, Volume 86, Issue 1 Supplement, pp 127-149
Date: 09 May 2008

Assessing the Impact of Fair Trade Coffee: Towards an Integrative Framework

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This article presents an impact assessment framework that allows for the evaluation of positive and negative local-level impacts that have resulted from “responsible trade” interventions such as fair trade and ethical trade. The framework investigates impact relating to (1) livelihood impacts on primary stakeholders; (2) socio-economic impacts on communities; (3) organizational impacts; (4) environmental impacts; (5) policies and institutional impacts; and (6) future prospects. It identifies relevant local-level stakeholders and facilitates the analysis of conflicting interests. The framework was developed in the context of, and is applied in this article to, the fair trade coffee industry in northern Nicaragua. It was designed, however, so that it can be applied across commodity sectors and responsible trade initiatives. It is able to do this by accommodating for differences in the social, environmental, political and institutional contexts of different areas, and by taking into account the distinct nature of an initiative’s overall objectives, different levels of intervention, and the full range of stakeholders involved.