Reflections from the Sustainable Coffee Challenge Meeting: Collaboration is key

By Emily Durrant-Munro | Programme & Impacts Manager

What a week!  With the perennials pathway due to launch on the sparkly new Cool Farm Platform in just a few weeks, I couldn’t have been surrounded by a better bunch of people and conversation.  Convened by Conservation International, the Sustainable Coffee Challenge (sustaincoffee.org) held it’s annual partnership meeting in Nashville this year.  The Sustainable Coffee Challenge is a collaborative effort of companies, governments, NGOs, research institutions and others to transition the coffee sector to be fully sustainable. Challenge partners are urgently working together to increase transparency, align around a common vision for sustainability and collaborate to accelerate progress toward those goals. This is a PERFECT fit with what we do at Cool Farm and the feels were sparking this week.   

The meeting kicked-off with some inspiring presentations and quickly moved into the ‘work’.  CI’s Nora Burkey led a discussion on data collection for scope 3 coffee GHG assessment and verification.  There was plenty of chat on the availability of the data needed, particularly data on soil and the production region of fertilisers.  Many farmers don’t have this information to hand, so how can we make this easier?  We talked about education and training youth to become auditors and implementers.  There was a general agreement that most farmers will need support to complete assessments which is a big consideration for companies collecting this data.

On the second day, my highlight (aside from failing to escape from the escape room activity) was a deep dive on insetting programmes.  We developed an idea for a supply shed insetting programme in Colombia and talked through the vital need for… you guessed it, collaboration!  Cross sector, multi actor pre-competitive collaboration on GHG quantification, verification and monitoring will be axiomatic to making this work. Without it, it’s just unworkable.  Hats off to all of the companies and organisations engaging with SCC to achieve this.

As I sit in my environmental silo, I was so grateful to hear from Grace West at the Global Fund to End Slavery and Kealy Sloan at Sustainable Food Lab, who brought home the need to address social issues in coffee growing communities.  The message is loud and clear – don’t let perfection be the enemy of good.  Start now and keep trying to do better.  I was heartened to hear about the efforts companies were making in this arena. 

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