Cooperation with other standards

All sustainability standard initiatives recognize that closer collaboration will help put a greater number of producers on the road toward sustainability. Through its pre-competitive approach, the 4C Association seeks to foster cooperation between the standards and unite efforts in the coffee sector. It does so by promoting other sustainability standards in the market and by using the 4C Code of Conduct as a tool for farmers to step up to more demanding certification schemes.


“The 4C Code of Conduct provided us with a solid basis to step up from
the 4C baseline standard to the SAN Standards. We already had an advanced awareness of the importance and value of implementing environmental and
social friendly practices. For instance, awareness had been raised about
the need to protect the natural resources, provide better treatment for workers
as well as equal salaries and more.”

— Engineer Próspero Trejo, coffee farmer and Managing Director of
Cooperative Ciudad Barrios, 4C Member in El Salvador —

Promotion of sustainability standards

The Association actively promotes sustainability standards and initiatives to create supply of and demand for verified and certified coffee. Three of the most recognized certification standard setting organizations in the coffee sector, Fairtrade InternationalUTZ Certified and the Rainforest Alliance, are already members of the 4C Association and are engaging with the association to broaden their impact.

Moreover, the 4C Association encourages coffee buyers to purchase increasing amounts of 4C verified coffee as well as certified coffee from other sustainability initiatives. The objective is to build a sustainable coffee community through 100% sector compliance to -at least- baseline sustainability standards.

Stepping-up to other sustainability standards

The 4C Code of Conduct sets farmers on their sustainability journey and allows for progressive improvement easing future compliance efforts.

In 2010, the 4C Association cooperated with the SalvaNATURA Foundation in a pilot exercise in El Salvador. With SalvaNATURA’s technical support, a  group of 132 farmers stepped up from the baseline 4C Code of Conduct to SAN Standards. Read more about this experience in 4C Voices. If you want to find out more about how the project developed, read the project report.

A similar stepping up project to bring coffee producers from the 4C baseline standard to UTZ CERTIFIED was recently initiated in Colombia. The project is a joint initiative between the 4C Association, UTZ CERTIFIED and the Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia (FNC) and is being financed by Tchibo GmbH and the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH).