Partnerships for biodiversity outcomes in sugarcane
As part of its sustainability initiatives, Raízen, a joint venture company between Shell and Cosan and Brazil’s largest producer of sugarcane-based ethanol, has committed to implement the Bonsucro standard (a standard to improve the sustainability of sugarcane production and processing). IUCN, Shell and Raízen are interested in assessing the biodiversity-related implications and management changes that have resulted from certification to date, and identifying opportunities for improving biodiversity-related outcomes more broadly, as the Bonsucro standard is applied across the company’s entire operations.
Consulting the experts
IUCN convened an independent expert group with relevant expertise on local wildlife, conservation planning, sustainability standards, and biodiversity indicators. Raízen’s implementation of the Bonsucro standard has been associated with several important and positive changes at the field, mill, and company management levels. The group identified some potential issues and challenges related to the implementation of the standard’s biodiversity-related principles and criteria. The overall assessment approach was informed by EcoAgriculture Partners’ 2012 publication entitled Assessing the Ecological Impacts of Agricultural Eco-Certification and Standards: A Global Review of the Science and Practice.
Recommendations put forth
Looking ahead, the expert group made several recommendations to assist Raízen in effectively achieving Bonsucro certification company-wide while enhancing the biodiversity and other environmental benefits of its sustainability efforts.
- First, the company should work with its farms and cane suppliers to pursue opportunities to substitute more hazardous agrochemicals with less hazardous ones.
- Second, ensure comprehensive EMPs with progress monitoring are in place company-wide.
- Third, the company should undertake ecologically-based conservation and restoration planning efforts at a landscape-scale to identify the most critical lands and management needs for conservation and restoration.
- Finally, to help guide and assess such conservation and restoration efforts, the company should join and support long term biodiversity monitoring and research initiatives in and around its cane supply landscapes, such as those now being led by Brazilian universities and research institutes.