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1.2 Selecting agricultural supply chains

  • Sustainable landscape initiatives target key supply chains of products, aiming to make them more efficient, environmentally sustainable and profitable.
  • Regional government objectives, plans and projections should guide the initial selection of supply chains.
  • Specific ‘interventions’ to improve these supply chains can be chosen by using well-designed selection criteria.
The Unlocking Forest Finance approach focuses on improving agricultural supply chains. It starts with making the production of agricultural commodities more sustainable. Regional government objectives and the availability of data can help guide which supply chains are most important to address deforestation.
Coffee plants. Copyright: Sarit.

This selection process applies to supply chains producing commodities such as timber, beef or coffee. It was also used to assess the comparative benefits of different conservation interventions and projects to support indigenous and traditional livelihoods.

There are several key pieces of analysis which can help define a portfolio of supply chains which maximises environmental, social and financial benefits:

1. Mapping the local context

If the project includes international organisations and other external partners, a detailed context report is useful for creating a common starting point and understanding. This stage is less important when the regional government is coordinating the process.

Transition plans

Regional government projections and targets are a key piece of information at this stage. Other people and organisations can also provide important information on economic patterns, deforestation rates, policies and the future outlook for the region. These include conservation organisations working in the area, trade unions, producer cooperatives and other associations. Researchers will need to map these organisations and interview representatives when possible.

2. First selection of supply chains and activities

The Unlocking Forest Finance approach started with government priorities to define an initial grouping of supply chains and activities to be investigated. At this stage, it is critical that the main drivers of deforestation and land degradation are included if the project is to have maximum impact.

All proposed interventions should be subject to comparable environmental, social and financial analyses. For this reason, it may be very difficult to add new supply chains or interventions at a later stage, once project partners have already started investigating different options.

Regardless of whether the initiative is led by regional government or another organisation, the selection of supply chains should be aligned with regional government priorities as much as possible. If they are closely aligned, the project may be able to draw on political (and possibly financial) support.

3. Defining interventions

For supply chains driving deforestation, land degradation or other environmental problems in the area, it is necessary to define ‘interventions,’ the changes that need to be implemented and financed to make production more sustainable. In the case of agricultural production, interventions aim to make these supply chains more productive, sustainable and socially beneficial.

Many of the interventions used in the Unlocking Forest Finance pilot projects aimed to increase productivity, thereby meeting a growing demand while using the same land area or less.

For example, intensifying cattle ranching may make it more efficient overall, thus reducing the pressure on the forest and increasing profits. Other interventions may have other environmental benefits, such as methods to reduce use of chemicals or recycle water in coffee plantations. These interventions should be based on real-life methods already being used in the local area or similar areas. They should be demonstrably successful.

Once a definitive list of supply chains and the interventions has been drawn up, this information can be used to construct different future scenarios.

Learn more about this approach

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