Uniting Efforts to Meet 
Sustainability Challenges in the Coffee Sector

[iconbox title=”Contact Name: Verónica Pérez-Sueiro” icon=”adress_book.png”]
Website: www.4c-coffeeassociation.org
Location: Various Coffee Growing Countries
Email Address: Veronica.perez@4ccoffeeassociation.org
Phone Number: 406-542-3509[/iconbox]

Project Description

The 4C Association was initiated in response to the so called “international coffee crisis” in 2001. Back then, an oversupply of coffee led to the plummeting of international coffee prices, pushing millions of coffee farmers into poverty. The different stakeholders in the coffee sector came together to jointly discuss and find solutions for supporting farmers in becoming more sustainable in their production and processing practices. Since the launch of the Common Code for the Coffee Community Project in 2003, the 4C System has come a long way. Reaching agreement on a baseline standard for sustainability by the different actors in the coffee sector was an important early milestone, followed by the formal establishment of the 4C Association end 2006. The association has now successfully built a network to train producers in the application of the 4C baseline standard, set up a verification system, and broadened its network of members and partners.
By the end of 2011, 79 coffee producing entities (4C Units), encompassing over 455,000 farmers and workers in 16 countries, had been independently verified to comply with the 4C Code of Conduct. This Code is the baseline sustainability standard for the production and processing of green coffee. The aggregate production potential of these 4C Units amounted to over 15 million bags of 4C Compliant Coffee, representing nearly twelve percent of today`s global coffee supply.
As a pre-competitive initiative, the 4C Association does not only promote its own baseline standard and verification system. It also collaborates closely with other sustainability initiatives such as UTZ Certified and the Rainforest Alliance, which are both 4C Members. The objective is to promote supply and demand of verified and certified coffees in the market. “It is very encouraging to see that the volumes of verified and certified coffee are growing steadily and that more and more companies are committing to sustainable purchasing. However, there is still a lot of untapped potential to advance sustainability in the sector by bringing actors together. The 4C Association is committed to be the platform that enables all coffee stakeholders to join together in forging long-term solutions through joint projects and partnerships,” stated Melanie Rutten-Sülz, 4C Executive Director.
A platform to expand sustainability in the coffee sector Membership in the 4C Association also grew considerably over the last year. As of 1 June 2012, the 4C Association had 167 members, an increase of nearly 25% from the same period in 2011. The most significant growth in membership was seen among coffee producers, traders and roasters. The 4C Association offers its members and other coffee actors a platform where they can identify and address overarching sustainability challenges and translate ideas into actions. For instance, it co-organized the first Regional Forum on Coffee and Climate Change in El Salvador in 2011. The Forum brought together for the first time, representatives of the main stakeholders in the Central American coffee sector to jointly define a Coffee Agenda for the Adaptation to Climate Change for the entire region (ACCCCA). Other activities and services include sustainability forums, thematic working groups and acquisition of project funding on specific sustainability issues.
[one_third first]

Producers sorting out green cherries from harvest in Dalat, Vietnam

Multistakeholder Participation

Spreading coffee to dry – Indonesia


Who Benefits From This Project?

The 4C Association is about making a difference in the lives of those who make a living from coffee production and trade. Farmers in the 4C System benefit by improving efficiency, increasing their yields, and improving their standards of living – socially, environmentally and economically. Coffee traders and roasters are able to build lasting contacts and ensure a long term supply of coffee from better, more sustainable supply chains. Retailers are thereby able to provide their consumers with a worry free product and meet the increasing demand for sustainably sourced coffee while NGOs can support relevant sustainability projects. All in all, a win-win situation is created for the entire coffee community

How Can I Help?

Become a member of the 4C Association to contribute to our joint efforts of mainstreaming sustainability. Only through continued collaboration through this multi-stakeholder platform can the Association attain its ambitious goal of achieving sector-wide compliance with at least baseline sustainability criteria in the coming years.

Suggested Reading