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New guide helps countries tap into funding for sustainable coffee production

PHOTO: © Thomas Muller/Conservation International

PHOTO: © Thomas Muller/Conservation International

August, 2018 —A new guide highlights how coffee-growing countries in Africa and beyond can best tap into new funding opportunities from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to increase coffee productivity and quality and to make their coffee sectors more sustainable environmentally, economically and socially in the face of growing threats posed by climate change to the sector.

The guide published by the International Coffee Organization (ICO) and the Sustainable Coffee Challenge (SCC) initiative, focuses on funding available for the first time for coffee under the GEF’s latest four-year replenishment cycle (2018-2022).

Established in 1992, the GEF is an international financial mechanism to help tackle the most pressing environmental challenges facing the globe while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. Its membership includes 183 countries as well as international institutions, civil society organizations and the private sector. 

“Actors from across the coffee sector need to drive investments to help ensure the continued sustainability of coffee production in light of the pressing challenges presented by climate change," said José Sette, Executive Director of ICO, a London-based multilateral organization.

“To date coffee projects received just US$32.8 million GEF funds, representing less than 0.2% of the total GEF funding pot, and US$223 million in co-financing. The coffee sector needs to take full advantage of such financing mechanisms and act swiftly to unlock green and climate finance by promoting practices, strategies and enablers for a climate resilient coffee supply chain and economy”. 

Bambi Semroc, Vice-President for Sustainable Markets and Strategy at Conservation International—which, together with global coffee chain Starbucks, founded the Sustainable Coffee Challenge— said:  “The opportunity of GEF  is extremely timely for the global coffee sector, as nearly every major coffee-producing landscape is under stress due to the impact of climate change.”

“Rising temperatures, droughts and changing weather patterns are predicted to reduce the overall land suitable for growing coffee by 50%. As traditional growing areas decrease, farmers may look to plant coffee in protected locations situated in biodiversity hotspots, such as forested areas located higher up on mountainsides that are designated for conservation,” added Semroc.

For countries to access GEF funding for coffee, they need to first choose and work through a GEF Implementing Agency (IA), which are 18 in total. GEF IAs that are active in the coffee sector include: Conservation International, FAO, IFAD, UNDP, UNEP, UNIDO and the World Bank. 

GEF’s official call for “Expression of Interest (EOI)” is expected by end of September this year while the deadline for submissions of EOIs is by end of this year. Evaluation and selection of qualified submissions is by end of January 2019. 

The GEF Secretariat and the Lead Agencies will evaluate and select an initial batch of submissions which will be considered at the June 2019 Council meeting. 

An additional deadline or EOIs will be established during 2019 for countries that need more to express their interests, after which a second batch of qualified submissions will be presented for consideration at a subsequent Council meeting. 

The process for the preparation of project concepts for the GEF-7 Replenishment cycle has already started. A number of GEF Implementing Agencies have already started scoping exercises and are working with governments to gain insights into priorities for coffee sector. 

The main coffee producers in Africa include Ethiopia, Uganda, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Tanzania but the commodity is also produced in varying quantities in Tanzania, Cameroon, Madagascar, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Togo, Guinea, Central African Republic, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Angola, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Liberia and Zambia.  Globally, the top producers are Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia and Ethiopia.

Both ICO and SSC said they will be developing further support guides on international financing opportunities to help drive investments in the coffee sector to address the global impact of climate change and enhance sustainability. 

Launched in 2015, the SCC initiative brings together governments, industry players — traders, roasters, retailers, etc.— NGOs, universities, donor agencies and certification bodies to make the production and consumption of coffee more sustainable in the face of threats posed by climate change. The GDSA is promoting SCC among its member countries.