needed to make sure that farmers can earn a decent livelihood and ecosystems are protected. More than $350 million is invested annually into sustainability activities in the coffee sector each year, but it is essential to work together to make sure this money is invested effectively and improves the situation at farm and community level.

By publicly stepping up to the many challenges the coffee sector faces, the German government has made coffee a priority area and this move leaves the door open for further government action and commitments among coffee consuming countries.

Annette Pensel, Executive Director of GCP:

“Today is an important step in our journey to make coffee the world’s first sustainable crop. The support, resources and expertise the BMZ will bring to the sustainable coffee movement are a real asset, and will have a tangible impact on the lives of coffee farmers around the world, and we hope this will inspire further action by other public and private actors.”

Achim Lohrie, from Tchibo:

“As a company, we have been working to make coffee more sustainable for the last decade. However, we have also learned that not one company or sustainability initiative can alone tackle systemic problems such as the effects of climate change, pressure on natural resources and low incomes. We can only achieve this through global alignment and coordination – something which this public-private cooperation between GCP and BMZ will enhance.”

The need for all stakeholders to work together is why public-private partnership lies at the heart of the Global Coffee Platform’s work. Together with its expansive membership of producers, civil society, trade, and industry, the Global Coffee Platform has already established strong cooperation at a global and national level with governments in coffee-producing countries, strategic partners such as IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative, and other sustainability projects to create a common set of priorities and agenda.

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