Voluntary action on climate (NAMA): Low-Carbon Coffee Costa Rica

Project description

Title: NAMA Support Project: Low-Carbon Coffee Costa Rica
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU); British Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
Country: Costa Rica
Lead executing agency: Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía (MINAE)
Overall term: 2015 to 2019



Costa Rica has set itself the target of becoming completely independent of fossil fuels by 2050, as defined by its National Decarbonisation Plan. The country has comprehensive strategies and action plans in place, including Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) in various areas to achieve these ambitious climate targets.

The top priority is reducing emissions in the coffee industry, from cultivation through to processing. The intensive use of nitrogen-based fertilisers and the resource-intensive processing make coffee cultivation one of the largest sources of emissions in the agricultural sector. In the light of high production costs and global competition, the profitability of coffee production is based on high quality, improved resource and cost efficiency, increased differentiation of products and access to new markets. Costa Rica is one of the first countries in the world to promote climate-friendly coffee cultivation with a focus on an innovative end product.


A total of 6,000 Costa Rican coffee farmers and employees at 50 coffee mills have the knowledge and technical skills required to introduce and use climate-friendly cultivation and processing methods. Sustainability certificates identify Costa Rican coffee as an environmentally and climate-friendly alternative – the reduction in emissions boosts demand for this product.



The NAMA Support Project (NSP Café) supports the climate-friendly production of coffee in Costa Rica, primarily by means of technical advice and technology transfer. It also offers coffee mills access to attractive financing options that can be used to purchase eco-friendly equipment and introduce resource-efficient processes. In addition, the project offers support in accessing new markets for the sale of the innovative product climate-friendly coffee.
The project is being financed on behalf of the NAMA Facility, a fund established by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) in cooperation with the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The NAMA Facility supports particularly ambitious nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMA) worldwide.

The NSP Café is coordinated with the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE), the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), the National Coffee Institute (ICAFE) and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI). Coffee farmers and employees of coffee mills as well as their chambers and local banks are involved in implementing the measures. Experiences with effective measures will be gathered, transferred to other areas of agricultural production and made available to other sectors and countries.

The project operates with five components:

  • Coffee plantations: using sustainable agricultural practices to reduce greenhouse gases and applying fertilisers more efficiently
  • Coffee mills: energy and resource efficiency (water, waste and energy)
  • Measuring, reporting and verifying CO2 reductions on the basis of international standards
  • Selling climate-friendly coffee and creating access to new markets
  • Promoting investments in technology that will reduce emissions through incentives and credit lines


  • 5,000 coffee farmers have been trained in agricultural practices, 84 per cent of whom apply at least two practices on their plantations (target: 6,000). Low-carbon coffee is currently being grown on over 24,500 hectares (ha) of land (target: 25,000 ha).
  • 61 coffee mills measure their CO2 emissions during coffee processing each year and implement mitigation actions (target: 50 mills). The data is fed into the national climate monitoring system SINAMECC. So far, CO2 output has been reduced by 38,000 tonnes (t) (target: 340,000 t).
  • Employees at over 30 coffee mills have participated in training courses to improve their marketing and sales skills and better position their climate-friendly coffee abroad. Ten mills have managed to sell their coffee as a result of business trips to Germany and the USA. 
  • A certificate developed by ICAFE aims to provide transparent traceability of Costa Rican coffee based on economic, social, sustainability and environmental standards. 
  • Launched in July 2018 with the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), the NAMA Café credit line totals USD 10 million and is offered to coffee mills across the country at special interest rates. The goal is to help mills invest in low-carbon, environmentally-friendly technologies and practices. Several mills have already applied for loans.
  • A co-financing system for mills participating in the NSP Café has resulted in 14 investments in environmentally-friendly and low-emission technologies through subsidies amounting to USD 94,000. Grants for a further eight investments are currently being disbursed. 
  • Financial incentives for planting shade trees in coffee plantations, of USD 2.14 per verified tree, have motivated farmers to plant 9,000 trees so far (target: 75,000).

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