Climate Change & Coffee: Acting Globally & Locally

Excerpt from KIM ELENA IONESCU’s introduction of the newly republished SCA White Paper titled Climate Change & Coffee: Acting Globally & Locally.

In the context of global shortfalls, it can feel glib or even disingenuous to applaud the efforts of individuals, but climate change isn’t only affecting the environment – it’s affecting people, and people are capable of incredible resilience, adaptation, and innovation in the face of unthinkable challenges.

The organizations and companies who provided case studies for this paper embody these characteristics and have continued to make progress since 2016 despite political tumult: beginning with the non-profits, the organizations collaborating in CGIAR’s Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) project founded the Alliance for Resilient Coffee, which is a four-year initiative to align research and create tools for climate smart agriculture for the coffee sector funded by USAID’s Feed the Future program; Proclimate and NorAndino continue their reforestation in Northern Peru, with the offset of their most recent partnership resulting in an additional 2 million trees planted in smallholder coffee systems; and World Coffee Research’s International Multi-Location Variety Trial (IMLVT) now comprises more than sixty farming plots in 23 countries.

The buyers profiled are also continuing to invest: Counter Culture Coffee used the lessons from its study to produce a toolkit in conjunction with Twin and the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University that helps users plan and facilitate a climate change adaptation workshop with coffee farmers (available at and Farmer Brothers recently announced it reached its goal of 90% waste diversion from its roasting plants and distribution centers, and it was also awarded a position on the Climate A List by the Carbon Disclosure Project. Challenges abound, but so do opportunities.

Download Climate Change & Coffee: Acting Globally & Locally, the newly republished SCA White Paper.

The UN replaced its eight Millennium Development Goals with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. The SDGs are more specific than the previous set of goals, but progress is predicated on recognizing their interdependence.

We cannot hope to advance in farmworker inclusion without understanding the economic, social, and environmental obstacles that keep them on the margins, nor can we address any community, anywhere in the world, in isolation. In our events, our education, and our research, the Specialty Coffee Association will continue to support and promote work being done by industry stakeholders to advance farmworker inclusion and we will continue to share our own progress.

Thank you for downloading this paper, taking actions to reduce environmental impact wherever you are, and for supporting the SCA’s commitment to make coffee better.

KIM ELENA IONESCU is the Chief Sustainability Officer at the Specialty Coffee Association.