SDG 1: No poverty

Here at Mamé Noka we aim to sell you the best coffee possible while also making it as sustainable of a product as we can. What makes Mamé Noka coffee more sustainable than regular coffee brands? It’s simple: we have set a couple of ground rules for ourselves which define the way we work. By following them we ensure that our coffee not only satisfies you but is also eco-friendly and beneficial for the people who produce it. We borrowed these rules from the sustainable development goals (SDG) created by the UN in 2015, four of which we focus on in particular.

What is sustainable developement?

Sustainable development has been defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. [1]

All this talk about sustainability begs the question: What even is sustainable development? The UN defines it as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Simply put it describes a progressive economy that does not exploit people or the planet and thus can continue for a very long time. Essentially this would mean ending poverty which goes hand in hand with providing decent work and quality of life to everyone as well as ending inequality and fighting climate change. It is such an important issue that a total of 197 nations (all 193 UN member states, its two observer states and two none UN states) have agreed to implement these 17 SDGs and aim to achieve them by 2030. [2]

Source: UN "Sustainable Developement"

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

What has all of this got to do with us or you? Well, we at Mamé Noka believe that change must come from everyone, not only from politicians but also from companies as well as consumers. We all need to take responsibility for our own actions, not sit and wait for governments or somebody else to initiate change. So to say it in the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” That’s why we have chosen to adopt four of the SDGs, those which we think are the most important and decisive for the company (numbers 1, 8, 12 and 13), as our core principals.

What is SDG 1?

End poverty in all its forms everywhere.

The first and foremost goal the UN proposes is to end poverty of any kind for every single person. Poverty is defined as living below the international poverty line which is set at 1.68€ per day. [3] This means that a person has less than 2€ a day to provide food, shelter, hygiene and all other necessities of life for themselves. In many cases it also prevents people from receiving education or basic health-care. That is why SDG 1 is intrinsically linked to the next three goals on the list: zero hunger, good health and well-being, and quality education. Because of their interconnectedness, fighting to achieve goal one will naturally lead to realizing the other SDGs as well. Unsurprisingly, poverty affects primarily people living in developing countries located mostly in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. It entails many negative consequences such as hunger, social exclusion and high vulnerability to diseases or natural disasters. It can also prevent people from finding work, thus trapping them in an endless cycle of unemployment and poverty.

As with all of the 17 goals the UN has also set a number of concrete targets which will work towards ending poverty for good.  One of them is to completely eradicate extreme poverty (living on less than 1.10€ a day) by 2030. Others include ensuring social protection for all, which means that everyone can rely on help from the government in times of crisis and unemployment caused by injuries, lay-offs, pregnancy and childbirth etc., and also giving equal rights to economic resources to all so that everyone has a fair chance of earning their living.

How does poverty affect the coffee industry?

When we look at the conditions in the coffee industry in particular it’s no wonder that many, many coffee growers struggle to get by and are living in poverty. While we as consumers pay between 10 and 30€ for a kilogram of coffee beans, the grower receives only a fraction of that; the monthly average international coffee price fell to 1.81€  per kilogram in May 2019. [4] These prices are dictated by the market not the growers themselves, who basically have no choice but to sell their product to whatever price they’re offered if they want to sell it at all. Because a lot of coffee farms are small and family-owned, the growers cannot produce the large amount of beans that would allow them to live above the poverty line. So even though coffee is worth over $100 billion worldwide [5], many of the farmers, essential to producing it, are struggling to survive every single day.

What can we do to help?

At this point you may be wondering how we as a single company can do anything to fight poverty and help the people suffering from it. Well, it’s quite simple: paying the right price for coffee, i.e. the amount it’s worth or should be worth, regardless of market prices will allow growers and their families to earn enough to climb above the poverty line. This would mean that they can not only survive on their income, but also seek education and healthcare as well as making necessary investments in their own farm to increase productivity whilst preserving the natural environment. And that’s why here at Mamé Noka we make sure that those producing our coffee get paid the amount they deserve. By working closely with farmers through projects such as Cameroon Boyo, we are able to trace exactly where our coffee comes from and what share of the money those who produce it receive. And by buying our product you too can contribute to the effort of improving living standards for coffee growers.

We know it might seem like only a drop in the ocean but every change has to begin somewhere. It is our responsibility as companies and consumers to make a conscious choice about the products we buy. We need to raise awareness on this subject so that together we can start a global movement towards sustainable a lifestyle. By doing so every single one of us can work towards achieving SDG 1 and ending poverty once and for all.


Check out part 2 here!


Want to read more on this topic?
Sustainable development and SDGs in general: UN websites [1] [2] [3], The Guardian
SDG 1: [1] [2]
Poverty in the coffee industry: daily coffee news, Business Insider

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