Land clearing for agriculture production is one of the biggest drivers of tropical deforestation today. Negative impacts associated with commodity-driven deforestation include loss of biodiversity, high levels of greenhouse gas emissions and the reduction of carbon storage sinks. Deforestation also degrades soil, uproots indigenous communities and compromises fresh water sources.
Despite this, agriculture is a vital economic backbone for developing nations and is the single largest employer in the world, providing livelihoods for 40 per cent of today’s global population. It is the largest source of income and jobs for poor rural households.
Increasing farm yields, access to finance and return on labour, while better managing natural resources with effective policy, will be key to enabling ‘good growth’ and reducing the need for further forest encroachment.
The Good Growth Solution
The Good Growth Partnership provides technical support to national and sub-national governments so that they can overhaul the way commodities are produced, creating sector wide and lasting change. This involves convening diverse stakeholders around a common vision and an agenda for action. Essentially our approach enables governments to fortify their support to farmers, and to reform laws as well as enforcement systems.
Through the Partnership we strengthen our efforts to cultivate sustainable production by aligning the national development plans and aspirations of producing countries with growing global demand for sustainable goods and investment.
Our Goals at a Glance
Contact global project manager Pascale Bonzom to learn more about how the
Good Growth Partnership is cultivating sustainability in commodity supply chains.
Number of hectares of HCV and HCS forest areas in commodity producing landscapes protected through zoning, or similar legal protections enabled by the Partnership.
Tons of CO2 emissions avoided due to gazettement and other related land use and protection strategies developed or supported by the Partnership.
Total number of government-led action plans for the production of sustainable commodities — 2 national, 4 sub-national and 3 district-level — facilitated and enabled by the Partnership.
Number of new policy and regulation reforms that support sustainable production and land use developed with the technical and multi-stakeholder convening power of the Partnership.
Number of national and regional strategies, designed with technical support from the Partnership, to systemically train small-scale farmers en mass.
Number of farmers trained in sustainable agricultural practices via Good Growth Partnership pilot projects.
Our Work in Country
Supporting Sustainable Soy Production in Brazil
Today, Brazil produces about one-third of the global soy supply and earns more from soybean exports than from any other commodity. Although soybean production is generating much-needed revenue for the Brazilian economy, it is also threatening vast ecoregions considered to be among the most biodiverse in the world.
Over the past decade Brazil has witnessed a new agricultural frontier open up in an area of the Cerrado known as the Matopiba. This frontier threatens the remaining natural vegetation, which once covered an area half the size of Europe. It includes the headwaters of three South American major river basins (Amazon, São Francisco and Plata) and is home to several indigenous territories and communities who wholly depend on the biome’s natural resources for their survival.
The Good Growth Solution
To reduce environmental threats in the agricultural frontier and to promote sustainable soy production, the Good Growth Partnership — in collaboration with the Brazilian Foundation for Sustainable Development (FBDS) and the Brazilian Rural Society (Sociedade Rural Brasileira) — is working with the government of Brazil to identify and encourage soy cultivation in already deforested or degraded lands.
Other aspects of the project include:
- Facilitating dialogue between the government, academia, farmers, civil society and the private sector to define a sustainable vision for the development of the Matopiba region.
- Providing technical support to the government for the creation and implementation of safeguards in the Matopiba that protect and enhance land use rights for traditional communities.
- Advocating for and encouraging increased compliance with Brazil’s Forest Code, a law requiring landowners to maintain 35 to 80 percent of native vegetation on their property.
- Implementing a farmer support system that provides and disseminates training on soil management as well as low carbon agricultural practices such as zero tillage and nitrogen fixation among other practices.
- Trialing innovative techniques and practices for the restoration of degraded and deforested land.
Balancing Growth with Sustainability in Indonesia’s Palm Oil Sector
Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil. The country produces more than 30 million tons of palm oil per year, which is found in about half of all packaged products that are sold in supermarkets worldwide. In recent decades the sector has become vital to the country’s economy, providing employment and economic opportunities to well over 2 million people and generating over $20 billion in export revenue.
However, unsustainable palm oil production is contributing to rapid tropical forest destruction and climate change. A significant portion of Indonesia’s forest loss in recent years can be attributed to illegal logging and the expansion of oil palm plantations.
The Good Growth Solution
The Good Growth Partnership is working to sustainably boost small-scale farmer productivity and market competitiveness through efforts to enhance good agricultural practices and address gaps in policies which inhibit best practice.
The Partnership is also supporting the government-led Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil Platform (FoKSBI). This national platform, facilitated by the UNDP’s Green Commodities Programme, is working to coordinate and enhance existing initiatives focused on the sustainability of palm oil. After agreeing on a national action plan for sustainable palm oil, FoKSBI’s multi-stakeholder participants are working to legalize the plan, which defines and enables wide-scale solutions and investment for the production of sustainable Indonesian palm oil.
Additional key areas of work include:
- Launching and facilitating provincial platforms in three major producing provinces — North Sumatra, Riau, and West Kalimantan — all of which coordinate with the Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil Platform, FoKSBI.
