9 December 2016

Proforest contributes to flagship Sustainable Sugarcane Conference


Proforest contributes to flagship Sustainable Sugarcane Conference

The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders in the sugar value chain to discuss the commercial opportunities and practicalities of implementing sustainability and ethical initiatives. It was hosted by Bonsucro and the Innovation Forum, and formed part of the wider Bonsucro Week – a week dedicated to accelerating change in the sugarcane industry.

The two-day conference consisted of a variety of practical working groups and interactive plenary sessions. Delegates explored issues ranging from transparency and traceability, through human rights, smallholder farmers, to environmental pressures and demand for biofuels and ethanol.

On day one, Proforest ’s Erin Logan moderated a session on the occupational health risks of working in low paid agriculture. The session considered the risks that exist principally in manually harvested cane origins, such as heat stress, chronic dehydration and exposure to toxins, and how these can best be managed on the ground.

The panel highlighted the importance of integrating factors such as water, rest and shade into labour standards, and discussed the benefits of improving working practices, such as increased productivity. Whilst examples of improved practices already exist, it was agreed that the challenge is to share and scale up these improvements and to ensure that the impacts are monitored effectively.

On the second day, Erin participated in the concluding session, which sought to identify key themes from the conference that could be easily communicated at the workplace. Capacity building and shared learning featured strongly, as well as improved landscape-level collaboration.

The conference closed with targets being set that aim to raise the profile of certification locally. In doing so, it is hoped to both encourage innovations in local leadership, and to create a platform for change enablers. The success of these targets will be determined next year when the Sustainable Sugarcane Conference takes place once again.

Proforest provides consultancy services to stakeholders across the sugarcane industry to help them understand their environmental and social impacts and develop and implement responsible sourcing policies and guidelines.

For more information about the Sustainable Sugar Conference, contact You can also listen to Innovation Forum’s publishing director Ian Welsh review the Sustainable Sugarcane Conference with Bonsucro CEO Simon Usher.

To find out more about our work with sugar, visit our commodities page.