Fairtrade Coffee Standard update aims to tackle deforestation

The updated standard includes a provision that sets the deforestation cut-off date at 1 January 2014

Fairtrade International has updated its Coffee Standard requiring certified producers and traders (payers and conveyers) to strengthen deforestation prevention, monitoring, and mitigation.  

The move, which aims to reduce environmental degradation, meets and in some areas exceeds the European Union’s Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) that took effect in June 2023. 

One of the key elements of the updated standards is a provision that sets the deforestation cut-off date at 1 January 2014. As such, no Fairtrade coffee can come from land deforested after that point. By comparison, the EUDR cutoff date is 31 December 2020.

Around 10 million hectares of forest are destroyed every year.

While the EUDR requires geolocation data, the Fairtrade Standard goes further by requiring producer organisations to collect this information, and payers and conveyors to report it to Fairtrade and also share this with the producer organisations to prevent deforestation. 

The Fairtrade Standard requires not only monitoring and risk assessment but also a biodiversity monitoring and management plan, something not included in the EUDR requirements.

The new rules also require farms to have recorded geolocation points, and farms larger than four (4) hectares must have polygon maps. 

Juan Pablo Solis, senior advisor on climate and environment at Fairtrade International, explained that the updated Coffee Standard is important because it represents a big step in the right direction.

“There is no denying we are living in an era of climate crisis,” he said. “For farmers and workers, the frequency and severity of climate variability means high exposure to human and environmental risks that jeopardise their livelihoods. It is no secret that climate change directly impacts smallholders’ future, hence a significant change in our global food system is paramount.”

The update will also impact coffee co-operatives, which will asked to develop a prevention and mitigation plan as well as conduct deforestation monitoring that will be facilitated by a satellite platform provided by Fairtrade. 

To support producers on this journey Fairtrade has established a partnership with Satelligence, a Dutch NatureTech company that can provide deforestation tracking, which will allow producer organisations to have access to data and act on risks identified.

Fairtrade estimates that the new measures will enable 600 Fairtrade coffee co-operatives, representing 870,000 Fairtrade coffee farmers cultivating 1.1 million hectares, to have the guidance and tools to meet the EUDR, which is part of the European Green Deal.

Producers and traders will have to comply with the new standard from 2026. The review of the standards was carried out by Fairtrade International’s Standards and Pricing Unit, through a process in which farmers and farm workers were also involved.