The five innovation areas for Solidaridad are described in more detail below: Climate and Landscape Innovation, Digital Solutions, Gender Inclusivity, Impact Investment and Sustainable Landscapes Management
1. Climate and Landscape Innovation
“Climate change and degradation, and loss of productive land, are likely to be humanity’s biggest challenges in the coming decades. Smallholders are particularly vulnerable, and the least able to adapt to these changes. With Solidaridad’s position and presence across various agricultural value chains, we provide solutions that contribute to enhanced landscape resilience, supporting producers to adapt to climate change while improving their productivity.” – Eduard Merger, Climate and Landscape Innovation Manager
Globally more than 50% of productive landscapes are considered degraded. Wide-scale adoption of unsustainable practices leading to deforestation and landscape degradation is increasing. This accelerates the impact of climate change causing droughts, floods, and other extreme weather. This then leads to a depletion of key ecosystem services, pollution, and an increase in health and conflict risks. We work on different levels to address these challenges.
Across landscapes and value chains we engage with multiple stakeholder groups (government, the private sector, producers and farmers) to collaboratively work towards more resilient landscape management by:
- improving landscape governance and regulatory environment
- enabling investment environment
- increasing production and uptake of sustainably-sourced products.
At the producer level, we identify and promote evidence-based climate-smart solutions that enhance the ability of producers to adapt to and mitigate climate change while increasing productivity.
- Organizing multi-stakeholder processes to enable balanced agricultural commodity production with landscape resilience and ecosystem service provision
- Developing better governance, enabling investment environment, stronger inclusivity and better market uptake of sustainable products
- Identifying and promoting regenerative and climate-smart land management practices to producers (for example: regenerative soil management practices, water management techniques, agroforestry, and improved livestock practices.)
2. Digital Solutions
"Advances in digital technology provide rural communities with an unprecedented opportunity to overcome isolation, improve communication, bridge knowledge gaps and adapt." – Pieter Sijbrandij, Digital Solutions Manager.
Solidaridad is using information and telecommunication technologies to bring the speed and scale that systemic change demands. Solidaridad developed a digital platform that enables cost-effective scaling up of technical assistance and business intelligence, as an innovative way to include producers in sustainable agriculture for the generations to come.
At producer level, Solidaridads digital solutions support farmers to continuously improve by providing access to information on best agricultural practices, in a friendly audio-visual format and right when they need it. The use of digital solutions in agriculture also enables cooperatives, sourcing companies and other agricultural organizations to align objectives and support activities based on reliable data and conduct activities in synergy, pooling resources and insights.
To learn more, visit Farming Solution, a mobile application that fosters farmers’ autonomy to identify, plan improvements and monitor progress on their farms over time.
- Access to information for continuous improvement
- Cost-effective technical assistance model
- Business intelligence for data-driven decision making
3. Gender & Inclusivity
"Solidaridad’s understanding of inclusive development takes into account the needs, potential, participation and contribution of men and women equally. At present, most of the sectors in which we work, women are not part of the formal economy and do not equally benefit from it, or are even negatively affected by it." – Njeri Kimotho, Diversity & Inclusivity Specialist
Solidaridad’s current programming is based on its “3-tier business case” of gender inclusivity:
- Increased quantity of impact by tapping into the unused economic potential of women;
- Increased quality of impact by increasing (gender) diversity in the formal economies and society;
- Increased sustainability of impact by empowering women in their social influence on the education of children and redistribution of wealth in communities.
Current barriers to the equal participation of men and women in economies and landscapes need to be addressed. Solidaridad designs and organizes projects from the perspective of gender equity. Sensitization and training of Solidaridad staff and partners is part of this approach, as is specific attention for capacity building and social and economic empowerment of women. To create an enabling environment for gender inclusivity, Solidaridad’s lobbying and advocacy activities will include gender-specific interests. Strategic partnerships, adequate funding and a smart use of technology will support this process.
- Generate gender-sensitive programming and impact measurement;
- Develop best practices for economic independence, equal access to education, full participation in society and free choice of profession for women working in agriculture and mining.
4. Impact investment
"To make sustainable practices more attractive for markets and financial institutions, we are developing clear business cases and investment opportunities for investors who seek more benefits than financial return only. Our donors are encouraged by the fact that their funds help to leverage additional commercial finance." – Frederik Claasen, Impact Investment Specialist
At the producer level, Solidaridad supports farmers on improving their business case and attracting impact-driven private sector investments. To be successful, farmers need to be able to rely on a robust rural infrastructure of agricultural companies and cooperatives delivering services and products they need. Solidaridad supports the development of such an infrastructure by mitigating the business risks for these companies and cooperatives using (local) private sector investments.
At the landscape level, Solidaridad supports farmers and consortia of companies to develop a bankable business case for landscape-level i
nterventions like carbon reduction, water management and decreased deforestation.
At the country level, Solidaridad advocates for responsible finance practices among leading public and private investors, providing that investments be guided by social and environmental checks, balances and safeguards.
- Linking investors to programmes;
- Developing business cases and investable proposals.
Solidaridad is a member of the Aspen Network of Development Entrepeneurs (ANDE)