Fairtrade and climate change: Systematic review, hotspot analysis and survey

Published: 25 Oct 2021


Climate change poses a serious threat to agricultural production and to many farmers growing the crops that Fairtrade certifies. Fairtrade International commissioned a study to understand the potential climate change impacts on the production and producers of six major Fairtrade crops.

The researchers, from Vrije University Amsterdam and Bern University of Applied Sciences, performed four different analyses:

  1. Literature review on how climate change has so far impacted Fairtrade banana, cocoa, coffee, cotton, sugarcane and tea production in the most important Fairtrade producing areas;
  2. A spatially explicit analysis to identify the extent and locations of future climate change extremes;
  3. A review of Fairtrade documents regarding future climate change and adaptation;
  4. A survey with producer organizations from South India (tea and coffee) and Ghana (cocoa).

The spatially explicit analysis uses three indicators of climate change impact: warm spell duration index (heatwave, heat stress risk), consecutive dry days (drought risk) and heavy precipitation days (water damage, erosion, pest risk). It also includes tropical cyclones and depleted water basins. The researchers used a moderate (low-emissions) and an extreme (high-emissions) scenario to calculate a lower and upper range of potential climate impacts for each crop.

This study provides information on which crops are expected to be impacted by climate change, by region and specific impacts. In order to plan for resilient adaptation solutions, follow-up studies should focus on capturing local climate change impacts, combining climate modelling data and insights from farmer interviews.

Support to farmers to adopt the different adaptations is essential, and needs to be based on an understanding of current challenges that limit farmers from changing practices. In addition, short-term mechanisms to deal with immediate impacts, such as complete crop failures from extreme weather events, need to be assessed and supported in order to increase farmers’ resilience. For certain farmers adaption steps will include changing or diversifying crop or income sources, whereas in areas with less severe impacts measures could include agroforestry and improved shade tree management, mulching, and crop diversification.

The full report is 26MB. A smaller file version is available under Supporting Documents below.

supporting documents