Collective action to respect human rights: impact fund opportunity

15th June 2022

The Bonsucro Impact Fund has published a call for proposals for grants to strengthen human rights and promote decent work in sugarcane. There are two grants available, and the application deadline is 9 September 2022.

The Bonsucro Impact Fund was launched in March 2022 to address critical sustainability challenges in the sugarcane sector. The fund supports collaborative, innovative projects that catalyse sustainable sugarcane production.

We received 17 concept notes for the first calls for proposals on innovating sustainability in smallholder sugarcane farming and addressing climate challenges like greenhouse gas emissions and improving water stewardship. The concept notes are currently with the Project Selection Committee.

Why human rights?

It is estimated that over 100 million people across the globe make their living from sugarcane cultivation and processing. For some workers and growers, sugarcane production offers a pathway to prosperity – however, this is not the case for all. Much of the world’s sugarcane is grown in countries with social and labour challenges, and tackling issues around adequate pay, gender equality and working conditions requires a systematic approach.

The employment of seasonal and migrant workers can create opportunities for unethical recruitment practices to go unchecked. With respect to wages, in many countries seasonal workers are paid per tonne of cane cut, which encourages long working hours, risking their physical health. There are also various forms of gender discrimination faced by women working in the sugarcane industry.

Our 2021-26 strategic plan has a commitment to strengthen human rights and drive decent work in the sugarcane sector. We plan to achieve our commitments through our standards system and ensuring our Grievance Mechanism is understood and used. We will also continue to address the most pressing social and labour issues through our programmes and by funding innovative projects through the Bonsucro Impact Fund.

Our CEO, Danielle Morley, said, “It’s fantastic to see the Bonsucro Impact Fund gaining momentum as we move on to the second round of grants. Addressing human rights issues in the sugarcane supply chain is so important, so I’m proud that our Fund will enable new, collaborative projects. These grants complement our work to strengthen respect for human rights, like our Code of Conduct and our Grievance Mechanism.”

Who can apply?

This specific call for proposals is focused on supporting projects that take a targeted, multi-stakeholder approach to addressing human rights and decent work issues in one or more sugarcane production areas. All projects put forward must have a convening element.

In addition, this call for proposals is aimed at supporting the implementation of projects where the bulk of activities will be carried out in the following countries:

  • Americas: Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Honduras, Dominican Republic
  • Africa: South Africa, Cameroon, Eswatini, Mauritius, Kenya
  • Asia-Pacific: India, Thailand, Pakistan

Where does the money come from?

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 Bonsucro Impact Fund. In the last financial year, the number of sellers using the Credit Trading Platform almost doubled, from 12 to 23. The number of trades also increased by 33%. Sugarcane producers in countries like Guatemala, Mauritius, Mexico, and Australia have taken advantage of the platform and sold to brands like PepsiCo, Unilever, General Mills, Barry Callebaut, and the Hershey Company.

Find out more about the Bonsucro Impact Fund and download the call for proposals in English, Spanish, or Portuguese.