Countries / Territories

Trade and Environment projects

  • Capacity building on carbon standards for export in agricultural products

    In East Africa, ITC is working with the tea, fruit and vegetable sectors with the overall objective to strengthen the capacity of agricultural exporters to deal with carbon standards, mitigate greenhouse-gas emissions and access adaptation financing.

    PCF cover pictureSmall and medium-sized enterprises face particular challenges related to the emergence of carbon standards because of the costs of data collection, and the time and effort required to learn about and meet these new market requirements.

    To guide exporters through the processes involved in product carbon footprinting, ITC has recently published a technical paper, Product Carbon Footprinting Standards in the Agri-food sector. The paper aims to make it easier for exporters to understand the processes involved, improve their environmental performance and ultimately to reduce the costs for their business.

    Building on this work, ITC partnered up with COLEACP-PIP to organize a workshop in Naivasha, Kenya in December 2011 on the role of carbon and water standards in trade. The aim of the workshop was to introduce the issue to exporters and local service providers (national consultants, experts and sector organizations). More information on the workshop, including the programme and presentations can be found here.

    Group photo Naivasha workshop

    In 2012 ITC plans to continue working with COLEACP-PIP by providing targeted assistance to local service providers, and fruit and vegetable companies in Kenya. Building on feedback from the December workshop, ITC and COLEACP-PIP are developing a more detailed training manual on the subject and will begin to roll out trainings later this year.

    Climate-change mitigation and adaptation in the tea sector

    ITC has joined forces with the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP), the Rainforest Alliance and FLO-CERT to support smallholder tea farmers to both adapt to and mitigate the impact of climate change associated with their supply chains.

    Increased temperatures and changes to rainfall patterns will influence both the quantity and quality of tea production, posing a threat especially to vulnerable smallholder tea farmers. In Kenya, farmers are already reporting impacts on the quality and quantity of the tea they produce. As global temperature rise further, it is predicted that these impacts will intensify as farmers experience more frequent droughts and pest infestations.

    At the same time, a growing number of companies and consumers are interested in understanding the climate change impact of the goods they produce and consume. Many new market requirements, including product carbon footprinting standards, have started to emerge in developed countries and emerging economies. While these new market requirements can offer opportunities to increase efficiencies along the supply chain, for smallholders, including tea farmers, they can be costly and technically complex to comply with.

    Dedicated resources on climate change mitigation in the tea sector are currently not available for tea farmers. ITC, ETP, Rainforest Alliance and FLO-CERT seek address this need and aim to make supply changes more robust to increasing environmental pressures, and to support smallholder farmers to meet new and emerging market requirements created in response to climate change. This pilot project is run in Kenya and will involve close cooperation with the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA).

    Past projects

    Environmental impact of air-freighted products (2007)

    AirplaneIn 2007 the Soil Association, UK certifier of organic produce, proposed that organic certification be withdrawn for airfreighted products because of the high greenhouse-gas emissions associated with airfreight.,

    ITC published research that showed that withdrawing organic certification for airfreighted products would have a profound impact on local economies, affecting more than 20,000 people linked to the organic sector in Africa. Land-locked countries depending on airfreight are particularly vulnerable.

    A subsequent study carried out for ITC reviewed the environmental costs and benefits of importing food, and found that 'food miles' is a simplistic and misleading indicator for environmental sustainability. In presenting these two studies, ITC in partnership with the UK's Department for International Development, UNEP and UNCTAD argued that African exporters be allowed to continue using airfreight unhindered.

    In 2008, the Soil Association withdrew the proposed move.


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