Monday 22 April 2024
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Italy interested in hosting the headquarters of the International Coffee Organization

“It is our intention to explore this hypothesis in detail, including with our partners within the European Union, before formalizing our offer in due course,” said in an expression of interest Stefano Gatti, Director General for Development Cooperation, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy

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MILAN – “How nice it would be for Italy to welcome the ICO, the Intergovernmental Coffee Organisation and how nice it would be for the ICO to come to the country of espresso, with a very significant industry in the sector. But there is still a lot of work to be done, nothing is defined, and even if it were to go ahead (as is desirable), it would not be before 2027.”

This is how Massimiliano Fabian, former Chair of the International Coffee Council, commented in a statement for Comunicaffè the hypothesis of Ico’s headquarters being moved to Italy.

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The proposal is contained in an expression of interest by the Italian government, which was the subject of a letter sent to the ICO a few weeks ago.

It all stems from Resolution No. 483 – approved at the most recent session (the 136th) of the International Coffee Council, which took place at the end of September in Bangalore, India.

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“The Secretariat of the International Coffee Organisation,” reads the resolution, “will need to vacate its premises at 222 Gray’s Inn Road, London, no later than June 2025, with no possibility for extension of the current lease.”

“As decided at the 58th Meeting of the FAC, the Secretariat has contacted representatives of the Government of the United Kingdom to discuss possible support and options for remaining in the country.”

The Secretariat has subsequently resolved:

“1. To request the Executive Director, as Chief Administrative Officer of the Organization:
(a) to continue the process to find suitable premises for the ICO;
(b) to continue communicating with the authorities of the host country to seek: (i) suitable premises for the ICO, either cost-free or on a discounted basis; and (ii) assistance to overcome the constraints regarding the negotiation of a new lease beyond the expiry date of the ICA.
(c) to provide Members with an assessment of the requirements for the ICO premises and of cost-saving opportunities.
(d) to report to the next meeting of the Finance and Administration Committee.
2. To review this matter at the next Session of the International Coffee Council.”

In the communication from the Italian Government, Stefano Gatti, Director General for Development Cooperation, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, states the following:

“Italy has been an active member of the ICO since its inception when the 1st International Coffee Agreement (ICA 1962) was approved at the United Nations in New York. Italy reaffirm its historical commitment to the sustainable development of the agricultural sector through international cooperation and the reinforcement of the multilateral system.

The coffee sector holds strategic importance in Italy, not only in terms of industry, trade, and consumption but also due to its implications for sustainable development. It contributes significantly to generating income and jobs, addressing poverty and root causes of migration in producing countries – many of which are Least Developed Countries in Africa.

Additionally, the sector faces vulnerability due to climate change. Considering the above factors and recognising Rome as the UN’s food and agriculture hub, hosting several prominent intergovernmental organizations, we believe that relocating the ICO Headquarters to the Italian Capital city presents an excellent opportunity to strengthen synergies with other international organizations.

It would also foster collaboration with Italian public and private institutions committed to the sustainable development of the coffee sector.

It is our intention to explore this hypothesis in detail, including with our partners within the European Union, before formalizing our offer in due course.”

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