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

Karla Utting
Publication Date: 
This paper presents an impact assessment framework that allows for the evaluation of various positive and negative local-level impacts that have resulted from “responsible trade” interventions, such as fair trade and ethical trade initiatives.
The framework incorporates crucial areas of impact, including: 1) livelihood impacts on primary stakeholders; 2) socio-economic impact on communities; 3) organization impact; 4) environmental impact; 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 paper 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.