As the sole International Commodity Body for coffee, and a respected intergovernmental organization which speaks for both producers and consumers, the ICO has a focal role to play in channelling international cooperation and developing effective political solutions and coffee policy to strengthen the global coffee sector.
The ICO works in partnership with Governments, private sector organizations, development agencies and specialized coffee agencies enabling it to achieve synergies and benefit from the experience and expertise of relevant bodies.
Governments: The International Coffee Council meets twice a year, enabling Members to have high-level personal contacts and discussions with other policy-makers. The latest reports and studies on the coffee market are discussed, information on coffee policy is delivered, programmes of work and projects are approved, and substantive matters such as sustainability and phytosanitary issues are considered. Solutions and coffee policy agreed by the Council include:
- A Coffee Quality-Improvement Programme that establishes target standards for exportable coffee plays an important role in improving the quality of coffee on the world market in the interests of both producers and consumers.
- Coffee development projects to promote coffee price risk management, access to credit, strengthen the commercial and management capacity of producers and improve quality.
- Implementing an action plan to address the crisis of low prices from 2000-2004 which included promoting initiatives to increase consumption, improving quality and establishing a diversification programme
Private sector: The ICO Private Sector Consultative Board (PSCB) provides a platform for representatives of private sector organizations of exporting and importing Governments. Representatives from 16 associations review issues that include increasing the value and volume of worldwide coffee consumption, development of a sustainable coffee sector, food safety, quality and matters relating to the coffee supply chain.
Stakeholders: World Coffee Conferences and the Consultative Forum on Coffee Sector Finance facilitate consultations among a wide range of coffee stakeholders on issues of concern to the global coffee sector and topics related to finance and risk management.
Partnerships with international organizations and specialized coffee agencies: Collaboration with organizations such as the FAO and the International Trade Centre (ITC) enable the ICO to channel the experience and expertise of these bodies to help developing countries.
The ICO prepares policy papers and reports on the coffee sector which are widely disseminated to organizations such as UNCTAD, the G-8, the World Trade Organization and other organizations dealing with commodities. ‘Coffee: An Exporter’s Guide’ and ’The State of Sustainable Coffee‘ are practical examples of publications developed in cooperation with the ITC and the World Bank.
The ICO also works closely with the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) and other agencies on coffee development projects to benefit small coffee farmers worldwide.
International and local coffee institutions appointed to oversee the implementation of CFC/ICO projects include CABI, Eastern African Fine Coffees Association, InterAfrican Coffee Organisation, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and United Nations Office for Project Services.