Standard Setting Organizations

To create a coffee world in which sustainability is the norm, it is imperative that all actors cooperate, especially sustainability initiatives and standards.

The 4C Association works to enhance this cooperation and actively promotes all sustainability standards in the market. Moreover, the 4C Association encourages its members to continuously improve their performance and step up from the 4C baseline standards to more demanding schemes. 

Fairtrade International, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Certified, three of the most recognized standard setting organizations in the coffee sector, are already members of the 4C Association. If you are a standard setting organization, there are several reasons why joining the 4C Association can benefit you:


Melanie Rutten-Sülz, 4C Executive Director, hands over 4C membership certificate to Han de Groot, Executive Director of UTZ Certified, in June 2011.

Help scaling up volumes of sustainable sourced coffee 

Working with standard setting organizations provides an efficient way for coffee companies to manage their supply chain. It also gives buyers flexibility in reaching their specific sustainability goals by combining coffee that meets the requirements of different standards in their product range. Consider the following scenario where a roaster adapts the sustainably produced coffee in a brand with the following ratios:

  • 0% sustainability 
  • 50% 4C Compliant Coffee: 50% not sustainably sourced 
  • 50% sustainable certified coffee: 50% 4C Compliant  
  • and eventually 100% sustainable certified coffee.

With the 4C Association, it is possible to combine coffees from other sustainability schemes with 4C Compliant Coffee. By cooperating with and recognizing the 4C standard as the baseline, you open up a new range of possibilities to engage with companies and help them achieve their sustainability goals –contributing to bring more sustainable production to the entire coffee sector.

Meet the demand of stakeholders for increasing cooperation among standards 

More and more producer organizations, companies and development agencies in the coffee sector are requesting that standard setting organizations cooperate to avoid duplication of efforts. By joining the 4C Association and working to create synergies, you can demonstrate that you are making serious efforts to avoid duplication of work and ease the compliance efforts of farmers. 

Engage in the global multi-stakeholder platform

Be part of a global community comprising producer, trade and industry members, and civil society organizations that have serious goals for making the coffee sector more sustainable. The 4C Association regularly organizes forums and meetings providing participants with the opportunity to interact and make new contacts and find ways they can work together. 


Enhance synergies in capacity building and field implementation for farmers!

All sustainability standards strive to improve the livelihoods of coffee farming communities and preserve the natural environment. To achieve this, certification schemes dedicate much of their financial and human resources to capacity building and training activities at the producer level. By working together and creating synergies, different sustainability schemes can reduce their efforts and improve efficiency saving time and money. Cooperation between initiatives can include exchange of training tools and materials, project partnership and co-organization of sustainability events.

As the baseline sustainability standard, the 4C Code of Conduct can act as a tool for producer groups to initiate their sustainability journey and then step up their performance to comply with more demanding standards. This can lower the training efforts needed to bring producer groups into compliance with other certification standards. The 4C Association already works with Fairtrade International, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Certified on this approach.

Go to 4C Voices to read about the Stepping up Pilot Project in El Salvador.