AT THE UNITED NATIONS
Cafeterias and coffee shops throughout the United Nations offices in New York are now serving sustainable coffee to the delegates, diplomats, and visitors who walk its prestigious halls.
Rainforest Alliance–certified coffee, acclaimed both for its gourmet taste and its assurances for protection of workers and the environment, will be supplied by Java City, a specialty coffee roaster, wholesaler and retailer.
"When you serve coffee at the United Nations, you are serving it to the world. And all of the coffee-growing countries around the globe are among the 192 U.N. member nations," said Dr. Noel Brown, former head of United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and a Rainforest Alliance Board member.
Coffee, the world's second largest commodity after oil, is subject to price volatility and economic upheavals just as oil is. More than 25 million workers are employed by the coffee industry worldwide, but overproduction has caused a plummet in prices, forcing many of them into poverty.
Virtually all coffee is grown in the tropics, where farming often ruins waterways and threatens the survival of rare plant and wildlife species. On Rainforest Alliance–certified farms, the environmental and social dimensions of coffee farming are significantly improved as soils are conserved, tropical forests are preserved and replanted, rivers and other key wildlife habitats are protected, and workers are provided fair wages, decent housing, schools, and access to health care.
"Over the past 20 years, the terms of trade have become worse for commodity farmers," said Dr. Adnan Amin, director of the New York office of UNEP. "The chemicals and waste produced by destructive coffee farming have an impact on our health, on our children, and on the environment. Certification adds value to these small producers, and is a real service to the international community. We would like to see more partnerships like this that affect real people in real, measurable terms."
"Serving Rainforest Alliance–certified coffee at U.N. Headquarters highlights the important relationship between biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction," said Sean Southey, manager of the United Nations Development Program's Equator Initiative. "Purchasing this coffee supports the world's coffee farmers and also ensures that the natural environment of coffee farms can be conserved for the future. Ultimately, how dollars are spent in the developed world has a major effect on sustainability in the developing world. At the United Nations, we have now have a chance to 'walk the talk' — to put our dollar behind the issues we talk about. This speaks to the future of sustainable development."
"We came out of [the World Summit for Sustainable Development in] Johannesburg with a strong mandate to form partnerships," said Brown. "The Rainforest Alliance's work with the coffee industry is such a partnership for sustainable development in action, one that the United Nations community will take seriously in helping to achieve its vision for a better world."
Demand is growing for sustainable coffee, due in large part to better taste. Sustainable coffees are mostly shade-grown, slowly, in carefully stewarded tropical environments, as opposed to clear-cut, full-sun, chemical-intensive, faster growing varieties which have lately wreaked havoc with the coffee commodities market as well as with tropical ecosystems. Sustainable practices involve intense hand labor, natural pest control through biodiversity, and careful matching of plant material and farming techniques to the local ecosystem.
Written by: Rainforest Alliance
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