12 Feb 2024

Fairtrade Coffee Standard update expands deforestation prevention

COCLA coffee cooperative Peru

In an effort to reduce environmental degradation, Fairtrade has updated its Coffee Standard requiring certified producers and traders (payers and conveyers) to strengthen deforestation prevention, monitoring, and mitigation.

The update, approved by the Fairtrade Standards Committee, meets and in some areas exceeds the European Union’s Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) that went into effect in June 2023. In particular, the updated Fairtrade Coffee Standard sets the deforestation cut-off date at 1 January 2014, which means that no coffee should come from land deforested after that point. It also requires that all farms have recorded geolocation points, and farms larger than four hectares must have polygon maps.

Juan Pablo Solis, Senior Advisor Climate and Environment, Fairtrade International, explained that the updated Coffee Standard is important because it represents a big step in the right direction: “There is no denying we are living in an era of climate crisis. For farmers and workers, the frequency and severity of climate variability means high exposure to human and environmental risks that jeopardise their livelihoods. It is no secret that climate change directly impacts smallholders’ future, hence a significant change in our global food system is paramount.”

In addition, the Standard requires coffee cooperatives to develop a prevention and mitigation plan, and they must conduct deforestation monitoring that will be facilitated by a satellite platform provided by Fairtrade. Fairtrade has established a partnership with Satelligence, a leader in deforestation tracking, that will allow producer organisations to have access to data and act on risks identified.

By updating the Coffee Standard, 600 Fairtrade coffee cooperatives, representing 870,000 Fairtrade coffee farmers cultivating 1.1 million hectares, would have the guidance and tools to meet the EUDR, which is part of the European Green Deal.

For instance, the EUDR requires geolocation data, but the Fairtrade Standard goes further by requiring producer organisations to collect this information, and payers and conveyors to report it to Fairtrade and also share this with the producer organisations to prevent deforestation. This detail points to the principle of fairness, meaning that the responsibility of protecting the environment must be shared by all those involved. The EUDR cutoff date is 31 December 2020, while the Fairtrade cutoff date is 1 January 2014. Plus, the Fairtrade Standard requires not only monitoring and risk assessment but also a biodiversity monitoring and management plan unlike the EUDR requirements.

The updated Standard will take effect in 2026, which will provide producers and traders with a transition period to adjust their practices and ensure compliance.

Fairtrade Standards are reviewed and regularly updated through an inclusive and consultative process initiated and led by Fairtrade International’s Standards and Pricing Unit, with the participation of key stakeholders in the Fairtrade system, including farmers and farm workers, and then decided upon by the Fairtrade International Standards Committee. The committee, which includes representatives of the three Fairtrade Producer Networks, ensures that any decision considers the views of all the relevant stakeholders and are in line with Fairtrade International’s mission and policy statements.