- Providing technical support to the government to implement nationally defined high conservation value laws that reflect the demands of the global market.
- Mapping and land use planning in vulnerable landscapes.
- Aligning and piloting sustainability certification schemes.
- Facilitating public-private partnerships to share knowledge and encourage investment.
Convening the Chaco for Greener Pastures in Paraguay
Paraguay’s agricultural sector employs almost half the nation and is responsible for nearly 90 percent of registered exports. Beef is among the most important agricultural commodities this landlocked nation has to offer.
In the coming years, Paraguay is poised to become one of the largest beef exporters in the world. This is partly due to a joint plan between the government, national producers and traders to ramp-up production.
While an increase in beef production will bring great economic benefits to the country, where poverty remains to be a challenge, there are grave concerns for the environment if the industry’s growth is not managed sustainably. Over the last 15 years, Paraguay lost a greater share of its forest than almost any other country on Earth. This land clearing is often driven by the nation’s agricultural sector, including the beef industry.
The Good Growth Solution
The plan to increase Paraguay’s beef exports relies largely on further land clearing in the Chaco, a vast semi-arid region encompassing the entire Western half of the country. However, the Good Growth Partnership is working to intensify production in a sustainable manner, through good agricultural practices, protection of high conservation value areas and respect to indigenous communities and their way of life. This would create an opportunity to position Paraguay as an international leader in premium sustainable beef.
The Good Growth Partnership is working with Paraguay’s Environment Secretariat (SEAM) to convene stakeholders throughout the beef sector to intensify production sustainably. One of the major outcomes of this work will be the launch of a government-led regional beef platform in the Chaco. This platform will facilitate multi-stakeholder input into a regional beef action plan which will address barriers to use good agricultural practices, planning for better land use, supply chain transparency and access to sustainable finance.
Other Good Growth Partnership efforts to reduce deforestation
in Paraguay’s beef sector include:
- Contributing to public awareness of the Chaco region’s productive and aesthetic values through an online website and outreach efforts in coordination with the National University of Asuncion.
- Supporting efforts to drive commodity expansion, where necessary, away from forested and important conservation areas. This includes revision of key rules and national definitions for land-use planning, conservation areas, zoning and land conversion.
- Conducting an economic analysis of the environmental costs and benefits of degraded land-use, which will help to gauge the magnitude of required incentives and opportunities to attract industry support.
- Testing a land-use change monitoring system to identify illegal crop and grazing land expansion in the Chaco.
- Assessing the training needs of farmers to distribute region-wide technical assistance to small, medium and large-scale producers through government channels and services.
Setting Liberia’s Palm Oil Potential on a Sustainable Path
Touted as the next “palm oil frontier,” Liberia boasts fertile soil, a tropical climate, uncultivated land and high levels of rainfall. Projected to provide thousands of jobs for a nation with over one million people living in extreme poverty, palm oil promises to offer Liberia a welcome economic break. But there is a catch.
Without effective management and oversight of the burgeoning palm oil industry, Liberia risks destroying vast primary forests along with critical natural resources and the benefits they provide to the communities who depend on them.
Furthermore without genuine consultation, involvement and consideration for local communities who live and survive on areas designated for palm oil development, a climate of conflict and exploitation could ensue. An estimated 70 percent of Liberians depend on agriculture for their livelihoods and many are not convinced that the promised economic growth of the palm oil sector will benefit them. The United Nations has identified land and property conflict in Liberia as a serious threat to the country’s peace and development.
The Good Growth Solution
Technical support for the Oil Palm Technical Working Group (OPTWG) is central to the Good Growth Partnership’s efforts in Liberia. This existing national platform will be strengthened with neutral facilitation and expanded with cross-sectoral membership especially from local communities and farmers. Currently the Ministry of Agriculture leads the national platform with the expectation that interministerial cooperation and participation will be increased. Ultimately, decisions and actions agreed on within the working groups will be included in a National Oil Palm Strategy and Action Plan.
Additional Good Growth Partnership efforts to reduce
deforestation in Liberia’s palm oil sector include:
- Supporting the government to establish a landscape level forum, encompassing the counties of Bomi, Gbarpolu, Bong and Grand Cape Mount, to ensure that the concerns and considerations of local communities are represented in national decision making, land use conflicts are addressed and conservation agreements are made.
- Defining areas of high conservation value and high carbon stock to direct development toward locations of lower environmental value.
- Developing guidance and hosting workshops to build the capacity of environment protection officials to adequately review plantation development proposals.
- Completing the national interpretation of RSPO principles and criteria, which, among other benefits, will create opportunities for smallholders to become RSPO certified.
- Testing a land use monitoring system to identify illegal crop expansion and the extent that plantations negatively impact nearby ecosystems and forests.
- Modeling and trialing incentives for effective long-term conservation agreements with local communities.
- Facilitating public awareness campaigns about which land is under protection for conservation and which areas are appropriate for development.