Chapter 22: Fair trade coffee and environmental sustainability in Latin America
Certified tropical agricultural products promoting ‘environmentally friendly’ farming practices form a growing part of mainstream markets and international sustainable development investments (Beddington et al. 2012; Herrero et al. 2010; Raynolds et al. 2007). Certified sustainable coffee accounts for more than 9 per cent of international coffee sales and is projected to increase to 18 per cent by 2015 (COSA 2013). Although detailed farm, household, community and value chain-based research continues, it generally lags behind these changing markets, eco-labels and farming practices. Researchers often analyze the social impacts of fair trade in producer communities (Bacon 2005) or analyze the environmental performance of organic, Rainforest Alliance and Bird Friendly certifications (Rice 2000). Overall, there is a scarcity of ‘methodical environmental assessment’ of fair trade (Nelson and Pound 2009), although a few studies include environmental impacts in their broader analysis of sustainable livelihoods, fair trade and organic production in Latin America (e.g., Bacon et al. 2008; COSA 2013; Jaffee 2007; Lyon 2013). This leaves a gap in the research focused on fair trade and environmental sustainability. In this chapter we analyze the environmental impacts of fair trade coffee in Latin America and the Caribbean. We focus on coffee, since coffee landscapes account for the largest area in Latin America associated with the certification, and 80 per cent of the world’s fair trade coffee hails from Latin American farms that average 2.6 hectares (Fairtrade International 2012). We identify three environmental impacts: biodiversity conservation, pollution reduction and climate change adaptation.
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