Ecuador puts deforestation-free and sustainable production first

26 January 2021 - Quito, Ecuador - Ecuador’s efforts to achieve a deforestation-free and sustainable production model are a beacon to other nations and stakeholders proving that inclusive economic growth and the conservation of the environment can be a mutually supportive and harmonized process. Yet, this challenge requires the coordination of various sectors under a collective vision to to improve production systems and livelihoods and prioritise quality products with high socio-environmental integrity.

“Adopting measures against climate change is a responsibility that concerns and involves all of us, and the actions carried out by Ecuador show that the country has a deep commitment and the necessary will to implement policies to mitigate the effects of climate change and stop deforestation,” United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative Matilde Mordt mentioned as the country presented a new milestone on January 26, 2021.

As part of the joint efforts made by the private and public sector, and civil society, an inter-ministerial agreement was signed between Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment and Water, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, and its Agency for the Regulation and Control of Phytosanitary and Animal Health (Agrocalidad), to implement a “Deforestation-Free Certification for Agricultural and Livestock Production”. This groundbreaking agreement links the visions of these government agencies, and integrates their environmental policies and regulations;  with the aim of strengthening the productive chain for the commercialization of high quality sustainable products with full participation of producers and private companies.

“The initiative responds to a new trend in the consumption of agricultural goods, where markets not only demand quality products, but also require knowing that the products they consume are produced in harmony with the planet, with the communities and with the natural resources of its environment. These actions are vital because after all they will change many lives,” the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Xavier Lazo stated.

The agreement sets the national definition of deforestation-free production and mandates the development of technical regulations for its certification; as well as the incorporation of this model into agricultural and livestock sector. The certification that will allow deforestation-free products to enter specialty markets that demand quality, environmental and social integrity, and avoidance of the deforestation of primary forests and the expansion of the agricultural frontier; all which will promote the well-being of producers and communities.

Furthermore, the agreement marks an important step in advancing a national strategy that promotes a productive transformation based on two fundamental pillars, sustainability and product quality, which allows Ecuador to position itself to uniquely serve national and international demand.

Through the Premium & Sustainable brand, launched in 2019, Ecuador has set out to consciously transform the traditional agricultural and agro-industrial production model into a sustainable one that contributes to mitigate the effects of climate change in accordance with the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The certification of deforestation-free agricultural and livestorck production underpins and boosts the legitimacy of this brand.

To generate demand for the Sustainable and Premium brand at the regional, national, and international level Ecuador’s  PROAmazonia is working in partnership with the European Forest Institute (EFI) and international private companies such as Lavazza, Olam, UNOCACE, ECOLAC, and Latitud 0. These actors are promoting knowledge transfer to local producers, strengthening productivity and establishing commercial alliances to enter international specialty markets. Local producer associations are key stakeholders in this transformation process, including the Federation of Small Organic Agricultural Exporters of the Southern Ecuadorian Amazon (APEOSAE), Association of Coffee Growers of the Mayo River Basin (ACRIM), Aromas del Sur Cocoa and Derivatives Production Association (ASOPROMAS), and the Agro-Artisan Association of Ecological Producers (APECAP).

“Protecting our forests implies a great responsibility and effort and with joint forces we will be able to improve our production, environment and living conditions. That is why we ratify our commitment to deforestation-free sustainable production and the conservation and restoration of ecosystems and biodiversity” President of the Association of Coffee Growers of the Mayo River Basin, Pedro Abad said.

Ecuador’s inter-ministerial agreement on Deforestation-Free Certification for Agricultural and Livestock Production represents another significant milestone by a pioneer REDD+ country. Ecuador has benefitted from National Programme and technical assistance support from UNDP, through the UN-REDD Programme since 2012, support that enabled Ecuador to implement its national REDD+ strategy and complete all the requirements receive REDD+ RBPs. At present, UNDP technical assistance continues to support Ecuador’s delivery of the ProAmazonia ‘Sustainable & Premium’ strategy.

From a comprehensive perspective, all stakeholders involved in the implementation of REDD+ mechanism in Ecuador are working to promote deforestation-free sustainable production and forest conservation in the amazon region. These efforts are not only aligned with the national sustainable development agenda and strong environmental policies focused on reducing deforestation and forest degradation but also are based on inclusiveness in all the production chain.

As a pioneer in the region, Ecuador will continue its commitment to become a benchmark in models of deforestation-free and sustainable production, considering social, environmental and economic factors, urging that all stakeholders jointly promote sustainable development and, at the same time, responsible natural resource management models.