Sustainable Sugarcane for Sustainable Biofuels

14 December 2012 | Article

IUCN, Shell and Joint Venture (JV) Raizen recently piloted an initiative to assess conservation-related implementation and impacts of the Bonsucro standards for sugarcane-based ethanol production in Brazil.

Raizen is producing sugarcane-based ethanol primarily for Brazil’s domestic biofuels market, as well as for exports to global markets. In 2010, Raizen committed to adopting the Bonsucro standard (previously known as the Better Sugarcane Initiative, a standard to improve the sustainability of sugarcane production: http://www.bonsucro.com/) for its entire operations, destined for both domestic and external markets.

This IUCN approved project has 3 main objectives:

1) Compiling biodiversity-related information from Raizen implementation of the Bonsucro standard in existing mills and cultivated areas;

2) Using the results from this study to help in interpreting this information in terms of management changes that can result in positive impacts to biodiversity, and promoting resource-efficient agricultural practices, compared to pre-certified states;

and 3) Identification of tools and approaches to Improve Raizen’s implementation of biodiversity-related principles & criteria of the Bonsucro standard and address further implementation challanges.

IUCN has convened an independent expert group composed of Commission and NGO members to make recommendations that address barriers for effective implementation of biodiversity-related principles & criteria of the standard, and propose a monitoring & evaluation framework for assessing conservation outcomes in the medium- to long- term.

Two years on, Raizen is now progressing with implementing the Bonsucro standard and has achieved certification for at least 4 mills and parts of their sugarcane supply chains. IUCN and Shell are now interested in assessing the biodiversity-related changes as a result of this certification.