CANOPY BRIDGE

Category:

Location/Scale:

Ecuador (National)

Founder:

Marta Echavarria and colleagues

Period:

2018 – now

In a nutshell

The Canopy Bridge on-line directory provides a free and easily accessible meeting place that allows buyers and sellers of sustainable crops and wild-harvested products to connect. By allowing users to create personalized profiles, highlighting their capabilities, stories and products, they are able to build relationships.

Canopy Bridge works with a group of more than 25 chefs from Ecuador´s best restaurants, indigenous communities and conservation NGOs. They provide a so far missing link in the value chain for fresh Amazon products and ingredients. The focus is on products grown by the Kichwa people in highly diversified chakra agroforestry production units and aquaculture paiche, an Amazon fish species produced by the Ai-Kofán people. Both production lines have substantial conservation benefits and culinary potential. In collaboration with their network, Canopy Bridge screens, identifies and incubates products and ingredients from the Amazon rainforest that were previously unknown.

In addition, they sensitize consumers and provide a way for producers to be able to sell their products in markets that value their effort and their cultural legacy. Canopy Bridge also provides customized sourcing services and information to clients, forming the personal link that spans the distances, both geographical and cultural, between local producers in the developing world and companies in global markets. By building the connections between local producers and chefs, they promote new products with culinary potential and are therefore driving revenues directly to communities, thus providing new incentives for conservation.

Context

Covering just 0.2% of the Earth´s surface, Ecuador is one of the most biologically diverse countries. Biodiversity in the  Amazon lowlands is exceptionally rich, but also highly threatened. While the Amazon region comprises almost half of Ecuador´s territory, its rich cultural and biological diversity is poorly known and undervalued in the country´s centers of economic and political power. Indigenous peoples are stewards of 50% of the Ecuadorian Amazon, struggling to maintain their territories, culture and livelihoods in the face of dramatic changes such as climate change and deforestation over the last 50 years.

Objective

By connecting businesses, producer associations and community groups buying and selling food products, Canopy Bridge aims at contributing to improved livelihoods, social empowerment and a healthy ecosystem. Their main mission is to help these businesses and individuals thrive by bypassing unnecessary intermediaries and therefore making transactions and sourcing decisions as well as discovery and relationship building easy and transparent.

Key Interventions

Farm Level:

  • In contrast to extensive cattle ranches or oil palm plantations, the fish farms of the Ai-Kofán community provide significant revenues from relatively small areas, thus reducing pressure for deforestation
  • By promoting a variety of traditional chakra products, Canopy Bridge does not only increase the social and environmental components but also give economic value to diversity rather than to single-crop solutions

Regional/National Level:

  • Contributed to new food movements by being part of gastronomic and cultural events and promoting targeted products on a national and international scale
  • Founded the Cumari network in collaboration with other partners, in order to create a platform for shared learning, collaboration and promotion of Amazon products
  • With seed grant funding by the Swift Foundation of USD 3’500, the implemented activities have already generated sales for USD 4’181 in 4 months of operation

Lessons Learned/challenges

The mosaic of farms and forests of the Ai-Kofán and Kichwa as well as their landscape conservation are of global importance including multiple Amazonian protected areas. There is a clear potential to increase the volumes of sales and integrating additional producer groups living in or near the Amazon. Although these actions make sense from an economic perspective, it poses a major challenge not to sacrifice indigenous forests and farms including their biodiversity, food security and culture in order to meet an increasing demand and the need for additional income.

Relevant Links & references

BNP PARIBAS’ CSR

Category:

Location/Scale:

Global (International)

Implementing Organisation:

BNP Paribas S.A.

Period:

2000 – now

In a nutshell

BNP Paribas, a French international banking group, is the world’s 8th largest bank by total assets, with a presence in 72 countries. Since 2002, the banks corporate social responsibility (CSR) approach allows them to take part in building a sustainable future while promoting the group’s performance and stability.

Many of the industries that require financing present major environmental, social and governance (ESG) challenges such as the palm oil and nuclear energy production or the current agriculture practices. BNP Paribas has aligned its CSR strategy with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).

Furthermore, the bank realized that climate change is becoming the main driver of biodiversity erosion and therefore renamed one of its programs “Climate & Biodiversity Initiative”. The program includes nine international new research projects, which are supported with six million euros and range from addressing knowledge gaps on biodiversity and associated ecosystem processes to the identification of tree species mixtures to optimize climate mitigation and adaptation.

By devoting over USD 1,000 billion to responsible investments, the bank intends to generate a change to more sustainability in its overall asset portfolio. Internally, BNP Paribas became carbon neutral in 2017, after reducing its CO2 emissions and increasing its use of renewable energies.

Moreover, BNP Paribas is the global leader in green bonds, a bond specifically earmarked to be used for climate and environmental projects. Besides the monetary interventions, BNP Paribas is actively leading awareness-raising activities, familiarizing the general public and their employees with environmental issues.

Context

Although the demand for financing projects with a positive impact on the environment and society is growing among investors, most of these projects still have difficulties finding investors, as they are often viewed as risky investments. The gap between the multitude of projects with a positive impact that cannot be financed and the huge amount of capital available to global investors, is called funding gap. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the funding gap amounts to USD 5000-7000 billion (half in developing countries only) in financing needed to achieve the SDGs in 2030.

