Focus on landscapes takes sustainability to the next level

The Landscape Standard is an emerging tool that measures the environmental, social and economic impact of production on a landscape in order to improve sustainability.

Certification encourages producers of specific commodities and other actors in the supply chain to adopt more sustainable practices. The Landscape Standard focuses on the sustainability performance of landscapes where commodities are produced. It aims to create a tool that can measure the progress of production models and provide data-based performance results so that financial incentives can be aligned to sustainable practices.

The Landscape Standard is a shared initiative of the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance, the Rainforest Alliance and Verra, in partnership with organizations including Solidaridad.

Participants in a workshop introducing the Landscape Standard (LS) in Guatemala City.


As global demand for essential goods grows, so does the need to support sustainable production models across landscapes that can produce commodities while generating tangible benefits for people and the planet. Sergio González, of the Center for Environmental and Biodiversity Studies at Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (CEAB-UVG), says: "I think that this is the right approach. It’s fundamental to conceive of the productive activities as part of the landscape where they are generated, since we need natural resources to be able to maintain our economic activities. Environmental capital is key.”

We need natural resources to be able to maintain our economic activities. Environmental capital is key.' – Sergio Gonzalez:

At the moment there is no regulatory mechanism at the national level to ensure commodities are produced sustainably. Ian Starr, climate change specialist at the Rainforest Alliance, says: "There is a gap when it comes to structuring management spaces on a large scale. This is the reason why we are addressing this specific need.” The Landscape Standard will bring together public, private and civil society stakeholders in verifying the sustainability of an entire production area, so it is no longer necessary to audit each producer or commodity individually.


Pilot projects are under way in Latin America (Guatemala, Costa Rica and Peru) and Africa (Ghana), while potential pilots are being evaluated in Mexico, Ethiopia, Kenya and Indonesia. Sarah Lupberger, landscape manager at Verra, says: "In each country we see different opportunities: the selection criteria was to detect countries with high production of commodities that already had many sustainability efforts on track. In the specific case of Guatemala, there are many productive activities as well as many environmental and social challenges, which makes it a good place to evaluate if the standard really has an impact. We want to forge links and identify opportunities for collective achievement, so that after four years the landscapes where we are implementing these pilots will be able to sustain themselves.”

José Luis López, programme manager, palm oil and biodiversity for Solidaridad Central America, explaining the criteria for choosing a pilot area in Guatemala.

Verifiable data about the state and trajectory of sustainability in each jurisdiction will support producers in low-income countries as they develop financially attractive projects to further grow their efforts. Consumers should also be able to know whether the items they purchase have been produced in an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable way.


The project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI), which is supported by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). The Landscape Standard is developed and managed collaboratively by Verra, The Rainforest Alliance and the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Nature Conservation Research Centre (NCRC), Proforest and Solidaridad, with input from a broad range of stakeholders.

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