Soy production has grown substantially in recent years, as both a vital protein source and feed for livestock. As one of the major producers of soy, with nearly 25% of the world’s cultivated land in the crop, Brazil is a driving force in the global value chain. And because of this expansion, augmented attention on preserving natural habitats and ecosystem services has become imperative. One approach used to address this issue across spatial scales is through standardized guidelines on economic, social, and environmental aspects throughout the soybean production chain. Multiple stakeholders including suppliers, producers, buyers, exporters, and processors need to mobilize to align these three pillars of sustainability.
A new report by the Nature Conservancy analyses these social and environmental implications of soybean production. It presents case studies to illustrate the current activity and potential opportunities for social and environmental responsibility, particularly in terms of certifications of sustainability. The Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) is offered as one example, where certification entails preserving high conservation value areas, implementing best management practices, and respecting land ownership systems in place, and smallholder farmers can achieve group certifications. Other efforts and labels examined include ProTerra, EcoSocial Seal, and the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) of Imaflora and Rainforest Alliance. These certifications are attempts to achieve economic and environmental benefits, while continuing to produce an important agricultural commodity.
As discussed previously on the Landscapes Blog, one of the important elements in the world of standards is effective monitoring and evaluation systems. The report on sustainable soy introduces the Rural Environmental Registry in Brazil, a georeferenced tool for planning land use, which can be used to monitor and evaluate the efficacy of farm interventions and policies. Already in use in Mato Grasso, the tool offers an opportunity for coordination at a landscape scale, and a better understanding of the implications on the ground.
Read the full report online.