The Swiss alpine resort of Davos hosts again more than 1,500 of the world's most influential business, political, academic and thought leaders, a 'schmoozefest' for the power elite covered by hundreds of top journalists from almost all major media.
Given that one of the World Economic Forum's stated aims is to end extreme poverty, one might be tempted to ask how many cents per cup of coffee, tea and hot chocolate consumed by the global elite meeting in Davos help improve the state of the world.
The answer is shocking: Less than US$0.01 per cup of so called "fair trade", "sustainable" or "ethical" coffee, tea and cacao consumed by WEF participants helps eradicate poverty. Are you surprised?
The minuscule value in the hot beverages consumed at the WEF that is shared as benefit with the actual producers is a reflection of the body's 'commitment' to 'Improving the State of the World' and of the indifference and/or addiction of many leaders in business and politics to economic models that perpetuate poverty and hunger, but generate yearly tens of billions of dollars in profits for enterprises in developed nations.
Everybody attending Davos knows that there is poverty and hunger in the coffee, tea and cocoa lands and in rural and urban areas where billions of people produce and create what we consume, and yet they have remained indifferent to the worst form of inequality: millions of people, who produce the food and drink consumed at the WEF in Davos -- which WEF member companies sell at enormous profit -- see their children die of poverty because of the low prices they receive for the fruits of their labours.
Coffee, tea and cacao are not an exception, but a stark example of how the 'developed' world compensates the poor who produce our favourite beverages for starting our day.
Those who attend the Davos meetings have the power to change the world, and many have the legal obligation to do so because they are public officials elected by citizens who expect and need results, not more empty promises. Yet the impact of the WEF's Improving the State of the World has so far been less than impressive.
In January 2014 Pope Francis sent a message to the Davos elite: "I ask you to ensure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it."
WEF participants could certainly push the agenda to fast track global economic development with a transparent shared value system, but have so far seemed reluctant to do so.
A new shared value system in global trade would not only improve the situation for the world's poorest, but would result in trillions of dollars in business opportunities for companies of all sizes. Eradication of poverty and the creation of a global middle class, where today poverty reigns, are the greatest untapped business opportunities.
We in CAFÉ FOR CHANGE are working to create a new shared value system in coffee, tea and cacao that will allow consumers and any company selling coffee, tea and cacao to share 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, etc., cents per cup to eradicate poverty in the communities that produce them. Our goal is to eradicate poverty and create a rural middle class in one generation.
It is unacceptable that anyone dares to call "fair trade", "sustainable" or even "ethical", a certification system that shares a 'premium' of less than one third of a cent per cup with the coffee communities that live in poverty. In so many so called "fair trade" coffee, tea and cacao communities, only one out of twenty girls graduates from secondary school. That is not only unfair, it is unethical and actually violates the right to education of the children of tens of millions of people who work for us.
To continue the business-as usual media cheerleading in Davos is dangerous for all of us. The world in which we live is a time bomb. Inequality and social segregation have become a serious political risk even in developed nations.
I ask all WEF participants to consider supporting a real and transparent shared value system to fast track the end of poverty. I ask all journalists covering the WEF to dare to ask the right questions.
The WEF cannot continue making empty claims of how "committed" they are to "Improving the State of the World" when in fact every cup of coffee, tea and cacao they drink perpetuates poverty with less than US$0.01 in benefits for the farmers who produce it.
What do you think? I look forward to your 10 cents... per cup and to your comments or questions. Fernando@cafeforchange.org