São Paulo, 6 August 2020 –  Nearly 60 representatives of the private sector, government, financial institutions and non-governmental organizations who are involved in commercial soy supply chains, have come together to affirm their support for “payment for environmental services” as a mechanism to advance the global transition to deforestation-free soy supply chains. The issue is currently being discussed by Brazil’s senate.

The experts and leaders met virtually on 30 July at an event facilitated by the Tropical Forest Alliance, a global multistakeholder partnership platform, hosted at the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, which supports private-sector forest-positive collective action to remove deforestation from their palm oil, beef, cocoa, soy and paper/pulp supply chains.

Photo: © Victor Moriyama

The concept of “payment for environmental services” allows for a producer to be remunerated for the preservation of native forests on their property, which increases their potential income. In this way, the mechanism is designed to realize both conservation and economic benefits.

As such, this mechanism has the potential to play a very important role in the proposal to expand soy into open areas, while protecting the Brazilian Cerrado and the Amazon from any possibility of deforestation associated with soy production.

The Tropical Forest Alliance facilitated this stakeholder meeting as part of its ongoing global role in facilitating dialogue and collective action among all public and private players involved in the production, investment and commercialization of commodities such as soy, beef, palm oil cocoa and paper/pulp.  Through this forest-positive agenda, partners are developing new business opportunities that are deforestation-free.

“Payment for Environmental Services can be a turning point, a shift towards truly sustainable agribusiness, as it is a field of convergence capable of uniting diverse interests and bringing significant results in terms of reducing carbon emissions and deforestation ”, commented Fabíola Zerbini, Tropical Forest Alliance Regional Director for Latin America.

In Brazil, Bill No. 3791/2019, provides for the National Policy for Payment for Environmental Services. Already approved by Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies, it is currently pending in the Federal Senate. It would systematize the performance of the “public power” in relation to environmental services. It was in this context that the concept of payment for environmental services emerged, made explicit by Article 41 of Brazil’s Forest Code. The regulation of the Article 41 is added to the Forest + Program of the Ministry of the Environment to provide, altogether, the legal security necessary for the entire supply chain of sustainable agribusiness, including producers, buyers, financiers and environmentalists.

Whether the bill is approved by the federal government or not, payment for environmental services initiatives are already being implemented by a growing number of companies and government institutions. For example, the Bayer Carbon Program, recently announced by the German multinational company, is supported by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation and aims to assist farmers both in accessing the latest technology in data analysis and in the formation of a market for carbon.

“A positive future for the relationship between agriculture and the environment is possible based on a constructive and open dialogue between all stakeholders – and their collective action. The ‘payment for environmental services’ mechanism is a crucial element for the development and implementation of initiatives that consider forests as assets, bringing benefits to agribusiness and, at the same time, protecting the Amazon and Cerrado biomes”, concluded Fabíola Zerbini.

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