Sustainability: Lavazza’s first documentary is a story about women, rebirth and hope


NEW YORK, June 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Lavazza has chosen World Environment Day (June 5th) for the launch on streaming platform Amazon Prime Video, initially in Italy, the US and the UK, of the docufilm “Coffee Defenders, a Path from Coca to Coffee”, directed by Oscar Ruiz Navia, one of the best-known voices in contemporary Colombian cinema.

The documentary tells the true story of Johana, a young Colombian woman who lost everything during the armed conflict with the FARC guerrillas, but managed to take back control of her own life and that of her six children. She was determined to continue to live in her community in the fertile and unspoilt land of the Meta coffee growing region in the foothills of the Andes, where in 2013 the Colombian government gave farming families like Johana’s the land previously used to grow illegal crops.

Driven by hope and an unshakeable belief in a better future, Johana was reborn through her work for her newly thriving coffee farm and tells a story of the emancipation of women and courage. And in fact, the symbol of her rebirth is a coffee plant, which the film’s protagonist takes with her on the journey from her home to Costa Rica, where it will be preserved in the Cartago Agricultural Centre. Johana is accompanied on her journey by Alexandra Roca, a reporter who has written with great sensitivity about various issues affecting more than 14 countries worldwide, ranging from women’s rights to movements supporting indigenous communities. After returning to Colombia to document the country’s recovery after the armed conflict, she helps Johana tell her own story of difficulties and hope. Step by step, their journey takes the film’s two protagonists through scenes of incredible natural beauty in South America, listening to numerous eyewitness testimonies on a path of rebirth and transition from war to peace.

“In that period people grew coca,” remembers our protagonist Johana“I was afraid, but in the end, I said to myself “I’m going back, because this is my home and I can’t abandon it. It doesn’t matter if they want to kill me, let them, but I have to go back home.”

The Lavazza Foundation has been working in the Meta region, Johana’s homeland, since 2015, with a sustainable development programme that has improved the social and economic conditions of over one hundred farming families, including our protagonist’s, helping them bring the coffee plantations back to life by planting over one million coffee bushes and training them to use of good farming practices, including techniques to fight the effects of climate change. They are important results for these small communities. Productivity per hectare has risen twofold and the production of high quality coffee has been encouraged and certified by the NGO Rainforest Alliance, an international organization that guarantees the socio-environmental sustainability of agricultural production; in addition, small farms have been assisted in planting about 13,000 fruit trees, useful to give farmers a source of income complementary to that from coffee, in order both to increase revenue and to support the food security of families.

The programme underway in the Meta region has also been developed with a special focus on promoting women’s rights, remembering that women provide up to 70% of the workforce involved in coffee growing, but that farms have women managers in only 25% of cases.

This is one example of the 24 projects promoted so far by the Lavazza Foundation, which was established in 2004 and has a presence today in 17 countries, across 3 continents, with over 97,000 beneficiaries.

For almost twenty years, the Lavazza Foundation has been playing an active role in coffee-producing countries with sustainable development programmes, working in close collaboration with coffee growers and inspired by the sense of responsibility that permeates Lavazza’s approach to the communities and areas in which it operates,” said Mario CeruttiChief Institutional Relations & Sustainability Officer at Lavazza. “The documentary tells one of many stories about the protagonists of our projects, expressed in contemporary language with the help of an outstanding partner like Amazon, and all in the spirit of Goal Zero – Promote the Message, the Sustainable Development Goal that we have added to the 17 Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda, with the aim of engaging people in a debate on sustainability.”

In fact, in the process of developing the brand’s sustainability strategy and integrating it increasingly in business processes, Lavazza has decided to work on the basis of the guidelines set out in the internationally recognised United Nations Global Compact, undertaking to respect its underlying principles as defined in the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

In this process, the Company has identified the four priority sustainability pillars for people and businesses, to which it has pledged its commitment in coming years and which are all contained in “Coffee Defenders, a Path from Coca to Coffee”: Goal 5 – Gender Equality, Goal 8 – Economic Growth, Goal 12 – Sustainable Consumption and Production, Goal 13 – Climate Change. The first two goals, in particular, are central to the Lavazza Foundation programme developed in Meta and are referred to in the docu-film, with gender equality and the emancipation of women embodied by Johana, one of the many women who play a key role in Colombia’s farming community, and economic growth represented by the improvement of social and economic conditions for the communities affected by guerilla warfare. The four priority Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda form part of the Sustainability Manifesto, the programmatic statement of Lavazza Group’s corporate sustainability strategy, which was recently published together with the fifth edition of the Sustainability Report, “A Goal in every cup”.

“Coffee Defenders, a path from coca to coffee” forms part of Lavazza’s “Coffee Defenders” project, an initiative that draws inspiration from the stories of coffee producers who have benefited from the projects promoted by the Foundation and aims to raise awareness about sustainability in the “coffee community”, made up of people who love an agricultural product that is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Digital communication has an increasingly strategic importance for Lavazza thanks to the numerous opportunities it offers us to bring new young audiences closer through contemporary and engaging forms of storytelling,” said Lorenzo Giorda, Global Head of Digital Marketing at Lavazza“This project will become a strand of communication and positioning for the company and we believe that the docufilm is an important asset to tell through a different, visual, authentic and universal language the theme of sustainability, which has been an integrated part of our business for many years and which will characterize us from now on. In the future, in fact, the documentary will live both digitally and physically in other places because it is not only an entertainment product but a vehicle of strong and contemporary messages.

“Coffee Defenders, a Path from Coca to Coffee”: the words of the protagonists 

Oscar Ruiz Navia, director: “I think this film represents a special project, one that I have been asked to work on because of my experience as a documentary and fiction director, which is why I was happy from the outset to accept this challenge. During shooting, I learned so much about this country’s history by listening to the testimony of so many people. For this reason, I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of ‘Coffee Defenders, a path from coca to coffee.'”

Alexandra Roca, filmmaker: “This project represents many things, but I would say that the main meaning it carries is that change comes from within, and Johana has been a true example in that regard. I have learned many lessons from her because of her resilience and perseverance. Her surviving skills have turned her into an independent and clever woman. That, to me, is what sticks out most from this film and it’s true meaning.”



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