Sustainable cocoa and coffee

More coffee, less CO2: towards a carbon-neutral coffee in Ecuador and Peru

April 23, 2024

Now more than ever, consumers want to know where their coffee comes from. They prefer it to be ethically and environmentally sustainable, and are willing to pay a premium for it.  As a result, low-carbon coffee has become the dream of many producers, as a way to reach high-value markets. The promise of certified carbon neutral coffee is even more ambitious, taking them one step further into the future.

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Zamora Chinchipe (Ecuador), Cajamarca (Peru)

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6500 coffee growers from 10 cooperatives in Cajamarca; 30 young entrepreneurs in Cajamarca; 79 technicians and leaders from both countries

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But rising temperatures, increased pest risk and unpredictable rainfall threaten this dream. Expanding the agricultural frontier poses additional problems to increasing C02 emissions: deforestation, water depletion, loss of biodiversity. Producers and their organisations are faced with investments that increase every year. They have to make decisions based on the information they have at hand.  

More and more farmers are starting to see how climate change affects them and see their livelihoods threatened. They recognise the impact of their production on mitigating and reducing carbon emissions. And they know that the future of sustainable production lies in addressing critical areas of the production process and using agroforestry systems.

Our approach

The project is a commitment to a product that has a smaller environmental footprint and is aimed at a growing market. Find out how:

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More coffee, less CO2 creates a starting point in the Southern Andean region to develop strategies and policies that allow for neutral coffee, in compliance with international standards and certifications for environmentally friendly practices.

  • We promote training programmes on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and agroforestry system design for technicians, producers and farmer leaders.
  • We ensure those trained in LCA methodology are certified.
  • We support the creation of tools and guidelines for planning and applying models in the field.
  • We systematise experiences that contribute to analysing sub-national and national climate change policies and strategies.
  • We partner and co-create in multi-stakeholder spaces to promote carbon neutral coffee.
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  • In Ecuador, Farmer Field Schools have been developed as a training programme, validated by the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP) and the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL), to train producers and technicians in the coffee sector on key issues such as the Life Cycle Approach and agroforestry system management.
  • In Ecuador, the project completed a pioneering formulation of vulnerability analysis and mechanisms for GHG reduction and carbon sequestration in the coffee chain. The report categorises the GHG mitigation and sequestration parameters applicable to coffee production and provides an interpretation of climate change. It also addresses best practices for low-carbon coffee production, including a focus on the conservation of carbon sinks in forests, which is fundamental for the Amazon region.
  • In Peru and Ecuador, 35 technicians and producer leaders have been trained to provide technical assistance and guidance on life cycle analysis and sustainable agroforestry systems.  
  • In Peru, 44 technicians and producers in Cajamarca have been certified in the use of life cycle analysis with the support of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP).
  • In Peru, multi-stakeholder spaces such as the Cajamarca Coffee Multi-stakeholder Platform and the Amazon Coffee Technical Roundtable are being consolidated to promote carbon sequestration solutions.
  • For Peru, the project produced a guide for the design and implementation of agroforestry system models based on the LCA methodology, a public technical document calling for collective action to implement climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies, as part of a knowledge management and awareness-raising strategy.
  • In Peru, the PMACC (facilitated by Rikolto) has formalised a specialised multi-stakeholder committee for the co-creation of policies and strategies at the sub-national level. Three leading organisations, the National Service of Protected Natural Areas - SERNANP, the regional government of Cajamarca and the Red Técnica del Norte cooperative, are developing a carbon neutral coffee roadmap for the Cajamarca region.

Who do we work with?

With the support of the Flemish government

Cajamarca Coffee Multi-stakeholder platform
Government of Flanders


Napoleón Molina

Sustainable Cocoa and Coffee programme director in Latin America | Regional director

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