Why sugar needs to become more sustainable
|23.8 million ha||Area covered by sugarcane plantations in 2010, almost the size of the UK (find out more)|
Sugarcane is a water-intensive crop that remains in the soil all year long. As one of the world’s thirstiest crops, sugarcane has a significant impact on many environmentally sensitive regions, like the Mekong Delta and the Atlantic Forest. Historic planting of sugarcane around the world has led to significant degradation of biodiversity.
A vast global market for sugarcane derivatives keeps the industry booming. Sugar is prevalent in the modern diet and increasingly a source of biofuels and bioplastics.
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Our approachThe most effective way to reduce the sugarcane industry’s impact of the environment is to transform the way sugar is grown and processed. For example, building soil helps to sustain long-term production while reducing the use of damaging pesticides.
To maximize our impact, WWF works with the sugarcane industry—from small farmers to big buyers like Coca-Cola and Unilever—to develop standards for producing this commodity sustainably through Bonsucro.
This platform is a collaboration of sugar retailers, investors, traders, producers and NGOs who are committed to sustainable sugar production.
Progress3.32% of global sugarcane production is Bonsucro certified (January 2014).
Better Production for a Living Planet
CASE STUDY: Sugarcane and the Great Barrier Reef—what’s the connection?
Project Catalyst—a partnership between WWF, private firms, farmers and the local government among others—supports farmers to adopt new cutting-edge practices, from new cultivation strategies to equipment modifications.
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- Habitat conversion;
- Soil erosion and degradation;
- Agrochemical use;
- Water use and pollution;
- Greenhouse gas emissions;
- Labor and land tenure rights, health, payment (minimum wage and contracts) and training of workers.
- Potential to reduce habitat destruction and biodiversity loss in some of Earth’s most precious natural places;
- Greenhouse gas avoidance and mitigation through biofuel production for fuel and plastics;
- Improve water quality and availability;
- Improve livelihoods.
Be part of the solution
When shopping, look for products with the Bonsucro label—an assurance that the sugar in this product was produced without causing environmental harm.