BVRio coordinates global Environmental Committee of new zero-deforestation soy initiative

BVRio is coordinating the independent Environmental Committee of the Responsible Commodities Facility (RCF) made up of the biggest names in global conservation efforts. The committee will review and provide input into the environmental management of the first US$11million pilot programme offering financial incentives for farmers in Brazil who commit to deforestation- and conversion-free (DCF) soy cultivation, which was announced this week.

Financed by the first issuance of dollar-denominated green CRAs (Certificates of Agribusiness Receivables) registered in the Vienna Stock Exchange, the RCF Cerrado Programme 1 is providing finance to 36 farms, located in the Cerrado region of Brazil, producing 75,000 tons soy per year (for four years), resulting in the conservation of over 11,000 ha of native vegetation, 4,200 in excess of legal reserves. The Cerrado is the world’s most biodiverse savanna and it is under threat from high levels of deforestation, with over 28% estimated to be linked to soy expansion (source).

The green CRAs for this first phase were subscribed by UK supermarkets Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, and after an initial 12-month trial, it is expected that the Responsible Commodities Facility (RCF) will attract a much wider range of investors to scaled it up to include hundreds of farmers across Brazil, helping to protect vast tracts of native Cerrado vegetation, conserving biodiversity, water quality and carbon stocks.

The independent Environmental Committee is coordinated by BVRio and includes, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), The Nature Conservancy, WWF, Conservation International Brazil, Proforest and Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia (IPAM), and will review and provide input into the environmental management of the facility, to confirm that producers are following its requirements and generating the expected environmental benefits. The RCF is run by Sustainable Investment Management Ltd (SIM), a strategic partner of BVRio.

Beto Mesquita, BVRio Director of Forests and Public Policies, will lead the secretariat of the Environmental Committee. “We are honoured to be working alongside this exceptional and broad group of stakeholders. Together we will be responsible for providing independent input and transparency to the implementation of the RCF Cerrado Programme 1 in respect to the compliance with the Environmental Eligibility Criteria and the environmental performance of the Programme. The Committee will confirm the veracity of the Environmental Impact Statements that will be issued by the Programme Manager to each investor in the RCF. This will provide investors and commodities buyers with the assurance that the soy produced is deforestation- and conversion-free.”

Commenting on the announcement of the initiative, Environmental Committee member and development partner UNEP commented, “Global demand for soy production is driving significant deforestation,” said Susan Gardner, Director, Ecosystems Division at UNEP “Practical financial solutions like the Responsible Commodities Facility incentivise farmers to decouple commodity production from deforestation and land conversion practices, leading to enhanced landscape restoration, climate mitigation, adaptation and biodiversity protection in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. A great example of how farmers can be effectively incentivized would be for all the companies that have signed up to the Cerrado Manifesto Statement of Support to materialise this commitment through funding this facility.”