Assessing and mitigating impacts of biofuels production on land rights and food security
With the recent boom in biofuels production in developing countries, concerns about their negative impact are growing: biofuels can be a threat to local and global food security and adversely affect access to land by local communities. A certification system for sustainable biofuels can provide guidance on mitigating their negative impacts and strengthening their advantages. SDC is supporting the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) in further developing an agreed standard and drafting implementing guidelines that address food security and land rights issues.
Due to the rising global demand for energy and expected fuel shortages, interest in bioenergy is growing around the world. Its production is booming, particularly in developing countries.
However, there is empirical evidence and growing concerns that these trends can negatively affect both rural populations and the environment. It may increase competition for fertile land and water, jeopardise local land rights and access to land, thus threatening local food security. On the positive side, biofuels projects can trigger investment in the agricultural sectors of developing countries, increase rural energy supply and create employment. Therefore, net impacts on climate change can be both positive or negative depending on production and processing systems.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels
The draft guidelines have been pilot-tested in 6 locations on 3 continents. The results of these pilot-tests will allow revision of the guidelines to be conducted and the final version to be issued in mid-2012. On the basis of these guidelines, operators that apply for certification will have to demonstrate how they can mitigate any potential negative effects on food security. In food insecure regions, they will have to implement complementary measures that enhance local food security for the directly affected populations. With regard to land rights, operators have to assess, document and establish both formal and informal land rights and prove that they respect these rights. Moreover, they must not use any land until any legitimate dispute has been settled through free, prior and informed consent.RSB sets a benchmark
In comparison with other commodity standards, RSB defines more specifically what a food insecure region is, or what a legitimate dispute over land rights actually means. As such, certification will be based on clearly verifiable indicators, which makes auditing less arbitrary and more robust. It is expected that the new RSB guidelines will set a benchmark on how to tackle food security and land-rights issues in commodity standards.
|The project in brief
Agriculture and rural development
Roundtable on Sustainable Bioenergy (RSB)
Existing commodity standards do not sufficiently address land governance and food security issues.
Strengthening food security and land rights issues in the RSB standard by developing implementing guidelines. This will establish a consistent certification process and provide operators with clear guidance on how to comply with standard requirements.
Direct: bioenergy producers and processors looking for certification.
Indirect: rural communities in areas where biofuels are sourced from policy-makers in agriculture and energy
15.2.2011 – 31.5.2012