Smallholder coffee farmers


CEOs, executives and global leaders of the coffee sector will converge to the International Coffee Organisation (ICO) Forum in London on Monday to sign a Declaration, with a clear Road-Map, reaffirming their commitment to work with Governments, development partners and civil society and to implement concrete solutions to address the current coffee price crisis and transformational actions to achieve a sustainable future for the coffee sector.

It is the first time that all leading coffee stakeholders, from all over the world, agree to be together with Government representatives showing a strong commitment to jointly implement solutions for a sustainable and inclusive development of the coffee sector in a spirit of shared values and determined to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

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The Forum is the response by Coffee industry executives and Leaders — mobilised by the International Coffee Organization (ICO) — to the strong call by the Governments of exporting and importing countries to contribute to solving the dramatic impact that the current price level (a drop in coffee prices by 30% over the last two years) of exported raw coffee has on farmers and coffee-producing economies.

At the same time consumption of coffee increases by a healthy average of 2.2% a year and over the past two decades, the global coffee sector has expanded significantly as demand for coffee has increased by 65%, with farmers increasing production by 50% over the past two decades reaching an export of US$20 million a year.

Government signatories to the International Coffee Agreement (2007), at the 122nd Session of the International Coffee Council in September 2018, adopted Resolution 465 on coffee price levels, mandating the ICO, “to promote dialogue among all stakeholders in the coffee value chain to ensure the economic sustainability of the coffee producers…“ and the ICO Executive Director to “further strengthen ties with the international roasting industry as a matter of urgency, in order to gain support for the implementation of this resolution…”

The first CEO and Global Leaders Forum of the coffee sector, marks the sixth consultative event of an unprecedented sector-wide dialogue led by the ICO, to address the impact of low prices on the livelihoods of coffee farmers as well as the long-term sustainability of the coffee sector.

The sector dialogue since October 2018, has already gathered a rich portfolio of views, solutions, best practices and programmes through consultations held in Nairobi, Kenya, at the United Nations in New York, in a development fair in Rome, Italy and at the European Commission in Brussels, involving 80 world coffee and development experts and over 2,000 participants.

Further consultation among industry representatives, development partners, governments and civil society was carried out by the ICO with the support of consultancy NewForesight with financial support from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

This process lead to this first CEO and Global Leaders forum and the expected signing of the London Declaration on price levels, price volatility and the long-term sustainability of the coffee sector. The Declaration is the result of a complex consensus building process which, in order to gain momentum, started with an initial group of coffee stakeholders but has now rapidly attracted interest from all the actors in the coffee sector.

The Declaration is set to become a global reference of Public-Private partnership to make coffee the most sustainable agribusiness value chain and beverage in the world for the benefit of all stakeholders – consumers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders.

The CEO and Global Leaders Forum, also to be broadcast live via web streaming, will provide a dynamic Davos-style format of interactive discussion with the audience across plenary and panel sessions with high-level government representatives from exporting and importing governments including Oumer Hassien, Minister of Agriculture of Ethiopia and  Pablo Anliker, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock of El Salvador as well as top government representatives of Colombia, Germany, and Honduras, and CEOs and top executives from industry leaders such as Illycaffè, Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE), Nestlé, Melitta, Mercon Coffee Corp, Olam, Starbucks, Sucafina, Strauss, Volcafe, among others.

It will also have representatives from largest coffee associations such as the Global Coffee Platform (GCP) and the Sustainable Coffee Challenge (SCC), and international and civil society organizations such Fairtrade, IDH, Rainforest Alliance and others.

The Forum will be moderated by Al Jazeera journalist Maryam Nemazee. Following the CGLF Forum, it is envisaged that the London Declaration will be endorsed by the 125th Session of the International Coffee Council, thus by all the governments of countries producing 98 percent of world coffee, and by the countries that import at least two-thirds of world coffee production for their processing industry and consumers.

The International Coffee Organization (ICO) to which Uganda subscribers as a coffee growing country, is a multilateral organisation supporting exporting and importing countries to improve the sustainability of the coffee sector. It provides a high level forum for all public and private stakeholders in the sector; official statistics on coffee production, trade and consumption; and support for the development and funding of technical cooperation projects and public-private partnerships.

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