Solidaridad works throughout Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean using a sustainable landscape approach. Solidaridad seeks to build synergies, market connections and sustainability of the major commodities. Solidaridad also helps to ensure good agricultural practices, fair working conditions and inclusive supply chains.
Solidaridad’s partnerships in Central America and Mexico focus on sustainable social and environmental practices. Solidaridad aims to promote more efficient agriculture by improving labour conditions, planting and harvesting techniques in the field, safety and efficiency in factories and processing plants, and knowledge of shifting climate patterns.
Despite challenging market and climatic conditions, the agriculture sector and consumers are increasing demand for social and environmental sustainability in commodities and products. Producers of all sizes – growing palm oil, sugarcane, livestock, coffee – are committed to strengthening and improving sustainability in their supply chains.
Geographic proximity and increasingly integrated markets have opened the doors for Solidaridad to develop sustainable landscape interventions. Programmes focus on building synergies among national and international markets, strengthening producer organizations, and facilitating learning exchange of best practices – both in-person and through multi-stakeholder platforms – with smallholders, larger producers and mills to leverage knowledge and investments in sustainable supply chains.
Social exclusion continues to pose a significant problem across the region. Members of communities who can and want to contribute to social and economic growth and production are often excluded based on gender, socio-economic class, cultural background, and age.
There are dominant power groups that need not only awareness training but that must also make fundamental changes to ¨business as usual¨ in order to incorporate more socially-inclusive practices.
Unsustainable natural resource management is a challenge across the region. Outdated land use practices, mismanaged and declining water resources, and irresponsible expansion of productive areas threaten water and soil health and fertility, as well as crop yields. They put undue stress on community health and well-being as multiple actors compete for scarce resources. Farmers must invest more intelligently in fertilizers, pesticides, recycling, labour costs and other inputs to mitigate declining yields.
While some countries in the region have water management laws, they need reinforcement with tangible examples of best practice. Others, like Guatemala, are in a heated debate on what the laws on natural resource management should entail. There are few instances of collective, multi-stakeholder collaboration and investment to restore watersheds and riparian zones that bring multiple benefits to the landscape stakeholders.
Due to changes in climate and weather patterns and the rapid expansion of monocultures — like oil palm and sugarcane— producers, industry, and communities face increased vulnerability, particularly with more intense and frequent weather events. Farmers have had to shift both growing seasons and growing areas from traditional farming areas. This means the agricultural frontier often creeps into fragile, protected or communal areas as smallholders and large agribusiness alike try to maximize their growing area, resulting in suboptimal natural resource management and land-use planning.
In Mexico and Central America, Solidaridad has had remarkable success in engaging and moving the Honduran and Guatemalan palm oil industries towards compliance with Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil Principles & Criteria standards (RSPO standard P&C) and moving the entire regional sector towards greater sustainability.
Since 2013, Solidaridad has worked on implementing sustainable practices with over 90% of all oil palm producers in Honduras and over 65% of all Guatemalan producers. Interventions continue to see progress in both countries with additional companies successfully achieving RSPO certification, the move from farm to landscape-level initiatives in Honduras, the inclusion of thousands of smallholders in the adoption of best practices, and increasing efforts of companies to engage in dialogue and inclusive actions with communities and other stakeholders.
The launch of Paisajes Sostenibles (PaSos) – or Sustainable Landscapes – is driving progress and national commitments to a jurisdictional RSPO certification approach in Honduras and Nicaragua, and is generating new opportunities for blended finance and impact investment for inclusive supply chains in palm oil, livestock and cacoa.
- Palm oil
Mesoamerican Palm Oil Alliance
Mexico and Central America are considered to be a promising new frontier for oil palm expansion as the availability of suitable land in Malaysia and Indonesia becomes increasingly limited and global demand for palm oil continues to grow. Palm oil is by far the most productive of crop-derived oils, and can actually represent an improvement in ecological function if plantations are established on degraded lands.
Sugarcane is one of the fastest-growing commodities across Mexico and Central America. Solidaridad has partnered with the region´s leading sugarcane producers to launch PanAmericaña, a multi-stakeholder platform of sugar mills across Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras to improve production, labour conditions and standards across the industry.
Rehabilitation and renovation
In recent years, coffee agroforestry systems in Mesoamerica have been devastated by a leaf rust outbreak that reduced productivity up to 60-70%. In Mexico alone, 300,000 families depend on coffee as their primary income source.
In 2017, regional commodity-based multi-stakeholder platforms and sustainable landscape initiatives in Honduras and Nicaragua matured under the leadership of a strengthened and professionalized Solidaridad team. Innovations were integrated in impact investment, digital technology, gender inclusion, and climate solutions. Solidaridad introduced new business models to meet the growing demand for guidance and support from the private sector, government and civil society organizations.
Solidaridad Central America leveraged experience and relationships built over the past five years to launch regional platforms that create flows of information and innovation to optimize sector transformation of key commodities. Solidaridad also encouraged sharing successful solutions among sectors, boosting capital flows, and accelerating and increasing the impact of sustainable and inclusive practices, including youth participation and gender equity.
Measurable results, proven innovation, published research and increased international visibility led to strengthened multi-actor engagement in multiple sectors. The stage was set for upscaling interventions at national and regional levels. Sectors moved from farm to landscape in continual improvement schemes. Efficiency and leverage matter as good practices are increasingly considered “business as usual”.
Pilot projects for palm oil in Honduras and Guatemala and for sugarcane in Mexico have expanded as sustainability standards were shown to be both attainable and effective for all stakeholders. By the end of the year, producers and processors throughout the region were asking to participate.
Jeroen Douglas is new executive director of Solidaridad Network
As of May 2019, Solidaridad has a new Executive Director. Jeroen Douglas takes over from Nico Roozen, who has led the organization for 33 years. Jeroen has a long history with Solidaridad and combines continuity with innovation.
5 Ways to help small sugarcane farmers become more sustainable
Solidaridad and partner organization Orplana provided insights from their newest programme, Muda Cana, to support smallholders on their journey towards sustainability during the Bonsucro Week held in Bangkok.
Solidaridad releases mid-term review
Solidaridad has released the findings of the mid-term review of its Advocacy for Change and Practice for Change programmes. Alongside the review, Solidaridad shared its response to recommendations.
Smallholder oil palm production in Honduras: A model for sustainable livelihoods and landscapes
When hurricane Fifi-Orlene hit Honduras in 1974 whole communities were wiped out, as well as an the country's banana crop, leaving the economy shattered. Nearly five decades later we look at how this catastrophic event made way for the development of the oil palm industry and how local government and Solidaridad interventions have since improved the livelihoods of many Honduran farmers and thei
Smallholder oil palm in Honduras – A model for sustainable livelihoods and landscapes
This paper presents the story of the evolution of oil palm farming following hurricane Fifi-Orlene which hit Honduras in 1974, wiping out entire communities. It looks at how government, NGO and community interventions within the oil palm industry have since improved the livelihoods of many Honduran farmers and their families.
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.