First Bonsucro Impact Fund grants awarded for human rights projects

11th May 2023

The first large grants have been awarded to two projects through the Bonsucro Impact Fund (BIF) under the human rights call. These projects address some of the most critical issues facing the sugarcane sector, specifically human rights and decent work.

The successful projects are:

  • Human Rights Due Diligence Toolkit for sugarcane mills – Brazil (northeast and southeast)
  • Using digital tools and multi-stakeholder engagement to improve human rights due diligence and promote migrant workers’ rights – India and Thailand

human rights due diligence toolkit

Human Rights Due Diligence Toolkit for sugarcane mills – Brazil (northeast and southeast)

Lead member applicant: Proforest Brazil

Co-applicants: Imaflora, Nestlé, General MillsBarry Callebaut

Through this project, Proforest and its partners will develop guidelines and practical tools for the interpretation of the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGPs) and the OECD guidelines for the Brazilian sugarcane sector. This will build on existing work the partners have undertaken.

This project will develop a human rights due diligence (HRDD) toolkit for sugar and tools for HRDD implementation on the ground focused on the Brazilian sector, which will help better monitor and strengthen respect for human rights in the sugarcane supply chain. Additionally, it will also build capacity in the sector, with training sessions for mills, producers, and service providers and a pilot of the guidance and tools developed. This builds on work that Proforest and Imaflora have done in partnership with Nestle on their Human rights framework and roadmap as well as the responsible sourcing toolkits produced for soy, palm oil and beef by Proforest.

This project will apply a systemic approach that connects to the root causes of any human rights challenges. A HRDD mechanism provides the opportunity for mills to identify not just how and when they need to take direct action, but also to engage in at-scale initiatives with others to address systemic human rights issues. The mills and supply chain companies themselves will be able to identify actions to address root causes as part of their HRDD.


Using digital tools and multi-stakeholder engagement to improve human rights due diligence and promote migrant workers’ rights – India and Thailand

Lead member applicant: Unilever

Co-applicants: International Organization for Migration (IOM), Coca Cola, Diginex

The project aims to address the high prevalence of forced labour and gaps in respecting migrant workers’ rights, as well as gender discrimination such as, wage gaps, unequal representation, lack of access to social security, and incidents of sexual harassment, that affect men and women, internal and international migrant workers in the sugar value chain.

This initiative uses an innovative mobile app to collect and capture feedback and claims on any human rights issues. Through multi-stakeholder consultations, the existing questionnaire will be adapted for sugarcane workers. The app will be rolled out in various milling operations in both India and Thailand, aiming to reach 250 migrant sugarcane workers in each location. The data collected through the app will support the development of action plans for mills and associated end-users to rectify identified challenges, as well as contribute to the Agricultural Migrant Workers HRDD Engagement Model (Thailand).

This process will also be supported by the application of United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s participatory rural appraisal approach which empowers farmers to create the information base they need for participatory planning and action. This will lead to the development of an operational worker engagement model that is responsive to the needs of rural and vulnerable populations.

These projects encapsulate the spirit of the Bonsucro Impact Fund through their commitment to collective action, and feature a diverse consortium of actors across the sugarcane supply chain. The involvement of partners across the supply chain will bolster the implementation of these approaches.

Both projects were selected through a competitive two stage process and selected by the Project Selection Committee – made up of an independent expert Chair, three representatives from the Members’ Council and two Bonsucro secretariat staff. Some of the grantees have expressed their pride at being awarded a grant under the Impact Fund.

“We are very pleased to have been awarded this opportunity to expand our work with human rights in Brazil and hopefully set the foundations for the expansion of the methodology to other regions, both within Brazil and beyond.

Vulnerable actors, such as sugarcane workers, local communities and women, will be positively impacted by improvements to their working and employment conditions and respect for their rights as a result of better mechanisms to identify and address negative human rights impacts and embedded good practices into mills’ processes/systems.”

Luana Mischiatti, Senior Project Manager, Proforest

“Respect for human rights underpins all of Unilever’s Compass goals, including our cane sugar value chain which connects us with hundreds of thousands of people. Through strengthened human rights due diligence, we want to ensure that the rights of these individuals, and their communities are respected and promoted.

Collaboration is key to driving positive impact, which is why we are partnering with Coca-Cola, IOM and Diginex to use impact led technology, multi- stakeholder engagement and direct engagement models with circa 500 vulnerable migrant workers.

The project is supported through the Bonsucro Impact Fund, and is expected to directly impact over 1000 workers while instilling systemic change in the sugarcane industry by directly engaging policy makers”.

Eric Soubeiran, Vice President of Business Operations and Managing Director of Unilever’s Climate and Nature Fund

The Bonsucro Impact Fund makes grants using income from the sale of Bonsucro Credits. All trades are charged a transaction fee, around 50% of which is invested into the Fund which is designed to support members and their partners to progress key areas of strategic importance to Bonsucro and the production of sustainable sugarcane.

Speaking after the announcement, Duncan Rhind said “Bonsucro is pleased to support innovative projects to improve working conditions and human rights of sugarcane workers. We look forward to the results these projects will produce.

We will regularly share news from the projects supported by the BIF, so keep an eye on our news page and our social media channels.

bonsucro impact fundFor any further information about the Bonsucro Impact Fund, please contact Sophie O’Loghlen-Vidot, our Impact Funding Manager on


We currently have two calls for proposals open, submit your concepts by 26 May 2023. For more information visit the Bonsucro Impact Fund page.