The International Coffee Organization (ICO), which is based in the British capital, is preparing for a change in its structure that promises to be a model for other international commodity entities: bringing the private sector into its ranks. The Brazilian proposal, which currently commands the institution, already has an informal consensus of its members, as Ambassador Marco Farani, of the Permanent Representation of Brazil to the International Organizations (Rebraslon) in London, told the Broadcast.
The formal vote on the new International Coffee Agreement - which should also change its organization chart, merging and creating new committees - should take place in the first half of 2022, at the meetings scheduled for February and April. The entry into force of the entity's new configuration, however, should only be completed in three or four years, depending on the speed of approval of the change by the parliaments of the countries that make up the ICO.
In the case of Brazil, it would be an opportunity for institutions such as the Council of Coffee Exporters in Brazil (Cecafé), the Brazilian Association of the Soluble Coffee Industry (Abics), the National Coffee Council (CNC) and the Brazilian Specialty Coffee Association (BSCA), among others, will be heard directly by those who formulate the paths to be followed by the sector. Brazil is the largest producer and exporter of the commodity and the second largest consumer of coffee in the world.
The participation of the private sector in the ICO would be made only through representation, with a voice in the discussions, but these private entities, however, will continue to have no votes in the decisions. "The ICO is an intergovernmental organization today and the idea is that it will continue to be," explained the ambassador. The incorporation of private associations, however, is seen as an important form of modernization of the institution, since they will be able to present first-hand their views on measures and measures to be adopted by the sector, involving the entire coffee area.
“In practice, the activity is in the hands of companies, not governments. And for the organization to become relevant and current, it has to incorporate the private sector ”, argued Farani. “There is no way to have an old model anymore, with decisions made by governments alone. This is something very old, from the time when it was thought that the government would solve all the problems. Without dialogue between the parties, there is no progress. The government cannot operate in a viable and productive way without considering the private sector ”, he continued.
The ambassador reported that there is an understanding within the ICO today that this change will strengthen the entire chain at the international level and provide more conditions for tangible results of actions to be seen. According to the Brazilian proposal, the Association of Coffee Producers, Exporters, Importers and Distributors from all member countries may participate in the Organization, in addition to the institution also being open to representatives of the financial and third sectors. Given that a consensus has already been formed around incorporation, discussions are now on how this integration will take place.
At the moment, standards are being set so that they can be followed by all countries. For example: to define what associations are and how big they must be in order to be part of the ICO. Another point that is being debated at the moment is the amount to be paid each year by the association that decides to join the organization. Despite having a budget that is considered lean by its members, of around 2 million pounds sterling a year, the organization is clear that it does not want private resources as a way to maintain itself, even to avoid conflicts of interest and to continue to act independently.
This payment must also be more symbolic than robust for the entity's cash to allow associations from poorer countries to also qualify for the ICO. "It is a way for the organization to be more democratic," said the ambassador.
Although the commercial part of the relations between the members of the ICO is that of more evident gains, Farani believes that the integration of the private sector will bring advances for the organization in other areas. One of them is the one that deals with the inclusion for the segment of the ESG criteria, an acronym in English that is currently in evidence in all the productive areas and that deals with environmental, social and governance standards.
In the evaluation of the Rebraslon representative, with the joint discussions, the sector will be able to tackle problems and agree on production models and trade practices from the point of view of sustainability. “We want it not to be just a change in the mercantile fund chain. It is a very important step for the Organization, a major paradigm shift. ” Farani pointed out that companies have incorporated ESG into their practices and that this would then be the most appropriate time for the ICO to update itself.
In addition, the new ICO model would become a reference for other international commodity entities, according to the ambassador. There are some international institutions that already have private participation, such as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The case of the United Nations agency is specific, according to Farani, because the inclusion of the private sector was due to the standardization of international norms in the area.
Brazilian nomination for the ICO Executive Board
The mandate of the current executive of the entity, the Brazilian José Sette, extends until April 30, 2022. He communicated to the diplomatic corps of the Permanent Representation of Brazil to the International Organizations in London (Rebraslon) his decision not to run again.
As a result, entities in the coffee production chain in Brazil made the recommendation of Vanusia Nogueira, current executive director of the Brazilian Association of Special Coffees (BSCA), with the Federal Government, as the Brazilian candidate for the executive board of the ICO.
In this context, the Brazilian Association of the Coffee Industry (Abic), the Brazilian Association of the Soluble Coffee Industry (Abics), the Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock of Brazil (CNA), the Council of Coffee Exporters of Brazil (Cecafé) and the National Coffee Council (CNC) consider Vanusia to have the curriculum that qualifies it as an excellent name to drive the modernization of the ICO and global coffee production from 2022. Learn more about the nomination here .
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