Sustainable Agriculture in Tropical Forest Landscapes (2014)

Client Organization: 
CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security
Project Location : 
Sao Paulo, Brazil and Jakarta, Indonesia
Summary of Project Idea: 

Commodity agricultural production in tropical forest regions is rapidly expanding and is frequently linked to deforestation, increased emissions of greenhouse gases, losses in biodiversity, poor working conditions and wages, and land tenure conflicts. Voluntary certification programs are one type of intervention used to incentivize the agricultural commodity sector to improve sustainability. This research aims to analyze the role of voluntary certification programs in tropical landscapes. Specifically, how these programs are often challenged to boost producer participation and maintain high sustainability standards simultaneously. Together, these two factors control the additionality of the program, or its potential to motivate the industry to move beyond baseline conditions. More formal analysis is needed of the ways in which programs are structured to mitigate trade-offs between participation and high standards. This study considers these issues related to additionality from a value-creation perspective. The two case studies, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) voluntary certification program in Indonesia and the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) voluntary certification for cattle in Brazil, are used to illustrate the role of design choices in rendering sustainability outcomes.

SEAS Program Areas: 
Conservation Ecology (Aquatic Sciences, Terrestrial Ecosystems, and Conservation Biology)
Environmental Policy and Planning
Sustainable Systems
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Arun Agrawal
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Ben Chen, MBA/MS Sustainable Systems
  • Hsuan-wen "Ann" Kuo, MS Conservation Ecology/Environmental Policy and Planning
  • Chanisa Niljinda, Environmental Policy and Planning¬†
  • Melisa Ongun, MS Sustainable Systems
  • Paul Winters, MS Environmental Policy and Planning
Project Status: 
Past Project