Even as 2018 revealed troubling forces, we also saw some extraordinary work emerge. It is hard to miss that we are in a cultural moment where we are allowing some people’s mendacity and a brazen disregard for simple ethics to eclipse decency in many spheres of life. The corrupt perspectives of these new barbarians fill the news allowing rampant ecosystem destruction for soy and palm oil, the further decline of real income levels for already-poor small farmers, and worsening climate scenarios confirmed by the IPCC. But some things are shifting.
The UN’s sagacious Chief Economist and Assistant Secretary General (DESA), Elliot Harris, recently shared with me how leading financial investors can see the writing on the wall and are increasingly searching for ways to credibly measure the sustainability and resilience of investments. With good metrics as the gateway, the value of sustainability for stable financial returns is clear. Data delivers results in many realms but is only beginning to impact farm-level sustainability simply because something is missing: much of the data is poor quality and inconsistent or not comparable.
That’s why I am encouraged by the honest efforts of organizations as diverse as Danone, McDonalds, Mars, and the Global Coffee Platform (GCP). The three firms are committed to building new levels of supply transparency and sustainability into their future business competitiveness by correctly perceiving these as an investment in their future business competitiveness rather than a mere cost. Measuring the return then becomes essential. The GCP is bringing together global industry actors around a measurable and shared understanding for sustainable coffee.
Once finalized, the GCP’s Data Project can offer cumulative data to understand trends and core information that matter to farmers and industry. This will likely speed up learning that generates better investment opportunities and real impact for farming communities. Learn more during the GCP webinar January 24 at 10am EST or 4pm CET featuring an interactive discussion with eminent coffee thought leaders from Nestlé, McDonalds, Brazil, and Colombia joining us.
As always I welcome your perspectives and your partnership to make a real difference.
With warm regards,
Annual Letter 2018: The year we saw sustainability shift
Our annual letter distills an eventful year, reflecting on the challenges and notable success stories. Adversity strengthens our dedicated team’s commitment to advancing systematic and science-based measurement tools for accelerating real sustainability. If you feel the same way, or disagree, let us know.
Don’t repeat history with the same development mistakes
Santayana’s famous line “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it”, makes more sense each year as we see programs and investments repeat common errors of past decades. With the support of a thoughtful client that operates food processing plants around the globe (McCain Foods) More…
Three guidelines to reveal what’s hiding in your supply chain
What’s the “black box” in your supply chain? Our work assessing and improving the sustainability of supply chains or value chains has revealed three universal guidelines to better see what risks and also what opportunities may be hiding beyond your direct suppliers More…
Does your sustainable sourcing program measure up?
When well-executed, private sustainable sourcing programs can offer substantial value. Our long history of successfully designing company programs and strategies has yielded useful lessons of what to do and what NOT to do More…
Improving the ability of public institutions to measure sustainability?
We are frequently contacted by non-profit, educational, or public institutions, including farmer cooperatives in places like Kenya, Nicaragua, and Colombia for advice on metrics for measuring sustainability. Please consider a donation to support our ability to respond and help these local institutions improve their understanding and knowledge of sustainability so they too can make a difference