On March 9, the Common Code for the Coffee Community (4C) Association, the International Coffee Association (ICO) and The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), signed a Memorandum of Understanding in London. Its purpose is to align the different efforts towards a farmer-centric sustainable coffee production and trading system. To date, it is the biggest public private alliance in the coffee sector. All three parties have been or are currently clients or partners of NewForesight in together realizing sustainable market transformation.

The memorandum is a public-private partnership: The 4C Association is a gathering of coffee companies, ICO is an intergovernmental association for coffee and IDH is an initiative that convenes public and private stakeholders on sustainable production and producer support. Arisen from a 4C Association initiative to create a global coffee sustainability program, the alliance will begin with identifying priorities in the process of further aligning the stakeholders.

The coffee sector faces many challenges, such as an aging farmer population, disease-affected and aging trees, child- and forced labor issues and a poor business case for creditors and input providers. The world has more than 25 million coffee producers, many of which have difficulty to organize themselves and little access to knowledge, finance and markets. As the issues in the coffee sector are complex and long-term, a sense of urgency to collaborate and focus on opportunity-driven sustainability strategies is low among industry players. To drive positive change, there is need for an agent with strong convening powers and an ability to lead and shape the sector sustainability agenda.

Currently, NewForesight is working with 4C Association in designing its Strategy Framework 2016-2020 and corresponding business model. NewForesight is proud to count the contributors to this Memorandum of Understanding to its clients and supports this next step in sector collaboration towards sustainable coffee. We have supported the 4C Association in a fundamental redesign of its structure, transforming the organization’s operations. In addition, NewForesight has worked with IDH and the Sustainable Coffee Initiative to increase the Dutch sustainable coffee sector with many of the stakeholders now involved with this alliance.