Growth in upstream involvement in sustainability schemes depends on these schemes delivering more value to producers and looking at ways to practically reduce the costs of participation.
The business case for joining a sustainability programme or becoming certified is not always clear, especially if you're a small farmer or enterprise. The costs of certification can be high – there's the direct cost of the audit as well as the necessary investments in infrastructure, training and management systems.
These costs need to be weighed up against the financial benefits that standards and similar systems offer. Price premiums, improved market access and reduced production costs are some of the most common benefits. However, for many producers these benefits are not always fully realised, which can make them question whether participation makes sense for their business.
Sustainability systems recognise this challenge, and a number of ISEAL members and partners are exploring how they can deliver more value to producers, either through reducing the cost of participation or increasing the market value of certification. Innovations include:
- customising their offer and services to better meet producer needs
- strengthening the benefits of programmes, standards and certification through creating additional value streams ranging from payment for environmental services to the packaging of data
- building partnerships with traders and financial service providers to improve access to credit
- strengthening system requirements around living income and wage
- experimenting with sector alignment that promotes interoperability across sustainability tools.