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Coffee Giant Switzerland Launches the Swiss Sustainable Coffee Platform

Swiss Sustainable Coffee Platform (SSCP)

Swiss Sustainable Coffee Platform (SSCP) logo.

A new multi-stakeholder initiative (MSI) called the Swiss Sustainable Coffee Platform (SSCP) just launched as the global coffee industry continues to grapple with sustainability challenges.

Heralded by its founders as a critical step in addressing social and economic injustices in the coffee sector, the initiative has also been criticized for charging fees to participate and for not demanding more accountability from roasters and traders.

Supported by the Swiss government’s economic affairs agency SECO, the initiative is designed to bring together actors from the Swiss coffee industry, civil society (NGOs), and academia to work towards sustainability solutions regarding farmer prosperity, human rights and environmental issues.

Despite its relatively small small size, Switzerland remains a giant in the global coffee trade due to the number of large multinational coffee companies based there, including Nestlé, Volcafe, Sucafina, Ecom and others.

coffee beans

The new Swiss Sustainable Coffee Platform (SSCP) is tapping into private-sector engagement already established through an umbrella organization of the country’s three main trade associations called the Community of Interest Coffee Switzerland (CI).

“Both the Swiss Coffee Trade Association and our member companies have been calling for greater sustainability in the coffee value chain for years,” Nicolas A. Tamari, president of the Swiss Coffee Trade Association, said in a government announcement of the MSI launch. “However, a lot of work remains to be done. We are convinced that this platform is the right path to taking shared responsibility.”

MSIs have become increasingly popular mechanisms within the global coffee industry, which has historically failed to address issues such as widespread poverty among farmers, environmental degradation in coffee supply chains and human rights abuses among farmworkers. 

While MSIs have been proven to successfully engage more actors in sustainability planning, they have also been called into question in the coffee industry for potentially allowing corporations to reshape the sustainability narrative for their own benefit.

One particularly critical piece from the Swiss watchdog NGO Public Eye described the SSCP as “another legally non-binding chatterbox.”

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