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Press Relases May 18, 2005

Starbucks Receives 2005 World Environment Center Gold Medal

Award given for Sustainable Coffee Sourcing Program, developed in partnership with Conservation International

Washington, DC — The World Environment Center (WEC) has awarded Starbucks Coffee Company the 21st annual Gold Medal for International Corporate Achievement in Sustainable Development.

The award was presented to Starbucks for its Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices, a set of environmentally, socially and economically responsible coffee buying guidelines created in conjunction with Conservation International (CI). C.A.F.E. Practices is designed to build long-term relationships with suppliers of high quality coffee who demonstrate excellent performance on sustainability criteria addressing issues such as healthy workplace conditions and conservation of natural ecosystems.

“Starbucks is an excellent example of how a global leader can influence the marketplace in ways that help improve farmers’ livelihoods while contributing to environmental solutions,” said Glenn Prickett, executive director of CI’s Center for Environmental Leadership in Business (CELB). “We congratulate Starbucks on receiving this prestigious award, and look forward to our continued joint efforts to promote positive outcomes for people and biodiversity in coffee growing countries.”

The C.A.F.E. Practices Evaluation guidelines comprise 26 criteria covering environmental and social performance in the growing and processing of coffee. Participating suppliers must meet Starbucks high standards for coffee quality and demonstrate economic transparency in payments to coffee farmers. The Guidelines’ objective is to further Starbucks commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of farmers and their communities by promoting the sustainability of coffee production.

By 2007, Starbucks intends to purchase 60 percent of its coffee from suppliers who successfully implement the C.A.F.E. Practices guidelines.

WEC’s Gold Medal for International Corporate Achievement in Sustainable Development was established in 1985 to recognize preeminent industry leadership initiatives and contributions to worldwide environmental quality and sustainable development. An independent jury composed of distinguished international environmental experts gives the award annually. The jury carefully examines all applications submitted by qualified multinational companies each year. Each nomination is examined for a clearly articulated set of values, a history of proven accomplishment, a global outlook and a commitment to sustainable development.

Since Starbucks and CI began working together in 1998, the collaboration has produced significant benefits for habitat conservation and farmer livelihoods in key coffee producing countries such as Mexico, Colombia and Peru. Beginning with its flagship site along the buffer zone of the El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve in southern Mexico, CI established several Conservation Coffee projects within regions scientists have classified as biodiversity hotspots.

There are 34 biodiversity hotspot regions worldwide where 75 percent of the planet’s most threatened mammals, birds, and amphibians survive within habitat covering just 2.3 percent of the Earth’s surface (roughly equivalent to the combined areas of the five largest U.S. states). This habitat originally covered 15.7 percent of the Earth’s surface, an area equivalent in size to Russia and Australia combined. New hotspot analysis shows that an estimated 50 percent of all vascular plants and 42 percent of terrestrial vertebrates exist only in these 34 hotspots.

CI works directly with farmers to promote environmentally responsible growing practices, such as water and soil conservation, crop diversification, and chemical fertilizer and pesticide reduction that help protect the surrounding forests, streams and wildlife. Starbucks has provided financial support for CI’s Conservation Coffee program, as well as technical assistance in order to help farmers raise the quality of their coffee and create a market for their crops.

Additionally, CI manages the $6 million Verde Ventures fund, which provides debt and equity financing to coffee cooperatives and other small businesses contributing to biodiversity conservation in CI’s priority areas. In January 2004, Starbucks announced a $2.5 million direct loan to help capitalize the fund.

The World Environment Center (WEC) is an independent, not-for-profit, non-advocacy organization. Working with the private sector, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and academia, the WEC promotes sustainable development by encouraging leadership, improving health and safety practices worldwide, and fostering the efficient use of natural resources to protect the global environment. The WEC supports its mission through three central programs: the International Environment Forum (IEF); the WEC Gold Medal Award; and Capacity Building for the Environment programs. For more information about the WEC, please visit or email [email protected].

Julian Teixeria


Conservation International’s Center for Environmental Leadership in Business (CELB) provides a new forum for collaboration between the private sector and the environmental community. Created in partnership with Conservation International (CI) and the Ford Motor Company, CELB operates as a division of CI and is governed by a distinct executive board of leaders from the business and environmental communities-engaging the private sector worldwide in creating solutions to critical global environmental problems in which industry plays a defining role. For further information about CELB, please visit


Katrin Olson
[email protected]

 Photo credits for banner image: (Zebras in Botswana) © CI, Chris Brooks