The World Environment Center (WEC) has selected Starbucks Coffee Company to receive its 21st Annual Gold Medal for International Corporate Achievement in Sustainable Development for international leadership in sustainable development within the specialty coffee industry. This leadership was demonstrated by Starbucks development of 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 that are designed to contribute positively to the livelihoods of coffee farmers while placing an emphasis on environmental conservation and supply chain transparency.

Coffee affects the lives of over 25 million farmers in more than 70 countries around the world, many of which are developing regions. Traditional coffee production methods can often adversely affect the surrounding environment through the use of harmful chemicals and unnecessary deforestation. Although Starbucks purchases only two percent of the world’s coffee, it has used its position in the global marketplace to demonstrate how innovation in combining corporate social responsibility and business strategy can lead to long-term economic and environmental sustainability.

“Contributing positively to our communities and environment is at the heart of Starbucks,” says Howard Schultz, Starbucks Chairman. “Starbucks is committed to constantly improving our environmental footprint in every level of our supply chain, from coffee farmer to customer. We are honored to receive this award in recognition of our leadership in helping to ensure sustainability at origin.”

The WEC’s Gold Medal Jury based its award criteria on a comprehensive group of achievements that demonstrates superior performance in the areas of policy, implementation, and leadership in sustainable development. These ideals are exemplified in Starbucks innovative Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices Program—an initiative that provides incentives worldwide for suppliers who meet high quality, transparency, environmental, and labor standards. By 2007, the company has pledged to purchase more than 60 percent of its coffee from suppliers who grow coffee under C.A.F.E. Practices guidelines.

“Incentivizing growers with low cost loans, long-term contracts, and guaranteed prices is a pioneering new route to agricultural production,” says Gold Medal Jury Chairman Dr. Joel Abrams, Professor Emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh. “This creative new way of doing business has the potential to improve the lives of people and the global environment.” The Jury believes that Starbucks outstanding environmental leadership and achievements stand as a model to be emulated by agribusinesses throughout the world to help preserve and protect the environment.

The WEC Gold Medal Award will be presented at a formal gala on Friday, May 13, 2005, at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., in recognition of the company’s global leadership in sustainable development. Mr. Schultz will accept the award on behalf of Starbucks’ approximately 100,000 partners in 35 countries around the world.

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