Have we sold sustainability short? Past advances and next steps in the coffee sector’s sustainability journey

Friday, November 13th - 12:15PM - 01:00PM CST

Janina grabs

PhD. Janina Grabs

PhD. Janina Grabs, Postdoctoral researcher, Environmental Policy Lab, Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences, ETH Zurich

The coffee sector is a trailblazer when it comes to private sustainability standard adoption, with up to an estimated 40% of global supply certified or verified as sustainable. But does this translate to sustainable outcomes on the ground? In her book “Selling sustainability short?”, Dr. Janina Grabs combines an impact evaluation of over 1,900 farmers with rich qualitative evidence from the coffee sectors of Honduras, Colombia and Costa Rica to assess how far the sector has traveled on its journey to sustainability. She finds that important advances have been made in promoting sustainable intensification in the field, but that private sustainability standards have been limited in promoting sustainable practices that create economic opportunity costs for farmers, such as agroforestry or agroecology. This talk will give an overview of the core arguments of the book, and suggest next steps for the sector, with a special focus on sharing responsibility for the true cost of sustainability.