Coffee plants require mild, humid and steady temperatures to thrive. Therefore, coffee production, that is mostly concentrated in the coffee belt around the equator, is threatened by increasing global temperatures due to climate change. This is particularly problematic for smallholder producers, whose livelihood depends on coffee production, making them vulnerable to unstable production factors. The dynamics of climate change thus impose risks to the coffee production systems, local communities and adjacent ecosystems, e.g. by pushing plantations into higher elevations and untouched natural landscapes. In addition, the production system that is dominated by smallholder producers is often ramified and thus difficult to monitor. The complexity, vulnerability and dynamic of coffee production lead to major challenges for companies, authorities, auditors and NGOs when it comes to the monitoring and verification of sustainable and zero-deforestation coffee supply chains.
GRAS provides the possibility to map and monitor sustainability risks from sourcing area level down to single farms and plantations. These efficient and user-friendly risk assessments are now increasingly being used by the coffee sector. For instance, the coffee certification scheme 4C applies GRAS as a supportive tool for risk level identification and audit preparation purposes. On 12th – 13th March 2019, 4C conducted a training in Bogotá, Colombia, to introduce auditors and other interested organizations and companies to the GRAS risk assessment tool. They were taught how to detect sustainability risk hotspots in a time- and cost-efficient manner, based on the four main topics land use change, biodiversity, carbon stock and social indices. The results of the analysis can be used to better focus on-site audits and improvement actions on the areas where they are most urgently needed.
If you are interested to learn more about the GRAS risk assessment in the coffee sector, please click here.