About · What is 4C

Providing independent, credible and innovative solutions for sustainable supply chains

The 4C Certification System

The Common Code for the Coffee Community (4C) was created through a participatory, extensive, transparent and balanced consultation with coffee stakeholders worldwide, and is operationalized by 4C Services. The 4C certification aims to gradually raise the social, economic and environmental conditions of coffee production and processing worldwide. In order to achieve this, the 4C Code of Conduct comprise

27 principles across economic, social and environmental dimensions based on good agricultural and management practices as well as international conventions and recognizes guidelines accepted in the coffee sector

10 Unacceptable Practices which have to be excluded before applying for 4C Certification

The 3 dimensions of sustainability

4C focuses the certification criteria in the 4C Code of Conduct on the three recognized dimensions of sustainability, and compiles 8 principles for the economic dimension, 9 principles for the social dimension and 10 principles for the environmental dimension:

Economic Sustainability

  • 3 principles on coffee farming as a business
  • 5 principles on the support to farmers by the Managing Entity of a 4C Unit

Social Sustainability

  • 2 principles applicable to all farmers and other business partners
  • 7 principles applicable to workers

Environmental Sustainability

  • 6 principles applicable to natural resources
  • 3 principles applicable to the use of agrochemicals
  • 1 principle applicable to energy

4C supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Through the strict application of the 10 unacceptable practices and its 27 principles, including effective improvement plans for participating farmers, 4C contributes to the protection of landscapes with high biodiversity and carbon values, the protection of natural resources and better working conditions along the supply chain. Improved agricultural practices and the participation in sustainable global supply chains significantly improves the livelihoods of farmers, their families, and the whole community. The resulting impacts therefore directly and indirectly contribute on many levels to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (or also known as Global Goals for Sustainable Development) are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations General Assembly. The goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice.

4C Services GmbH

4C Services is a global assurance service provider delivering high quality, independent, innovative and credible services in the coffee sector, for 4C Certification of the 4C Code of Conduct as well as assurance, integrity and progress measurement in coffee.

The services provided by 4C Services contribute to the long-term sustainability of the coffee supply chain through the certification of the 4C Code of Conduct, as a means for coffee growers and their communities to improve their coffee production and livelihoods.

4C Services believes that any single coffee farmer or any group of farmers (4C Units as described in the 4C Certification Regulations) is capable to comply with the 4C Code of Conduct. Some efforts or investments are expected, but the original and innovative concept of the 4C standard is one of the main pillars of the 4C system. The impact of this powerful concept and the benefits of the inclusive approach can be observed in several coffee countries.

Our Services at a Glance

4C Certificate Decisions

Evaluation of on-site audit reports and 4C Certificate decisions.

Approval of 4C Auditors

Training and assessment of independent auditors according to the 4C Certification System.

Integrity Program

Quality assurance of approved 4C Auditors. Internal and external oversight planning according to risk assessment and the 4C Quality Management System.

Data Collection & Analysis

Assessment of audit data and reporting.

Traceability and Commercial Reporting

Assessment of the traceability system and commercial reporting data.

4C Code and Certification System Training

Training on implementation of the 4C Code and Certification System.

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