Objective

Because agriculture is a key sector for the global economy, BNP Paribas has instituted a financing and investment policy dedicated to guiding activities of this industry. Besides their economic goals, the bank aims at fostering the dialogue between the banking world and local organizations in order to support cultural, social or environmental development.

Key Interventions

Regional/National Level:

  • Launched the Tropical Landscape Finance Facility (TLFF) in Indonesia with the aim to create a platform for issuing green loans using private capital to finance sustainable economic development for farmers and restore deteriorating agricultural landscapes
  • Created a financing program model that is part of the Sustainable India Finance Facility (SIFF) which further finances the Zero Budget Natural Farming movement in India (see Factsheet ZBNF)
  • Increased access of small-scale farmers to climate adaptation finance by joining the coalition with UNEP in a project called Microfinance for Ecosystem-based Adaptation
  • Created Climate Seed, a platform designed to allow organizations to offset their unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions by contributing to sustainable agriculture projects
  • Encourage the renewable energy production from agricultural waste material by teaming up with the foundation Goodplanet, which aims to install 13,000 bio-digesters and improve the living conditions for nearly 70,000 people

Lessons Learned/challenges

Despite the banks’ CSR actions, BNP Paribas has also been criticized in the past for its role in financing a range of “dirty” fossil fuel projects, involved in financing the exploration of oil sands and coal-fired power plants. NGO’s and civil society organizations accused the bank of greenwashing its operations, demanding real actions to ensure that the banks’ measures do not end up as empty promises.

Consequently, the bank no longer finances activities related to the exploitation of shale gas, stopped renewing loans granted to businesses in the coal sector and refuses to support oil and gas drilling projects in the Arctic, all since 2015. In addition, the bank entered into a partnership with UNEP and Rabobank in order to set aside USD 11 billion to scale up and support agroecology and land use options.

Relevant Links & references

ADAPTA GROUP

Category:

Location/Scale:

Brazil (Local)

Implementing Organisation:

Adapta Sertão

Period:

2018 – now

In a nutshell

The initial idea to create a solid and replicable strategy to help small family farmers living in fragile biomes in Brazil and to support the adaption to climate change was developed by Adapta Sertão, one of the first multi-stakeholder coalitions in the Brazilian territory.

By joining forces with the Adapta group, which has been created in 2018, they transformed a program called Modulo Agroclimático Inteligente e Sustentável (MAIS) into an impact business that is available to corporate clients, public and financial institutions as well as non-governmental organizations. The MAIS program aims at training farmers on how to generate satisfactory incomes even during drought-intensive periods using alternative farming methods across value chains.

The founders of the Adapta group have practical experience on working with farming families living in areas of high climatic vulnerability for more than a decade and engaged over 650 farmers. To enhance climate resilience, the MAIS program integrates the recovery of ecosystem services with agricultural production while additionally promoting gender equality.

Moreover, it builds on a shared vision of the problem and its solution and helps to transform markets to become more sustainable and fair. Besides that, the Adapta group cooperates with financial institutions to help structure specific credit mechanisms for the family farmers and to develop the farms into sustainable agricultural businesses.

Context

In recent years, Brazil has become the world’s largest exporter of soybeans, coffee, and sugar, as well as one of the largest overall food producer on the planet. The majority of the Brazilian staples is produced by family farmers, which also produce more than 70% of food consumed domestically. The agricultural sector as a whole constitutes nearly 6% of Brazil’s total GDP (without considering other players of the food value chain) and employs nearly 16% of their total labor force. Nevertheless, international monitoring organizations assert that a third of Brazil’s population is food insecure and have difficulty meeting their nutrition needs. It is alarming that Brazil’s agricultural sector and deforestation account for 75% of its greenhouse gas emissions.

Objective

The goal of the MAIS program is to implement sustainable and climate resilient agricultural practices in the most diverse biomes and agricultural value chains in Brazil. The Adapta group campaigns for an inclusion of family farmers in structured value chains with a focus on climate resilience, sustainability and economic viability for all the actors involved.

Key Interventions

Farm Level:

  • Analysing the local situation and presenting the most suitable agroecological, climate-friendly solutions to the farmers directly
  • Offering assistance to farmers by providing and coordinating a multidisciplinary technical team which supports the implementation of practices on the farm
  • Monitoring technical, social, economic and environmental performance of each farm and program through the web-based MAISoft System, which offers open access to farmers data and impact report in order to enhance transparency
  • Developing individual business plans and setting up credit mechanisms to help farmers access the required capital for implementing the proposed solutions
  • Supporting the farmers in an effective deployment of capital by providing direct consultation through a technician

Lessons Learned/challenges

Overall, the MAIS program increased farmers’ dairy production by 63% and their income by 204%. Furthermore, the program resulted in a 30% improvement in pastureland and a 50% decrease in the water footprint of the areas’ farms. In addition, over 3 tons of CO2 is estimated to be offset for each hectare of restored pastureland. So far, ADAPTA has been active on farm level and engaged in socio-economic aspects such as the support of regional value generation and the development of trading relationships with local growers.

Nevertheless, potential involvement could be seen in the support of healthy, diversified and culturally appropriate diets. In order to widen their positive influence and results, ADAPTA would have to start engaging on a policy level by fostering responsible, transparent and inclusive governance mechanisms such as the recognition of traditional rights over natural resources or payments for ecosystem services, biodiversity-friendly agricultural regulations and subsidies.

Relevant Links & references