José Dauster Sette, the International Coffee Organization (ICO)’s new Executive Director, explicitly acknowledged that changes are required at the organisation in an address to the International Coffee Council at its latest meeting.
Addressing the Council on 17 March 2017, Mr Sette said: “I know that the ICO needs urgent attention, and I would like to start my work as soon as possible. Rest assured that, even before taking office, I will work double shifts in order to be prepared to hit the ground running.”
“Despite my joy at being selected as Executive Director, I did take note of concerns raised by many of you about the state of the ICO,” he told the Council. “Many questions about inclusiveness of the organization have been raised.
“To quote from one of my son’s favourite works of fiction: ‘With great power, comes great responsibility.’ From this moment on, I am no longer the candidate of Brazil, but I am the servant of all members.
“The ICO must be a modern international commodity body adapting to a changing world, while maintaining its relevancy. It must be a house of inclusiveness and representativeness guided by a spirit which I treasure, of working from the bottom up and not from the top down,” said Mr Sette.
Mr Sette said that, once appointed, he intended to begin an “ample process” of consultation with members. “I think that the Producers’ Forum in Colombia in July will be a special opportunity to gather, not all of you, but certainly the producing members and discuss the way forward together,” Mr Sette said.
“But I will also work closely with importing members, starting with the US, due to my current residence there, and followed by the European Union, Switzerland and others at a later date.
“I also take note of the desire to have staff members that, in addition to having a high level of competence, are representative in geographical terms of our membership. And I want to develop with you measurable objectives for our organization so that we know exactly how we are performing in the execution of all our work.
“The image of agricultural commodities is under attack from many sides,” said Mr Sette. “Sugar and orange juice are considered causes of obesity; cotton, in which I was involved, is targeted as a water-thirsty crop, and many think it is not environmentally friendly; cocoa is under attack because of its lack of sustainability.
“Although coffee is not immune from criticism, it is in a comparatively privileged position. This is our greatest asset, our good name and our reputation. We must work hard to maintain it that way. We must never forget that coffee is a powerful instrument for social good. We owe it to the more than 100 million people whose livelihood depends on coffee to work together in this organization to give them a better future.”