In July 2020, CCSI made a formal submission to Bonsucro, an international multi-stakeholder initiative and certification scheme concerned with promoting sustainable sugar cane production. The submission formed part of consultations for Bonsucro’s draft Production Standard version 5. CCSI’s submission focused on challenges associated with implementing, and auditing for compliance with, three aspects of Bonsucro’s draft standard, namely:
- Obtaining the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of Indigenous and traditional communities when establishing or expanding sugar production operations
- Implementing transparent and participatory processes to assess, monitor, and evaluate the environmental and social impacts of new and existing projects; and
- Establishing accessible dispute resolution and grievance mechanisms that allow communities to raise and resolve problems.
The submission proposed a concrete solution to complement Bonsucro operators’ efforts to more effectively meet that Standard in practice: a Basket Fund for Responsible Investment.
A Basket Fund for Responsible Investment refers to an independently administered fund that receives financial contributions from multiple sources and then makes grants to pay for technical support – from civil society organizations, paralegals, organizers, non-legal experts, and lawyers, among others – for investment-affected communities. Financial contributors would include Bonsucro operators whose revenues exceed a certain threshold, potentially alongside such operators’ financiers, investors, large-scale suppliers, and customers, among others. By diversifying its sources of funding, a Basket Fund can achieve greater independence of community support, minimizing the risk of actual or perceived undue influence over the community or its support providers.
The submission also noted that facilitating affected communities’ access to technical support through a Basket Fund would also benefit private sector organizations, given that a lack of community support increases the risk of grievances and conflict, which can result in material costs for companies and their investors.
Nami Patel & Sam Szoke-Burke,
Submission to Bonsucro re Production Standard v5 (2019-21),
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/sustainable_investment_staffpubs/95
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