Sugarcane & the SDGS: A Q&A with Fundazucar’s Tomás Regalado

13th February 2018

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How the sustainability work of Bonsucro’s membership can contribute towards the SDGs

Sugarcane-based agriculture and industry has significant potential to create shared value for the people, communities, businesses, economies and ecosystems of cane-growing origins, and in doing so, can support progress towards the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In January, Tomás Regalado, President of the Salvadorian non-profit organisation Fundazucar, was the keynote speaker at Bonsucro Week 2018 conference in Nicaragua. Speaking about the importance of the SDGs as global guidelines for sustainable growth and development, Mr. Regalado explained to the Bonsucro Week audience how the global sugarcane sector can play a key role in fulfilling these goals and assuring long-term sustainability success.

The SDGs are relevant for the sugarcane sector because our sector’s far reaching scale and scope can have a truly massive impact on the attainment of these goals. Sustainability is sometimes seen as a governmental responsibility; the SDG’s create a valuable platform that encourages public–private cooperation in the attainment of the SDG’s.” Mr. Regalado points out how Bonsucro’s diverse membership is a valuable asset and can be at the vanguard of helping meet these goals: “Bonsucro can play a key role in organising, encouraging and helping create measurement tools for our sector to align with the SDG’s.”

In alluding to practical examples, Mr. Regalado describes how Fundazucar and the Salvadoran sugar industry helped, perhaps unwittingly, the attainment of the SDG’s. “Since we noticed that our projects were having a positive impact on the SDG’s we ran a comparative exercise which compared our projects, inputs and goals, and how they are aligned and help add to the accomplishment of the SDG’s.”

Despite the efforts of using the SDGs as an attempt to align government and business agendas, as well as the financial sector, Mr. Regalado comments on how there is still a lot of work ahead so that the sugarcane sector can incur such sustainability benefits. “At present, the sugarcane sector is not ready to benefit from this potential synergy. We still have lots to learn about the SDG’s themselves and how we can be a part of them, as well as understanding how we can have a greater impact via multi sector cooperation and public-private partnerships with the SDG’s in mind.”

As part of its Monitoring and Evaluation programme, Bonsucro is currently working on revised Theory of Change, which has, at its core, the ultimate objective of Bonsucro as a platform for change to drive improvement in the economic, social, and environmental performance of sugarcane farmers and millers around the world, contributing to the achievement of the SDGs.

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.