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Keynote Speech presents innovative Guide for Integrating Sustainability in the Private Sector

San Salvador, El Salvador. July 11, 2019.
  • The activities, led by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) under the Resilient Central America project (ResCA), were conducted in the 7 th edition of the Socially Responsible and Sustainable Business Week hosted by FUNDEMAS.
  • The objective is to move the corporate and producer environment towards sustainable models and healthy agricultural systems that will simultaneously generate economic, social, and environmental benefits.

San Salvador, El Salvador. July 11, 2019. – From the framework outlined in the 7th edition of the Socially Responsible and Sustainable Business Week, organized by the Businesses for Social Action Foundation (FUNDEMAS), the Guide for Integrating Sustainability in Business was published. The Guide draws from the development of workshops and conferences directed at agricultural producers, businesspeople, and civil servants with the goal of moving toward healthy agricultural systems that will confront the challenges of climate change.

The activities were directed by The Nature Conservancy, an international organization and conservation leader, under the umbrella of the Resilient Central America project (ResCA). This project is financed by the United States Department of State, whose objective since 2016 has been to contribute to food security and climate change resilience in Central America.

To that end, in the departments of Ahuachapán and Morazán in El Salvador, ResCA has worked hand in hand with agricultural producers, town governments, and the business sector with the objective of incorporating sustainability criteria and strategies in the value chain. For example, in the adoption of policy that will benefit the environment as well as public-private alliances that will increase production while maintaining the social and natural environment in balance.

These actions are essentially responding to climate change challenges. According to data from the FAO, around 2.2 million producers in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua lost their harvest due to climate events; principally a drought in 2018. As a result, in April 2019, the FAO declared that of all the producers affected, 1.4 million people will require urgent food aid.

At the same time, the World Bank calculated that between 2020 and 2050 the number of Central Americans that migrate due to climate reasons will double, moving toward an average of 1.4 to 2.1 million people. The principal sources of migrants will be from rural zones with rainfed agriculture, especially in the mountain highland areas, given the projected fall in productivity and profitability of the crops.

This context demands a strengthening of sustainable practices in distinct arenas, from the businesses to the producers.

Following this thinking, Heliosa Schneider–a TNC consultant– presented the Guide for Integrating Sustainability in Business, with its focus on models for sustainable business. The document presents a framework with six key steps for companies to include social, environmental, and economic benefits into their guiding axis to reach sustainability. The presented globally recognized principles and standards provide a way to rethink the purpose of a business.

“Far from being a cost, being sustainable is a catalyst for innovation and creates new market opportunities and augments the competitiveness of a company,” said Heloisa Schneider. She added “To speak about a company that is socially responsible and sustainable is to speak about a company whose foundation is managing for the future.”

Through offering more possibilities for long-term future growth, the socially responsible business will take on more importance as it becomes seen as an asset for investors, consumers, and business models. As proof, in 2011 only 20% of international level companies published reports including social responsibility. In 2017, the amount had risen to 85%, according to the Governance and Accountability Institute.

To attend to the needs of the agricultural sector, the motor of the Salvadorian economy and one of the areas most threatened by climate change, ResCa conducted workshops and conferences with civil servants, agricultural producers, and businesspeople. The objective was to promote sustainable practices that, beyond increasing the quantity and quality of production, would generate greater access to markets and an improved quality of life for the population, while conserving natural resources and promoting social inclusion.

The agricultural sector demands priority attention considering that 50% of farmland now has degraded soils and one third of global greenhouse gases originate from agriculture in Latin America. This situation will be exacerbated by population growth, which will increase the caloric demand from crops by 53%–and when combined with climate change impacts–will threaten food security.

Horacio Rodríguez Vázquez, ResCA Regional Coordinator for TNC, highlighted in his presentation “climate change resilience is a profitable investment to prevent future loses. If we invest 6 billion in climate change resilience, the potential savings could be 360 billion, due to avoided loses associated with climate risks.”

Given the urgency, ResCA is investing almost 10 million dollars to promote healthy agricultural systems that recognize the future value of soils and through actions that will benefit habitat restoration, water security, climate resilience, and improved public policy instruments in terms of both productivity and environment in Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and at a regional level with SICA.

Climate change resilience is a profitable investment to prevent future loses. If we invest six billion in climate change resilience, the potential savings could be 360 billion, due to avoided loses associated with climate risks

Horacio Rodríguez Vázquez, General Coordinator of ResCa at TNC

TheBusinesses for Social Action Foundation(FUNDEMAS) is a not for profit organization founded on May 25, 2000 by a group of businesspeople, in the Salvadorian business sector, that saw the need to establish an organization dedicated to promoting the adoption of values, policy, and practices of RSE to achieve business competitiveness, economic development, and social sustainability in El Salvador.  FUNDEMAS promotes the adoption of RSE with the seven principals of the ISO 26000 Standard: organizational governance, human rights, labor practices, just operation practices, consumer issues, active participation and environment, and community development. For more information, visit https://fundemas.orgy and follow FUNDEMAS on social media. Twitter @FUNDEMAS and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/fundemas.

 

Resilient Central America (ResCA) is an initiative seeking to improve the livelihoods of farmers, ranchers, and fishers in Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, at a regional level in collaboration with the Central American Integration System (SICA). The initiative works with producers, researchers, and both the public and private sectors to develop healthy and productive ecosystems that are resilient to climate change, conserve natural resources that sustain food production, and strengthen local economies. It is a four-year program financed by the United States Department of State, organized by the AgroLAC 2025 multi-donation platform, and led by The Nature Conservancy. For more information, visit www.centroamericaresiliente.org follow us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ResilienteCA/) and Twitter at @ResilienteCA

 

Contacto para medios

Jesse Festa Tel: (+52.55) 4042-9225 , Email :jesse.festa@tnc.org

Horacio Rodríguez, Coordinador General de ResCA, Email: h.rodriguezvazquez@tnc.org

Tarssis Dessavre, Tel: (+52.55)  5442.4642 ext. 26 , Email: tdo@proa.structura.com.mx

Luis Cerón , ResCA FUNDEMAS, Email: luis.ceron@fundemas.org