USAID and coffee industry co-create Robusta carbon footprint baselines in Vietnam and Indonesia

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May 31, 2023 (BANGKOK) — The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Green Invest Asia released the final report from an unprecedented 15-company collaboration that created a carbon emissions baseline of Robusta coffee production in Vietnam and Indonesia.  As the two top global Robusta coffee-sourcing nations, these two countries supply 20 percent of the world’s total coffee output, valued at $3 billion annually,  helping to standardize such measurements in Southeast Asia’s coffee sector.

“The story that emerges from these data points will shape the industry’s outlook for years to come,” said Steve G. Olive, Mission Director of USAID’s Regional Development Mission for Asia.  “Buyers and their suppliers will be on stronger footing to be more climate-resilient, more profitable, and more prepared.”

In March 2022, with co-investment from the world’s two largest coffee roasters, Nestlé and JDE Peet’s, USAID Green Invest Asia, a technical assistance facility that helps sustainable agriculture and forestry companies in Southeast Asia secure climate finance, launched  a carbon footprint study in the Central Highlands of Vietnam and Southern Sumatra in Indonesia. Lavazza Group and Costa Coffee later joined and co-invested in the collaboration, creating the largest-scale effort, to date, to calculate a carbon emissions baseline of on-farm carbon emissions from Robusta coffee cultivation and production in Southeast Asia. Eleven of their supply-sourcing partners  from Vietnam and Indonesia mobilized and financed over 100 agronomists to survey and collect field data from more than 4,500 farms over four months.

Study participants plan to expand data gathering and collaborate on shared climate interventions in the region, and beyond.  “The next step is for us…to consolidate the lessons learned from this collaboration by starting the same activities in other countries with the same pre-competitive approach. This is critical to quickly drive meaningful climate action,” said Angela Aiello, Environmental Sustainability & Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Manager for Lavazza Group. Laurence Webb, Sustainability Manager for Costa Coffee, said the study is a baseline for “a lot of our thinking about driving down the footprint on farms going forward.”

“By implementing this initiative, a lot of very significant coffee suppliers and other value chain actors can fast track their own knowledge, build and become better prepared to incorporate carbon reduction goals and actions in their operations,” said Marcelo Burity, Head of Green Coffee Development at Nestlé. “While we very much enjoy hearing the result of this initiative, Nestlé is already looking across the world to Latin America as a confirmed supporter and co-funding partner of a similar initiative for the main coffee producing countries in that continent.” Building on the USAID-supported study in Southeast Asia, the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, which includes Nestlé, plans to conduct a similar study in Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico and Peru.

“I am encouraged by the outcomes of the study and the opportunity it has created to replicate this type of work in other coffee producing countries. This will further stimulate alignment and capacity across the industry to measure and monitor on-farm carbon emissions,” said Niels Haak, Director of Sustainable Coffee Partnerships for Conservation International, which convenes and facilitates the Sustainable Coffee Challenge. “It’s ultimately much more efficient… to collaborate, not only to measure carbon emissions, but also to design and implement solutions that will really drive down coffee’s carbon footprint.”

“If we think about the footprint as a sort of a measure of the resilience of our farmer community, it’s not an end in its own right,” said Simon Fox, Minimizing Footprint Lead for JDE Peet’s. “It’s about how we continue to keep supporting and improving. And information helps us to drive that change.”

Michael Schlup, Head of Impact and Environmental & Social Director of the investment firm Sail Ventures, which manages the blended finance &Green Fund, said the study affirmed the attractiveness of the coffee supply chain for Sail Ventures as a target for investments. “There’s really willingness of the sector to work together pre competitively, to provide important background information, and also a willingness of the sector to really transition and act on act based on information. And for us, that is a key prerequisite, when we make an investment.” USAID Green Invest Asia supported the &Green Fund with two separate jurisdictional assessments to determine if Laos PDR and Vietnam were eligible for the fund’s investments.

The final report, data tables, and technical insights on the Robusta coffee carbon baseline study are available for download here.




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