South America

South America is one of the regions in the world that is feeding a growing global population. Our ambition in the region is to transform sectors to make them sustainable. This requires alignment from value chain actors, and implementation of practical innovations in the field and at the national level.
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Where We Work

We work across Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, and Peru. We have a growing team of experts who develop innovative solutions to improve our partners’ sustainability performance, focusing on nine commodities sectors: Soy, Palm Oil, Sugarcane, Coffee, Cocoa, Tea and Yerba Mate, Livestock (Beef and Dairy), Gold and Fruit and Vegetables (Bananas and Orange).

Commodities

789,106

hectares under sustainable management

22

civil society organizations trained or supported in decision making and dialogue

26,613

farmers, miners, and workers trained to adopt good practices

Challenges

Value chain inequities

Weaknesses in value chains prevent the region and its producers from reaching their full potential in terms of efficiency, competitiveness, inclusivity and climate mitigation. By addressing these issues, we contribute to more sustainable production and markets.

South America harbors the highest percentage of forest cover on the planet and is key for climate action. Livestock, soy, palm oil, and coffee are among the key deforestation drivers in the region. We strongly believe that environmental sustainability, and a reduction in forest and ecosystems pressure, will not be delivered if producers’ livelihoods are affected negatively and market players are not engaged with this agenda. 

Most informal workers work excessively, in unsafe conditions and are not paid a living wage. The more rigid the rules are to move from informal to formal work, the greater is the risk of exploitation that  small artisanal miners, particularly women, face.

Though corporate commitments take place, only a few companies make concrete actions to drive real progress on the ground. Without an adequate economic recognition from the market for the environmental and social value generated by sustainable production, producers’ investments in sustainable practices will run short.

Farmers don’t access finance for transforming conventional production or degraded land to sustainable or responsible. Also, access to finance becomes critically important for programmes that require the deployment of a compensation incentive that will address the issue of deforestation.

Solutions

Integrated market solutions

We deliver practical solutions that result in efficient supply chains that optimize present and future resources. Our ambition is that these practical solutions are scaled by others, enabling the transformation of commodity sectors.

As farmers have rights, in most countries in South America, to legally convert forest land to expand their production, our role is to prove with them that this conversion is not necessary. With our focus on producing ‘more with less’, Solidaridad aims to connect the issue of deforestation with economic and social viability. We develop production models that are profitable, improve the resilience of producers to climate change, capture carbon, avoid deforestation and promote landscape restoration in critical biomes such as the Amazon, Cerrado, Chaco and Orinoquía.

We ensure that technical assistance is effective, so that producers can increase or maintain their productivity as a result of implementing sustainable or responsible practices. To this end, we develop digital solutions that optimize the daily work of field officers, provide insight on producers’ gaps and progress, and provide online training for trainers and producers.

We provide financial institutions business models and data from the field to mitigate credit risk from producers and unlock finance for transforming conventional production, or degraded land, to sustainable, responsible or climate-smart.

We enable public-private dialogue to reach commitments and implement policies that create conditions and incentives for producers to adopt sustainable practices. We convene stakeholders, provide field data to set joint agendas, design financing mechanisms and sustainability policies, and improve the implementation of legal frameworks.

We work with national and global brands to increase their purchase of sustainable production, and to make field investments to leverage the sustainable performance of their supply chains. We provide purchasing guides and traceability mechanisms, develop continual improvement programs, and design reward schemes for environmental services.

We pilot new approaches and methodologies in the field of circular economy, social inclusion of women and young people, and value distribution. This helps to ensure that producers cover their costs, earn at least a living income, and offer living wages to their workers.

Achievements

Decreasing emissions, increasing productivity

Focused on landscape restoration and low-carbon agriculture, we reinforced engagement with companies and smallholder farmers in 2019. In Brazil, some of our cocoa programme participants sold their premium product at triple the price of standard cocoa. In Paraguay’s vulnerable Chaco region, dairy farmers decreased their greenhouse gas emissions by 62% while increasing productivity, and beef producers increased volumes by 60%, all using climate-smart methods.

