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The Global Coffee Platform, Committee on Sustainability Assessment, Rainforest Alliance and Waterwatch Cooperative have completed the Coffee Data Project, sponsored by ISEAL Innovations Fund.

Supply chain actors can now integrate 15 common indicators for farm-level sustainability into their reporting systems and benefit from more efficient transactions and more effective resource allocation, using the indicators to identify areas that are important or those that need strengthening.

Refined and backed by a broad consensus of key stakeholders and a carefully selected global expert committee, the Coffee Data Standard delivers a common language for all coffee supply chain actors through the identification of common indicators for farm-level coffee sustainability.

Once operationalized throughout the reporting systems of supply chain actors, the indicators will be functional across origins and comparable over time. As a result, the Coffee Data Standard promises to enable more efficient transactions and reporting, and more effective resource allocation due to the ability to identify areas that are high performing or that need strengthening.

According to Annette Pensel (shown here), Global Coffee Platform (GCP) Executive Director, this initiative has a huge potential if it gets track and spreads across the sector. “Central to the Coffee Data Standard is its potential to add value to the data that is collected. By working with the same metrics, GCP members and the sector will be able to identify and take action on areas for improvement and to develop financial products that are more attractive and accessible to coffee farmers.”

Integrating the 15 indicators into reporting systems and encouraging other supply chain partners to do the same will enhance the ability to strategically plan future sustainability investments. As more and more supply chain actors adopt them, the more widespread they will become and the more engrained will the benefits be in day-to-day business.

Henk Gilhuis, Senior Specialist, Science and Impacts at Rainforest Alliance said, “Using indicators based on a common language will help us all to better measure impacts in the field, and to act on them.”

The indicators will also be used as the foundations for the Delta Project, a three-year collaboration between the GCP, International Coffee Organization, Better Cotton Initiative and the International Cotton Advisory Committee, which aims to gain government endorsement of these indicators, and ultimately scale them to other commodities.

In the coffee sector, as with many other commodities, there are more and more pressing requirements for data collection and reporting. Final buyers require more evidence of how coffee is produced, those reporting in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) might need differing information or perhaps a voluntary sustainability standard has additional internal requirements.

Whatever the case, both the volume and heterogeneity of data being generated is dramatically growing.  The need and urgency for the coffee sector to establish a common language to measure sustainability is boldly upon us.

Daniele Giovannucci, President of COSA, said “This effort, achieving a common set of metrics, is a benchmark achievement for sustainability for the coffee world. Based on sound science, our common metrics open the door for other crops and commodities to advance.”

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