Research shows that climate change will inordinately affect the viable production of coffee in key origins. With current R&D levels the future coffee market could be 30% smaller than without climate change. Recognizing this, companies are eager to climate proof their supply chains, but often need guidance on how to best do so.
As part of an effort to better engage the private sector in climate-smart agriculture, the Learning Community for Supply Chain Resilience, funded by USAID’s Feed the Future program and in support of the Feed the Future Alliance for Resilient Coffee (ARC) published the Private Sector Consultation on Climate Smart Agriculture. The research interviews 18 companies to better understand how they think about climate risk and climate-smart agriculture, the types of activities in which they engage, and the types of climate information they use and/or need.
Interviews included companies like Olam, a leading global coffee trading house, whose programs are designed largely to address supply security. Their competitive advantage is the ability to source raw materials, not in their consumer brand recognition. As a result, their programs to address climate change provide services to improve efficiency and resilience of coffee farms and the natural resources they depend on.
As another example, the Kellogg company, considered a “front runner”, has pledged to help 500,000 farmers adopt climate-smart agriculture. Their approach varies by geography and crop, but it includes adaptation measures at the farm-level for small growers of corn and calculating and reducing the GHG emissions of large-scale agriculture.
Both Olam and Kellogg have joined a number of its peer companies in leading the CSA working group of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development which lobbies at the COP and has produced a practical Roadmap for companies to implement CSA.
Beyond individual actions, companies can align themselves with pre-competitive groups like the Feed the Future Alliance for Resilient Coffee (ARC), initiative for coffee&climate (c&c), Global Coffee Platform (GCP), the Rainforest Alliance, Sustainable Coffee Challenge, World Coffee Research (WCR) and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD).
The Feed the Future Alliance for Resilient Coffee (ARC) is a four-year project that aligns the latest in climate research and practical tools to unlock investments from the coffee sector in climate smart agriculture to improve the livelihoods and resilience of coffee farmers and promote better environmental stewardship. Led by Hanns R. Nuemann Stiftung (HRNS), the consortium provides tools that help companies diagnose risk and create solutions at the country, landscape, supply chain and/or farm levels. Consortium members include CIAT, Conservation International, IITA, Root Capital, Sustainable Food Lab and World Coffee Research.
Feed the Future Alliance for Resilient Coffee (ARC), in collaboration with GCP created the Understand, Design, Act: Climate Proof your Supply Chain series providing information and answers to questions relating to climate change and its effects on supply chains. The series provides an action pathway to private sector investment in climate-smart agriculture, from assessing supply chain risk to monitoring the effects of implemented solutions.
Since 2010, the initiative for coffee&climate (c&c) has directly supported smallholder coffee farming families and their communities to effectively respond to climate change. c&c is an open global partnership of coffee companies and development organizations focusing on climate adaptation and mitigation in coffee. The initiative for coffee&climate is being implemented by Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS).
Core functions of c&c are:
- To develop and promote a methodology that enables farmers and their trainers to develop location-specific adaptation and mitigation strategies.
- To train coffee farmers and extension agents including, exporters and governmental service providers on the use of the methodology.
- To test and promote climate smart practices which can be directly and at low or no additional costs implemented at the farm, such as soil and water conservation, shade management and diversification.
- To strengthen coffee communities by supporting them to develop and implement their own climate adaptation plans within their village and community to prevent deforestation, protect water sources and use natural resources sustainably.
- To consolidate best practices and share them with the coffee sector through an open knowledge hub, the c&c toolbox: toolbox.coffeeandclimate.org.
- To anchor the topic of climate change locally through the Community of Practice as a format for facilitating joint learning amongst local stakeholders and experts.
The Global Coffee Platform (GCP) believes that sustainability is a shared responsibility and focuses its entire attention on enabling all its members (producers, international roasters, governments, traders, donors, and NGOs) to align and multiply their efforts and investments, collectively acting on local priorities and critical issues, and scaling successful sustainability initiatives across the sector. Their efforts include engaging in dialogue with the public and private sector, creating access and alignment on farm level sustainability programs to provide greater impact on farm level and establishment of suitable finance mechanisms. GCP also participates in country and global strategy development and showcases leadership in sustainability as part of their bigger movement to achieve the SDGs. As a result of their work, GCP members can tackle the biggest issues relevant to their business, share the costs, make smarter investments, and achieve greater impact on farmer livelihoods.
The Rainforest Alliance is working to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior through their sustainable certification. As part of its sustainable certification, the Rainforest Alliance recognizes the need for climate-smart agriculture. To learn more about their use of climate smart agriculture you can read their white paper online.
The Sustainable Coffee Challenge is a precompetitive platform for the coffee industry and other stakeholders to announce commitments to sustainability and address common challenges through working groups. The Challenge leads a working group, for example, on renovation and rehabilitation in coffee – one of the core topics in adapting to climate change for coffee farmers.
World Coffee Research (WCR) is funded pre-competitively by organizations committed to making the coffee plant more resilient. Their projects revolve around coffee varieties, genetic resources and accompanying technologies to disseminate them strategically and collaboratively in producing countries to alleviate constraints to the supply chain of high-quality coffee. WCR’s work solves for the fact that current coffee varieties were created for the 20th century coffee sector and there is already significant evidence showing that these varieties will not tolerate the environmental threats of the 21st century—changing weather patterns, increased temperatures, and new disease and insect prevalence. This creates a potentially disastrous decline in supply in the coming decades. With the help of WCR, the creation of new, highly adaptable varieties, supported by a vibrant new seed sector, will result in major global productivity and quality gains in the next 10-20 years. WCR is currently completing trials in Uganda with private sector partner, Great Lakes Coffee. You can learn more about WCR’s process of creating a Global Coffee Monitoring Program on their website.
WBCSD, a global, CEO-led organization of over 200 leading businesses, has been working to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world, including the adoption of climate-smart agriculture. By 2030, WBCSD companies aim to make 50% more nutritious food available, strengthen the climate resilience of farming communities, and reduce agricultural and land-use change emissions from commercial agriculture by 50% (at least 3.7 Gt CO2eq/year). Read their priority action areas here and if interested in learning more, visit this blog post on how WBCSD is tackling climate-smart agriculture.