Many private sector retailers, roasters and traders made 2020 pledges to demonstrate their commitment towards a sustainable coffee sector. Over the past 10 years, we have therefore witnessed an explosion of sustainability initiatives - Certified VSS, Direct Trade, Sustainably Sourced, Women Produced, to name a few.Furthermore, a combination of philanthropy, government, development and research institutions continue to promote coffee as a tool for sustainable economic growth. This has resulted in coffee-centric Public Private Partnerships, Finance Schemes, and Pre-Competitive Sector Initiatives. And let’s not forget the tech partners that have joined the party, applying mobile, cloud, block chain, remote sensing and AI solutions to help solve the sustainability puzzle. Regardless of all these interventions, most coffee farming families still struggle to make a living income, child labor is still a cost of production and deforestation continues to rise.To add fuel to the flame, the Covid19 pandemic has put added strain on coffee families and workers, especially in terms of health and food security.
Coffee supply chains are dynamic, constantly changing and interconnected.But quite often, coffee sustainability propositions still seem to address partial solutions, articulated solely based on their role in the value chain. However, each one of these initiatives provides us with insights into the complexity of sustainability issues. Utilizing systemic design strategies, we can leverage this vast knowledge in order to develop holistic supply chains.Coffee-laboration
We all need to move beyond our linear thinking and focus on the relevant conditions that will unlock innovation opportunities for real coffee sustainability. Taking collaboration as a starting point of sustainability recognizes the complexity and ever changing reality that supply chain stakeholders cope with. Drawing on sustainability initiatives, collective impact programs, and innovation research, we have distilled 5 key design tips and industry resources to support our sustainability journey.
“Unless price discovery moves beyond reliance on commodity price references, farmers cannot expect these prices to evolve in ways that make them excited about continuing to invest in their sustainable practices on their farms. As such, more and more farms will struggle to find the next generation to take over”.
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
Currently, smallholder families, farm and mill workers, and coffee ecosystems still do not have adequate representation in program design, yet the sector depends on them. Unless human and environmental rights are respected and thoughtful collaboration is intentional, the coffee sector will never transition from an extractive, post-colonial coffee paradigm towards a more inclusive and sustainable future. What will the next decade hold for the coffee sector? What innovations will accelerate the UN Sustainable Development Goals? The answers to these questions rely on the coffee sector’s collective ability to nurture a culture of collaboration in order to address the problems at their source.
Design Drinking is part of the "Drink different" blog series where we explore 5 IDEAS to illustrate how sustainability can create a better end-to-end coffee experience. To discuss how to apply Design Drinking principles to your coffee initiative, please contact us: [email protected]