IDH presents learnings of the first seven landscape projects on soy in South America

A learning report with Solidaridad.

Future programs need to bridge the gap between public sector decisions at federal or state levels and their implementation at local level. The same goes for the differences between sustainability policies at company headquarters and their ‘translation’ at local level. Essential for enhancing sustainable land use is setting straightforward goals and increasing synergies between public, private and or civil society programs. Recognition by internal markets and clear business incentives for local producers are essential to make landscape management economic viable.

These are a few of the learnings that IDH and Solidaridad analyzed from 7 seven projects in Paraguay and the states of Mato Grosso and Bahia in Brazil. The two organizations jointly  tested an approach in which producers, the local governments and civil society in a region jointly designed and invested in sustainable land use to end illegal deforestation. From the seven projects – IDH and Solidaridad’s first landscape projects in South America –  next steps were determined.

Please find the entire (Portuguese) report here. The English report will be available in two weeks.

Another important learning from the project was that land use management should not be limited to cash crops. Large-scale soybean and livestock origination areas require diversification of production for local livelihoods and consumption – now a large part of the food is imported from other states. By stimulating and investing in development of food crops by small and medium sized producers, livelihoods in the area and price volatility resilience can be improved.

Daan Wensing, Landscape Director of IDH: ‘Together with the Mato Grosso government we aim to build an investable Produzir, Conservar & Incluir (PCI) program. The basic strategy is to intensify cattle ranching to free up land for responsible soy and food production. This will enable higher production whilst halting illegal deforestation. A prerequisite for success of that approach is that all land users in the region are included in the process, an approach which was first tested under these Soy Fast Track Fund III pilot projects, and upon which we build in our regional compact approach. I think the results in terms of protection and restoration are promising, but especially the numbers of rural producers participating and completing their legal registration, shows the program created incentives for local land users. However, we have also seen that there is a gap between federal and municipal level policy making and implementation. To that end we recently signed an agreement with the Mato Grosso Environmental Secretary (SEMA) to accelerate validation of CAR in deforestation hotspots. We are also working with the Programma Municipios Sustentaveis (PMS) to regulate land tenure in these same areas.’

Joyce Brando, sustainable supply chain manager at Solidaridad Brazil: ‘SFTF III sought to create conditions for different value chains, different social actors, governments, both local and state, and even federal, to work together to improve the socio-environmental performance of regions important to production chains. The territorial approach emerged globally as a way to integrate the social actions of soy processors and final consumers. This means bringing the decisions taken globally to a local scale where those decisions interact with the reality of those territories’.

The projects were implemented by local partners Abiove, ADM, Earth Innovation Institute, Instituto do Agricultores e Irrigantes de Bahia (AIBA), Instituto Centro da Vida (ICV), Instituto Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia (IPAM), Instituto Socio-Ambiental (ISA) and The Nature Conservancy. Different stakeholders were brought together to design action plans; studies into (e.g.) land titles were conducted, geospatial planning, market opportunities for family farmers and forest restoration, the latter to ensure connectivity of the landscape and wild life corridors. Amongst other things, this resulted in 700.000 hectares under sustainable land use, 500 farmers trained and 225 CAR registrations. Furthermore multi-stakeholder working groups were established to strategically plan for forest protection and restoration in the regions, as well as two platforms to monitor deforestation and other risks in soybean and cattle origination areas.

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Daniela Mariuzzo, head of IDH Brazil

Joyce Brandao, program manager Solidaridad