Bonsucro and Fairtrade collaborate to maximise their impact in sugarcane

13th December 2019

From February 2017 to April 2019 Bonsucro and Fairtrade collaborated for the first time in a project supported by SECO through the ISEAL Innovations Fund called: Maximising Impact through Collaboration of Sustainability Standards in the Sugarcane Sector.

Fairtrade Mauritius

Consumers are increasingly asking for sustainable and third-party certified sugar. As more producers strive to produce responsibly, there is a growing intersection of Fairtrade and Bonsucro certified origins. This project presented an opportunity to test collaboration between Bonsucro and Fairtrade in regions where both certifications are present. As part of the ISEAL Innovation Fund the project went beyond benchmarking of standards to test if a single market offering could benefit smallholders in accessing and competing in ever globalising markets.

In phase one and two, a benchmark of the Fairtrade and Bonsucro Standards was undertaken to determine the degree of overlap between the two standards and scheme owners. Workshops were held with the representatives of the sugarcane sector in two origins: Mauritius and Belize. An additional information session on the collaboration was held at Bonsucro Global Week 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand. The workshops revealed the value and challenges of the individual standards, and the power of being able to comply with both standards for producers and for buyers.

As part of the Bonsucro and Fairtrade collaboration the concerns that were raised by the local industries predominantly centred around improving and reducing the audit burden for smallholders. In the light of low returns that farmers are receiving from their sugarcane crop, farmers and the sector requested that Fairtrade and Bonsucro investigate if and how joint audits could reduce the costs of compliance and the audit burden, where dual certification maybe required. Finalizing this project in terms of the commitments to its partners at origin, Bonsucro and Fairtrade are eager to continue investigating options that respond to the sustainability needs and concerns that our members have expressed to us. We will continue to strive to make our standards beneficial and implementable.

“Partnership is an important philosophy for Bonsucro. We believe that great change happens through partnerships with exceptional organisations like Fairtrade. Collaborating with Fairtrade has been a valuable experience for Bonsucro. By visiting Fairtrade certified farms, we have seen the positive impact that implementing sustainability standards over the long term can have for smallholder farmers.”

– Danielle Morley, CEO, Bonsucro Ltd

“Fairtrade believes that collaboration is an important tool in addressing sustainability challenges across supply chains. The sugar sector, where both Fairtrade and Bonsucro standards are operating, is demanding more alignment between both our schemes. This project has shown that, in many aspects, Fairtrade and Bonsucro standards are complementary. Fairtrade is committed to deepening our collaboration with Bonsucro in response to the sectors’ and farmers’ requests for a reduction of compliance efforts, which will enable them to reap more benefits from their sustainability efforts.”

– Dario Soto Abril, CEO, Fairtrade International


Get involved

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This project was possible thanks to a grant from the ISEAL Alliance Innovations Fund, which is supported by:

Bonsucro & Renovabio: Exploring synergies and advancing GHG reduction in Brazil

Project partners: Earth innovation Institute and Agroicone
Project length: 12 months Budget: $22,347,79
Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals:

RenovaBio is a Brazilian biofuel policy designed to decrease Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions by 10% by 2029 [compared to 2018], in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change. It aims to do this by incentivising fuel distributors to blend more biofuels into their products. RenovaBio has established a certification scheme for biofuel, towards which Brazilian sugarcane mills are working, that will enable them to trade decarbonisation credits on the Brazilian stock exchange.

Bonsucro continuously seeks to grow awareness and adoption of its standard. In Brazil, this can be achieved by aligning its framework with RenovaBio to optimise costs and time for mills. In 2019, Bonsucro received a grant of US $22,000 from the Earth Innovation Institute to provide a common understanding of how RenovaBio works and how other regions might benefit from this approach.

Bonsucro addressed the topic at Bonsucro Global Week in Bangkok in March 2019, and through three stakeholder forums in Brazil. The Bonsucro team also commissioned a technical comparison study, which enabled the organisation to understand how best to align with RenovaBio’s requirements.

The study has been shared with key stakeholders in Brazil and the project is now complete. Bonsucro is working to incorporate the study’s findings and recommendations through its ongoing Production Standard Revision process.

By aligning opportunities of optimisation, joint work and integration with the Brazilian Government and reflecting it in the Bonsucro Standard, Bonsucro can help to ensure that more producers adopt sustainability standards like Bonsucro.