By Gabrielle Kissinger, Lexeme Consulting
Production standards and certification such as FairTrade and Rainforest Alliance coffee, Forest Stewardship Council certified lumber, and others provide a means for manufacturers and consumers to have confidence in how raw materials are produced.
Yet, production standards alone are insufficient tools to address all production risks, such as biodiversity loss, water scarcity, climate change impacts, labour issues, and community and livelihood needs in surrounding areas, among others. Companies confronting these risks recognize the impacts on business performance, and are increasingly piloting interventions beyond the ‘production unit,’ through landscape initiatives. Often, this is in conjunction with production standards and certification processes.
In Brazil, a group of smallholders united under the Cooperative Central Association of Family Farmers (COOPAFI), who make their living in mixed farming systems, but are reliant on soy as their main cash crop, obtained certification through the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) in 2013. This enabled the farmers to attract international buyers such as Unilever and the Body Shop, while at the same time maintaining the native vegetation and biodiversity in regions surrounding their farms.
To ensure that the soy certification standards were met, relevant partners including the Municipality of Capanema in Paraná, worked with the farmers to ensure continuous land management improvement that met existing Brazilian federal laws and the RTRS standard, zero-tillage systems and reduced agrochemical use, restriction on expansion of soy farms into native forests, and linking the soy to frontrunner companies seeking certified products.
This is one example of seven in the chapter, “Private sector investment in landscape approaches: the role of production standards and certification,” in the book Climate-smart landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice. In his foreward to the book, Jeffrey Sayer of James Cook University notes, “The landscape approach considers how interconnected components of the landscape can be managed to reap multiple benefits and balance commercial, social and environmental concerns.”
Private sector investment in and commercial motivation to pursue landscape approaches is not well documented. Production standards and certification appear to be an important entry point for companies to think beyond their production unit, and consider risks beyond.
Often, it is pressure from brand manufacturers and consumers that push producers to demonstrate that raw materials were produced sustainably and multiple benefits achieved. One such example is the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) that seeks to achieve zero net deforestation by 2020. It is comprised of more than 400 retail and brand manufacturers globally, with total combined sales of €2.5 trillion. Unilever aims for 50% of its agricultural raw materials to be sustainably sourced by 2015 and 100% sustainably sourced by 2020. Similarly, Nestlé, Mars, Tesco, McDonald's, Walmart and other brand manufacturers and retailers have made sustainability purchasing commitments for agricultural products.
The challenge with production standards is that while some contain criteria and indicators that require producers to go beyond the production unit to demonstrate sustainability, most provide little or no guidance to do so. Rather, the decision falls on the producer to incorporate better management practices or create partnerships beyond their production unit in order to avert risks.
Nevertheless, the case examples reviewed in the new book chapter demonstrate a willingness by companies and their civil society or government partners to define project parameters that seek integrated landscape management.
While private sector engagement in integrated landscape initiatives appears to be increasing, more assessment of the long-term benefits beyond the production unit and concession-scale is needed and also to determine whether companies stick to the commitments and invest over the long-term. Similarly, there is a need for more evidence of effective coordination between government and private sector actors to support long-term commitment to landscape initiatives.
More understanding is also needed of how certification bodies are incorporating a landscape lens into criteria and indicators for certification and measuring that performance over landscape spatial and temporal scales. This is particularly important for fast-expanding commodities such as oil palm, sugarcane, and soy, all of which can place strong pressures on land and water resources.
Source: This blog is based on Chapter 19: Private sector investment in landscape approaches: the role of production standards and certification of the new book: Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice
Citation: Kissinger, G., Moroge, M., & Noponen, M. (2015). Private sector investment in landscape approaches: the role of production standards and certification. In Minang, P.A., van Noordwijk, M., Freeman, O. E., Mbow, C., de Leeuw, J., & Catacutan, D. (Eds.) Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice, 277-293. Nairobi, Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
About the author
Gabrielle has worked for 20 years at the interface between government policy, markets and land use pressures, from local to national and international scales, and with a range of comapnies, investors, major donors and NGOs. Consulting services and research focus on reducing GHG emissions from land-use in the agriculture and forestry sectors, policy and government affairs, innovative financing for sustainable land management and private sector engagement. Learn more