In two weeks time, 100 people involved in shaping a sustainable tea sector will be meeting in London for the TEAM UP event that ETP and IDH are hosting on June 18th. With thoughtful people from throughout the supply chain (producers, traders, packers, tea brands big and small, and retailers), and from across the globe (all tea producing countries and markets) this is a unique opportunity for the trade to reflect and plan. Joining with them will be expert staff from development organisations, NGOs, certification organisations, and donors to identify how to scale up successful approaches and develop the partnerships to deal with on-going challenges.

In preparation for the meeting, we’ve been asking participants to identify the factors they think are holding back the sustainability of the sector and the changes that they would most like to see over the next five years. It’s clear that we have some transformational thinkers involved.  I know many of the ETP’s member companies and European retailers are particularly looking forward to our Producer Panel, where Alfred Njagi from KTDA, Sebastian Hobhouse from the PGI Group, Mao Limin from the Zhejiang Tea Group, Rohinton Babaycon from the S.K. Bangur Group and IDH, and Roshan Rajadurai from Kelani Valley and Talawakelle plc will be sharing their perspectives on future challenges and opportunities on sustainability.

I’m also looking forward to having my own thinking challenged by people from outside the sector and in discussing the next steps in sector-wide transformation with Sally Uren from Forum for the Future. So if there is anyone engaged in sustainability work in the tea sector, who has not yet signed up, you can see all the details and register at the TEAM UP site.

This is a particularly timely event for me, as I am currently very focused on ETP’s strategy development process to ensure that we have the right plan in place for 2014-17 and on June 19th ETP members will be meeting to discuss priorities and approaches. The more inputs we have to this process the stronger it will be. So to help shape the discussions about the next steps in improving the sustainability of the tea sector, please send your views on the following two questions to

Q1. The ETP’s vision is of a thriving tea sector that is socially just and environmentally sustainable. What do you think are the biggest threats to achieving this vision?

Q2. What changes would you most like to see happen in the tea sector over the next five years?