Newsletter January 2014

teammember Why have sustainability standards for agro-commodities not brought about full sustainable market transformation? Voluntary sustainability standards exist for a large range of agro-commodity supply chains, but although many can claim important successes, they have not brought us to a tipping point towards full sustainable agricultural production. In fact, are voluntary standards alone enough to achieve this? If not, what comes beyond certification? Or to be more precise, what is needed in addition to voluntary standards systems?

This first newsletter of 2014 draws lessons from the often impressive achievements of voluntary certification. We also look at innovative initiatives that we believe can substantially increase the impact of current work. We hope that our experiences will inspire you to make 2014 a more prosperous and sustainable year.

The SAI Platform Farmer Self Assessment: The Bluetooth® of Sustainable Agriculture

The Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform (SAI Platform) is the main food industry initiative supporting the development of sustainable agriculture worldwide. Its members (50+) share their experiences and knowledge in a precompetitive environment and develop various services and tools, such as the Sustainability Performance Assessment (SPA) and the Farmer Self Assessment.

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Improving Smallholder Inclusiveness of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials

The Roundtable for Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) is an international initiative to develop sustainability standards for biomaterials production. The current standard is valid for all producers of biofuels. However, it contains no specific provisions for smallholders, who risk being excluded from the sustainable biomaterials markets. In recognition of this, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), the founder and former host of RSB, appointed Aidenvironment to adapt specific elements of the RSB system to the needs of small-scale feedstock producers in developing countries.

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Building a Roadmap to Sustainability in Agro-commodity Production

Aidenvironment, NewForesight and IIED have been awarded the contract to compile a roadmap to promote large-scale implementation of socially and environmentally sustainable agro-commodity production that is also inclusive of smallholders. This research was commissioned by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), supported by the Dutch Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS), IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

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The Sustainable Growth Potential of Indonesian Smallholders

Aidenvironment has finished a diagnostic survey of Indonesian oil palm smallholders for IFC. Working in a consortium with Global Sustainability Associates and Triodos Facet, we developed the Smallholder Diagnostic Instrument and tested it among 1069 independent and tied smallholders on Sumatra and Kalimantan. This provided a wealth of data on agronomic practices, physical context, and enabling context (access to technical assistance, farmer organization, markets, inputs, infrastructure, and finance).

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IDH Palm Oil Program in Indonesia

IDH accelerates and upscales sustainable trade by building impact-oriented coalitions of front-running companies, civil society organizations, governments and other stakeholders that can deliver progress towards the Millennium Development Goals 1 (poverty reduction), 7 (safeguarding the environment) and 8 (fair and transparent trade). We have been working with IDH since it was launched. In 2013 Aidenvironment assessed the Lestari Tea business case and advised on the IDH Palm Oil Program in Indonesia.

The IDH Sustainable Palm Oil Program aims to increase the sustainable production of palm oil by improving the productivity of smallholders in existing production areas. The study we conducted comprised a mapping exercise, an assessment of the business case for farmers, traders and mills, and a blueprint for innovative business models for use in implementing the program.

The IDH Palm Oil Program in Indonesia takes three supply sheds for Palm Oil as a starting point.  Aidenvironment’s Asia office, based in Bogor, used satellite images, digital maps, and in-depth fieldwork to retrieve data on mills, forest land and smallholders, and map the physical situation on the ground. The fieldwork also generated data to feed into our financial models to calculate scenarios for making farm-level improvements. IDH will use the outcomes of our studies in preparing the program and drafting fund applications.

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Including Sustainability in Palm Oil Financial Rating

With its partners Climate Advisers and Profundo, Aidenvironment Asia has been awarded a grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation to promote the use of accurate sustainability assessments of palm oil companies by major financial institutions.

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