Martín Rojas Arboleda

I am from Colombia, there and then I studied engineering and learned about systems science. I eventually realized that sustainability could be defined as the state of the art of systems science -a delicate balance between humans and nature-. Therefore, I came to Germany to study a Master of Science in Sustainability. Today I am working as a researcher in the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ) and I am passionate about kick-starting and supporting sustainability processes in Colombia. For that, I want to begin with making the coffee system between Colombia and Germany -as an international commodity- work and support that goal I want.


A World Cafe discussion about a system change against climate change + inequalities. / Eine World Café Diskussion über einen Systemwechsel gegen Klimawandel + Ungleichheiten
Martín Rojas Arboleda, kostinjulia

I am Martín Rojas from Colombia; I like sustainability topics from a systemic perspective.

What would happen if we integrate business, social initiatives, and science to kick-start & support sustainability processes in Colombia through a new standard for coffee trade? We need your help in understanding how to change the coffee system and the major challenges around fair trade. We propose a solution and in our workshop we want you to: participate, critique and co-design that solution so –together- we can bring about profound change.

Together, we will learn about and discuss how coffee as an international commodity is economically unjust. That situation, in turn, causes systemic social issues in the producing countries: Rural livelihoods have low dignity, illiteracy is widespread, etc. The combination of both, inevitably, reinforces environmental un-sustainabilities with a large and widespread impact on land use, soil health, and biodiversity.

On the other hand, we humans will not stop drinking coffee (and caffeine). Moreover, the Fairtrade 50th anniversary is in 2019, and we do not see a relevant change in the producer's livelihoods, the un-sustainabilities or climate change. Therefore, we can say that we (the producers and the consumers) have a complex problem.

The shift from discussion to action is definitely not straight forward. The solution we propose is based on actions and direct support to coffee families and local social leaders (activists’ against mining, illiteracy, land grabbing, etc., which are being murdered). That support is enabled by a project (Hilo) aiming at implementing that solution. Everyone is welcome, but if you drink coffee, you should come.

How to connect farmers with a more dignified life? In the conventional coffee trade, farmers take all the costs and risks. Last year the price of coffee was the lowest in 14 years, but in Europe, your cappuccino still costs the same.
We want to make a radical change to the way coffee is traded. We believe that with economic security, and more dignified life, we will help build a community that is willing to engage in sustainable practices and accompany them on that path.

World Cafe discussions around these topics:
Critique| Be the devil’s advocate – why this will not work?
Needs | what is missing here?
Love | why this could work?
Contacts | who do I know which might support this project?
*Actions | what could I do to support this project?

Workshops on social-ecological transformation
Tent 7