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ISCC Landscape Approach

Beyond certification – ISCC Landscape Approach for mitigating sustainability and deforestation risks

Certified operators are allowed to process non-sustainable material. This material comes in many cases from unknown sources and may originate from illegal sources or is produced under environmentally or socially unacceptable conditions. Often, organized or independent smallholders (ISH) are involved who see the expansion of their plantation area as the only option to increase income, which bears the risk of further deforestation.

Hence, even certified companies may be exposed to severe sustainability risks if sourcing from non certified unknown origin.

The ISCC Landscape Approach envisages that ISCC certified oil mills take responsibility for their sourcing areas and act as a role model for others in the region. They are an important pillar to support rural development in their regions. In their own interest oil mills should start with a risk analysis of their sourcing area and focus on those areas which are exposed to the highest risks. How this risk analysis can be performed by using the Global Risk Assessment Services (GRAS) Tool – a web-based tool offering geo-referenced information about ecological and social sustainability and land use change – is explained in figure 1.

Figure 1: Risk evaluation in four steps using the GRAS (Global Risk Assessment Services) Tool

First of all, a 100 km radius of the sourcing area is analysed regarding environmental and biodiversity risk. As ISCC does have a very strict no-deforestation policy and does not allow any land use change after January 2008. Starting with the area with the highest risk a detailed verification of land use change based on Landsat EVI (Enhanced Vegetation Index) is possible with GRAS. The analysis of the EVI allows its users to identify deforestation, replanting activities, grassland conversion and cropping activities. The challenge will be to implement full traceability to identify the supplying plantations and to initiate capacity building amongst smallholders. Certified units can act as nucleus for rural development and smallholder capacity building to prevent further deforestation through qualification of non-certified smallholders and plantations supported by internal and external funding.

Traceability can be ensured through the establishment of direct links to the plantations, sourcing directly from growers. If the exclusion of middlemen should be avoided, they can be integrated by using ground-breaking traceability databases such as Trace Your Claim (TYC). Figure 2 demonstrates how TYC together with GRAS allow to map and evaluate full supply chains. Customized company dashboards within GRAS allow easy management and full traceability of supply chains from the plantation until the final product.

Figure 2: A customized sustainability dashboard allows to manage palm oil mills accoroding to the sustainability risk of their sourcing areas and on plantation level (fictive example)

To focus on mitigating sustainability risks and to assist smallholders on their way to increase their income and become certified, ISCC together with regional and local specialists provide specific good agricultural practices (GAP) and ISCC ISH Training focusing on the organization of independent smallholders and better management practices.