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Here are Three Ways to Build Better Sustainable Business after COVID-19

Aiswarya R Nair
Aiswarya R Nair

Over the world, COVID-19 cases are nearing one crore and almost five lakh people have died of the disease so far. All industries and businesses have been disrupted so far. The livelihood of millions of farmers and workers have come to a standstill due to this pandemic. 

According to a report by the World Economic Forum, the pandemic has focused attention on how dependent people are towards the environment. As businesses are thinking of strengthening their operations after the crisis, current innovations in sustainability certification can help build more resilient supply chains through a stronger focus on continuous improvement, transparency and shared responsibility. 

Here are three ways to achieve that: 

1Measure continuous improvement to help farmers and companies mitigate risks and build resilience

The severe economic impacts of COVID-19 have amplified public opinion and consumer preference for responsible businesses. According to an Independent Research in 2019, shows that certification has a positive environmental, social and economic impact. Credible third-party certification systems enable businesses to demonstrate their commitment to tackling deforestation, protecting natural resources, and contributing towards a living income and decent work to producers and workers across the world.  

In 2017, certified production accounted for 16% of the total area under cultivation for tea and almost a quarter of global cocoa and coffee production areas. Sustainability is not an endpoint, it’s a journey. Sustainability certification must become the vehicle that supports and accompanies whole supply chains throughout that journey. 

2. Be transparent and accountable

Certification systems are now developing a wider and more innovative set of tools that allow producers, consumers, and companies to track agricultural products from farm to fork. Traceability systems are being strengthened to show where products originate and how they move through the supply chain so that sustainability risks can be continuously identified and investments made to address them.  

Satellite imagery is increasingly being used to monitor deforestation and other environmental risks such as water use and erosion, which threaten farmer productivity and incomes and which put the long-term viability of entire agricultural supply chains at risk. These kinds of data-driven risk assessment and improvement approaches will be key to building up more resilient and sustainable supply chains. 

3. Share the benefits and the costs of sustainable production

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the stark inequalities within and between countries – which the economic impact of the pandemic will almost certainly exacerbate. The expected global downturn could push millions into poverty in the coming years, with those in low-income groups and poor countries disproportionately affected. 

Certification is a key tool for farmers and companies to show they are taking steps to address sustainability. But the burden of making agricultural production more sustainable cannot rest on the shoulders of producers alone. Certification systems must both enable and oblige buyers to share the responsibility to invest in and reward sustainable production. 

One organization already rising to this challenge is the Rainforest Alliance. This month the organization revealed its new seal, which represents the merger of two major agricultural certification standards, UTZ and the Rainforest Alliance. Farmers producing ingredients used in products that carry the new seal are on a pathway of continuous improvement, transparency, and shared responsibility. 

On June 30, 2020, the organization releases its new Sustainable Agriculture Standard, incorporating new tools to support producers and companies in setting clear sustainability targets and focusing investments to improve positive impacts for people and nature. Innovations like these are timely tools to support more resilient agriculture and make responsible business the new normal in a COVID-19 world. 

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