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COSA News & Updates
Africa: Sustainability Certifications - Working Better Than You Think
Center for Environmental Law and Policy
COSA global launch with 3 events at Rio+20 - The UN Conference on Sustainable Development
With more than 100 heads of state already confirmed and the host government of Brazil expecting fifty thousand people, Rio+20 is a major once-each-decade event that will be, in the words of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, "one of the most important conferences in the history of the United Nations and a once-in-a-generation opportunity to gear the world on sustainable development path".
Daniele Giovannucci will be speaking at the following events:
COSA introduces new Director of Research
We are pleased to announce that Nicola Francesconi is the new Director of Research for the Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA). Nicola has advanced methods of action-oriented research to evaluate agricultural development in developing countries. His research skills blend experimental and non-experimental impact assessment as well as organizational and value chains diagnostics.
Dr. Francesconi previously led field research in several African countries for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and is the founder of the IFPRI-Dakar Stakeholder Group.
A respected scholar for his award-winning research, he regularly addresses international conferences and is fluent in English, Italian and French. His most recent publication is: "Ethiopian Agricultural Cooperatives in an Era of Global Commodity Exchange: Does Organizational Form Matter?" (Journal of African Economies)
New and now available online:
On our current trajectory, severe disruptions to national and regional food systems are highly likely to happen - the main question is when. Exposing unforeseen areas of consensus - with contributions from more than 70 global agri-food leaders in the business, policy, green, and social arenas - the report lays out concrete steps for sustainable and resilient food and agriculture systems. By opening the silos of partisan thinking to invite reasoned discussion, it also exposes areas of disagreement and advances a key set of specific "high impact" areas where smart decisions will make the most difference.
COSA Interesting Fact … do sustainability certifications affect education?
There is a great advantage to knowing how to collect the right information in the right way. The typical education question asks if children are attending school (see Figure 1). When that question was asked of many different producers certified to four different certifications (A, B, C, D), the response, across both the certified and control groups, is typically, but not always, ‘yes’ (yielding results ranging from 71-95%).
However, when determined (not just by asking) whether children are attending ‘the grade level that is appropriate for their age’, the results are very different (See Figure 2). In this case, the positive, or ‘yes’, results range from 18-61%.
It then becomes clear that, in some cases, although children are indeed registered to attend school, they may not be attending regularly enough to obtain a sufficient education.
Good metrics provide useful results.
COSA Technical and Scientific Sessions, Stockholm, Sweden
The Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA) held annual Technical and Scientific Sessions in Stockholm, Sweden on October 18-19, 2011. A select group of COSA partners and world-renowned scientists gathered to share global learning on measuring sustainable practices and to advance COSA approaches. This two-day meeting focused on COSA database advances, field methods, survey questions, and indicators. A draft agenda is available online at: http://sustainablecommodities.org/cosa/Stockholm
After the Harvest: Fighting Hunger in the Coffeelands
In a recent survey of small-scale coffee farmers in Mexico, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, over 67% indicated they were unable to maintain their normal diet for 3-8 months of the year. These are "Los Meses Flacos," or the thin months, when families make ends meet by eating less, eating less expensive foods, or borrowing against their future earnings from coffee. While incredibly complex, recent work suggests it is not unsolvable.
"After the Harvest: Fighting Hunger in the Coffeelands" is a film that brings the day-to-day challenges of the thin months to life in the voices of coffee farmers themselves, and shares the successes of creative projects that have been established to eliminate this annual period of food insecurity.
You can view this 20-minute film at: aftertheharvestorg.blogspot.com
COSA Interesting Fact ...
The amount of time women spend on a crop differ among different sustainability certifications. This can have different implications. Where there is an increase in the already high levels of women’s agricultural work, more labour may be a liability and perceived to be onerous. On the other hand, where such labour is adequately remunerated, it can present a substantial opportunity for women to participate more fully in the cash economy.
This sample includes more than a thousand surveys from Tanzania where each certification (lighter of the colours) is closely matched to very similar control groups (similar darker shade to the right) using Propensity Scoring. In one case, certification actually required less ongoing labor from women. In others it was higher.
Introduction to COSA at the Annual Development Cooperation Conference 2010, (Basel, Switzerland). Watch the following Youtube clips of Daniele Giovannucci's presentation:
Clip 1 (5:02) An introduction to the Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA)
Clip 2 (9:35) Sustainability: "You cannot manage what you cannot measure"
The conference included the following plenary presentations:
For more information on the conference, please visit the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation website.
Fourth Terra Madra Conference/Salone del Gusto (Turin, Italy)
Part of COSA's broad application to the issue of food security was highlighted at the recent ‘Fourth Terra Madre conference' in Turin, Italy where 6000 attendees heard a leading team of scholars address and debate ‘sustainability and food policies' for a sustainable food future developed over the course of the conference. Daniele Giovannucci of the Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA) (fourth from the left in the photo below) was part of the panel and addressed "laws, rights and policies".
The inspiring panel at the closing ceremony of Terra Madre was led by eight leading thinkers from around the world:
Click here for more information on the Fourth Terra Madra conference.
COSA: First Findings of a Global Language for Measuring Sustainability. Watch an excerpt from a presentation by Daniele Giovannucci at the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Exhibition in Anaheim, California (April 2010).
First COSA Field Report Published - Successful Pilots Complete in Five Countries
COSA partners IISD, CATIE, INCAE/(CIMS) and CIRAD completed the application of COSA in 5 countries. Dozens of farms applying various sustainability initiatives were tested in Costa Rica, Honduras, Kenya, Nicaragua and Peru. The lessons learned are being incorporated into the current Methodology so that COSA is even more adaptable to diverse field and farm conditions.
The ability to apply COSA as a management tool that assesses the impacts of sustainability efforts is becoming a valuable asset and is being incorporated into several sustainability initiatives themselves as they seek improved ways to measure and monitor their efforts.
Expands Global Reach - From Coffee to Cocoa
Funding has been approved and partners selected include the Department of
Agriculture's Extension Division, Tanzanian
Coffee Research Institute (TACRI), The Sokoine University, and several
leading cooperative groups. First steps are to adapt the tool with the participation
of local stakeholders and then to apply it broadly to both arabica and robusta
production. Tanzania also has other 'sustainably produced' crops, so COSA intends
to test its sustainable farm management tool with some such as cotton.
Colombia National Coffee Growers Federation has chosen to roll out the
COSA tools for farmers in Colombia and is in the process of arranging that
effort under the umbrella of CRECE (Centro de Estudios Regionales, Cafeteros
y Empresariales) one of the nation's most respected research centers.
Project Supports COSA - New Partnership Formed
SCAN will be implemented at the national level through National Platforms made up of local government, industry, NGOs, research agencies, and producer groups to provide a coordinated and targeted support system dedicated to building sustainable producer enterprises at the field level - particularly among smallholders.
With field networks around the world, SCAN provides an invaluable platform for applying the systems and findings developed in COSA. COSA can aid producers and policymakers in determining effective sustainable farm management strategies within the context of SCAN's broader business facilitation framework- leveraging the knowledge and resources of national and international expertise and resources. Pilot work under SCAN is currently being planned for application to coffee in Tanzania, Peru, and Honduras; and the cocoa sector in Ghana and Indonesia.
Key actors involved to date include:
• Standard-Setters - IFOAM, Fairtrade, Utz
SCAN is a project of the Sustainable Commodity Initiative (SCI).