Adapting to COVID-19
When COVID-19 began to spread across the world, businesses had to swiftly adapt, and Bonsucro was no exception.
Before the scale of the pandemic became apparent, the team faced a difficult decision – whether to go ahead with the annual flagship event,
Bonsucro Global Week, due to take place in Mexico in the middle of March. After careful deliberation with the Board of Directors, Bonsucro
decided to cancel the event until further notice. The members were all very understanding and supportive.
Spanning seven countries, the UK, India, Singapore, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, the team was accustomed to video meetings and quickly adapted to the new norm of working from home.
Bonsucro also supported its members and the wider sector by offering guidance on how to operate safely. This guidance was published in
English, Spanish and Portuguese. The team also created a COVID-19 resource page to share advice for the sector from reputable sources such as the Business and Human Rights Centre, Innovation Forum, and The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. During 2020, the page was visited by more than 400 unique users.
To ensure that audits and certification could continue, Bonsucro collaborated with the ISEAL Alliance and other sustainability standards.
The assurance team worked with the licenced certification bodies to help them adapt to running audits remotely and offered extensions for audits where necessary. Between March and December 2020, over 90% of audits were conducted remotely or included a remote component.
Webinars have been a great way to connect and support members. In April, 200 people from 30 countries took part in a webinar looking at
practical guidance on how to respond to the crisis.
In July, Bonsucro looked at the impact of COVID-19 on the sustainability of the sugarcane sector together with the International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists (ISSCT) and the International Sugar Organization. More than 600 people from 51 countries joined the webinar. These webinars continued to support even more industry stakeholders throughout 2020, receiving nearly 1,000 views on YouTube.
Bonsucro’s regional teams kept in touch with members and partners around the world to understand how COVID-19 was impacting different countries and the sector generally. Bonsucro will continue to adapt to the changing situation and maintain support for the sector.
Payment for environmental services in sugarcane production
Project partners: Orplana (Organization of Associations of Sugarcane Producers of Brazil), Socicana (Association of Sugarcane Growers of Guariba), Solidaridad Brazil, Geoflorestas Consultancy
Project length: 12 months Budget: $11,700USD
Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals:
Payment for environmental services (PES) are relatively new schemes that seek to offer payment to landowners to implement good agricultural practices and protect the environment.
In partnership with Earth Innovation Institute, under its Forests, Farms & Finance Initiative, Orplana (Organization of Associations of Sugarcane Producers of Brazil), Socicana (Association of Sugarcane Growers of Guariba) and Solidaridad Brazil, Bonsucro investigated the potential of PES within the sugarcane supply chain. The project also received technical assistance from Geoflorestas consultancy.
The study was split into two phases:
Phase 1: desk-based research using keywords and data analysis
Phase 2: interviews with fifteen stakeholders from private and public sectors
As a result, Bonsucro has identified three main benefits for PES initiatives:
- Adding financial value to farmers while ensuring environmental preservation
- Offering guidance on the practices for preserving land/habitats
- Enhancing livelihoods within the region that the initiative is developed
The interviews revealed some common priorities of environmental services in the public and private sectors. The top priority was biodiversity conservation, followed by forest conservation. Water resources management and carbon credits were also frequently mentioned. Some participants believed the premise that preserving forests would start a chain reaction which would positively impact all other environmental services.
The research concluded that there is no doubt that sugarcane farmers are providers of various environmental services, from carbon sequestration to biodiversity conservation.
Following on from the study, the aim is to advance the PES agenda in Brazil, specifically in the context of sugarcane.
Preventing worker exploitation in South Africa
Project partners: Stronger Together
Project length: 12 months
Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals:
Modern slavery is still common in many supply chains. One organisation that tackles worker exploitation in South Africa is Stronger Together – a multi-stakeholder business-led initiative.
As the sugarcane sector in South Africa relies heavily on temporary workers and often migrant labour, it is considered a high-risk for exploitation. Stronger Together decided to expand its work into the sugarcane sector and approached Bonsucro for support.
Bonsucro’s Regional Director for Africa and the Middle East introduced Stronger Together to local members, leading sugar companies, mills, and grower associations. Throughout the year, the team offered practical guidance and hosted seven workshops covering:
detecting, deterring, and dealing with forced labour in agri-business risk mitigation how to deal with labour challenges
The collaboration in South Africa helped to establish a valuable partnership between Bonsucro and Stronger Together, and future projects in other countries are being discussed.