Climate-smart solutions

Solidaridad South America is adapting its strategy to effectively serve farmers and companies with climate-smart solutions. We’re working towards more resilient production with fewer emissions and better use of land and water while avoiding deforestation. We work in the challenging and diverse landscapes of the Amazon, the savannas of the Brazilian Cerrado, the Colombian Orinoquia, and in the dry forests of Chaco. Innovations in digital and financial tools are key for up-scaling climate-smart solutions. The climate-smart cocoa beans from one of the producers in our cocoa programme were used to make the first chocolate from Tuêre at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris.

Replication and scale

At Solidaridad South America, the model for continual improvement to scale sustainable production has grown beyond its piloting phase. The private sector is now responding by replicating and scaling this model up. Solidaridad is making advancements in establishing more overarching interventions to integrate these in farm solutions with landscape approaches. In addition, Solidaridad is fostering an enabling policy environment to improve native forest conservation and smallholder resilience to climate change.

Competitors can collaborate

The Sustainable Trade Platform in Colombia concluded its first phase, proving that commercial competitors can successfully collaborate on common sustainability challenges. An external evaluation assessed this multi-stakeholder platform as neutral, safe and relevant. The platform helped to articulate standards, develop climate change adaptation solutions and support producers in making important value chains more inclusive and sustainable.

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Continual improvement

The Natural Beef Standards was launched in Paraguay with active support from Solidaridad for the ARP, the main producer association in the country. Cattle ranchers who raise cattle with natural grasses, free of hormones and antibiotics as well as within protected forest corridors, have now organized codes of conduct and guides adapted to the local situation and regulations in Paraguay. Producers used Solidaridad’s continual improvement tool to self-assess their practices and plan improvements.

Engaging and leading

By engaging with leading companies in the region, Solidaridad and the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) increased the supply of soy produced in 2014 under several systems of sustainable management by 1.6 million metric tons, covering a total of 845,262 hectares. This confirms that a change of mindset in producers can drive bottom-up market transformation.

Regional Programmes

Climate smart agriculture

One of the key challenges affecting the highlands coffee sector in the Pacific region is climate change. Solidaridad’s climate-smart agriculture (CSA) model, in a context of sustainable landscape management, aims to have a positive impact on productivity, quality and even in halting the proliferation of diseases.

Sector integration

Private organizations understand that having sustainability credentials will enable them to remain in the market and, due to this acknowledgement, they have become the perfect channel to influence producers who now apply good agricultural practices.

Small artisanal miners

Solidaridad’s work in Peru has demonstrated that it is feasible for small-scale mining to be certified and to produce responsibly, giving small miners access to a sustainable jewel trade.

Inclusive and more diverse

In order for small producers to remain competitive, finding profitable leads for income diversification is key. This can be achieved through the vertical integration of suppliers in bigger agribusinesses or through producer associations.

Land use and regeneration

Considering that soy and livestock are the main deforestation drivers in the region, intensification models and land use planning have been one of Solidaridad’s main lines of intervention to build risk-free supply chains in the Brazilian Amazon and Cerrado biomes, Argentinian Chaco and Paraguayan Atlantic Forest agricultural frontiers.

Change that matters with partners who care. Find out what we can achieve together.

Get in touch

Want to know more about our work in South America? Get in touch with our team.


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Av. Roosevelt N°5866, Miraflores
Lima 18, Peru
+51 1 445.4242
infosouthamerica@solidaridadnetwork.org

Gonzalo La Cruz

Managing Director

gonzalo.lacruz@solidaridadnetwork.org

Rosario Abramo

Communications Manager

rosario.abramo@solidaridadnetwork.org

Violaine Laurens

Digital Solutions Unit Manager

violaine.laurens@solidaridadnetwork.org

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