/ ©: WWF

Responsible Sugarcane

Sugarcane production and trade have altered the course of human history, from the migration of peoples to changing political systems. But more recently, the industry has also left a non-negligible footprint on the natural environment. This is why WWF works with stakeholders in the sugarcane industry to make sure that it is environmentally viable.

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.

► Read more about why sugarcane needs to become environmentally sustainable

Our approach

The 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.


WWF Targets

2015: 10% of global sugarcane production will be Bonsucro certified
 

Progress

3.32% of global sugarcane production is Bonsucro certified (January 2014).
► Read more about how WWF works with the sugar industry
How can we move production to more sustainable practices? Find out about WWF's Market Transformation Initiative ►

Better Production for a Living Planet

 / ©: WWF

CASE STUDY: Sugarcane and the Great Barrier Reef—what’s the connection?

 / ©: WWF-Canon / Jürgen Freund
Australia, which has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, is obliged to protect the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Site from global warming.
© WWF-Canon / Jürgen Freund
Think of threats to the Great Barrier Reef, and sugarcane probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Yet runoff from sugarcane and other farms near the coast can have a severe environmental impact.

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.

77.5 billion litres
"Amount of water runoff from the sugarcane industry whose quality has been significantly improved through Project Catalyst"

READ CASE STUDY

CONTEXT

Threats
  • 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.

Opportunities
  • 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

Sugar producers, traders and buyers, along with non-profits involved in the sugar industry, can join Bonsucro to drive this industry towards more responsible practices. ► Visit the Bonsucro website 

When shopping, look for products with the Bonsucro label—an assurance that the sugar in this product was produced without causing environmental harm.
  •  / ©: Bonsucro
    Bonsucro aims to improve the social, environmental, and economic sustainability of sugarcane. bonsucro.org

Priority Countries

  • Production
    Brazil, India, China, Thailand, Pakistan, Australia, South Africa, Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia, Fiji

    Markets
    China, India, USA, EU, Japan, Brazil

Trends

  • Demand drivers
    Consumption, population, income, biofuel policies

    Future focus for success
    Brazil, Fiji, Central America, Australia, India, Pakistan, Colombia, South Africa

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