Coffee: tropical agriculture’s climate change canary

November 28, 2015

Hivos invites you to join us in Paris on 5 December at the session we are hosting during the Global Landscapes Forum, the largest side event of the Paris Climate conference.  We will share our most recent insights into how smallholder farmers in coffee landscapes can better deal with climate change.  Unless decisions in Paris are bold and immediate, farmers around the world will suffer from increasing climatic variability. Building up resilience is a challenge for the whole sector, but in particular for those who are most vulnerable.

Hivos, together with an impressive range of research and practitioner partners such as the International Coffee Organization (ICO), Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung and Coffee & Climate, will provide a synthesis of innovative and viable adaptation strategies for smallholder coffee farmers.

What are our main messages for people and organisations living and working in coffee-based landscapes?

Based on joint research with the Utrecht University, Hivos can now confidently say that shaded organic systems have great potential to combine the twin challenges of local socio-economic development and biodiversity conservation. Together with IIED, Hivos concludes that based on fieldwork in Kenya, Indonesia, Peru and Nicaragua, ‘Payments for Ecosystem Services’ (PES) can offer a viable financing strategy for smallholder agriculture if well aligned with the smallholder enterprise and the right price is paid for carbon. Amongst other papers and findings, Bioversity International and Hivos will share midway results of work on a climate smart scorecard to evaluate agro-ecological practices in support of adaptation to climate change, based on farmers’ needs and climate scenarios. Hivos is collaborating with the Coffee and Climate initiative to disseminate best practices for adaptation in the form of comprehensible and hands-on tools to improve the resilience of the coffee sector worldwide.

Coffee is the canary in the mine

Coffee is regarded as a lead indicator for sustainable commodity crops; it often sets the pace and others follow. The 2014 Climate Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) cites multiple studies with evidence of observed and projected effects of climate change on coffee production in Central and South America, Africa and Asia. According to the Coffee Barometer Report 2014, in many growing countries, including Brazil, Vietnam, Honduras and Uganda, areas that are currently suitable for large-scale coffee production will be substantially reduced by the effects of climate change by 2020. Our expert panel representing governments, farmer organisations and the private sector will discuss how to advance innovative mitigation and adaptation trajectories and bring them to scale in the coffee sector, reflecting upon the following steps:

  • preservation of important ecosystem services
  • provision of a viable and resilient livelihood to coffee-producing communities
  • strategic and collective action and investments

The necessary adaptation measures are directly in line with the targets and priorities of most Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), amongst others; the ending of poverty (SDG1), the promotion of sustainable agriculture (SDG2), ensuring sustainable production and consumption (SDG12), urgent action to combat climate change (SDG13), protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss (SDG15).

The Global Landscapes Forum offers a live webcast, and you can also follow the proceedings on twitter @GlobalLF and using #GLFCOP21.