How to Identify Human Rights Risks in Production Landscapes

This podcast was originally posted on Innovation Forum here.

Rainforest Alliance and Solidaridad partnered to develop a collaboration project in the Ocosito landscape in Guatemala using the LandScale framework. LandScale – a new system for measuring sustainability at a landscape level, led by Rainforest Alliance, Verra and Conservation International – has helped to identify human rights and labour risks. They started by working to identify numerous indicators to assess the sustainability performance in the landscape, focusing particularly on human rights issues but overall it includes 4 pillars: ecosystems; human wellbeing; governance; and productions.

The human rights indicators that LandScale recognises are: child labour; women’s rights; indigenous people’s rights; forced labour; and worker rights. There was particular focus on child labour and forced labour that was found in the landscape in Guatemala. Initial scoping helped to find that there were some rights being violated in some aspects, such as retaining personal identification documents which indicated coerced labour or perhaps human trafficking.

The LandScale guidance has proved helpful in assessing situations without having direct information about the indicators. Enabling conditions of the indicators can be assessed, for example the child labour indicator can be assessed by looking at whether children are in school, and the idea is that this number should increase.

Human rights are not always given as much attention in supply chains as opposed to climate or environmental as it is a sensitive issue to be addressed. In a landscape, several companies can be certified in a sustainability scheme and have to comply with different pillars of those schemes including human rights, but outside of the production areas it is totally different. Where there is an informal market economy, these human rights issues are not being addressed as they are not as visible, so it’s not being addressed by several stakeholders including local government as there may be legal gaps to address them correctly. There is often no process to make a claim so there is limited information on complaints, and this is due to a lack of governance.

LandScale empowers all stakeholders in the field, not just companies and governments. Conditions and collaboration can be improved by identifying the common goals of all the different stakeholders within a landscape, that helps to organise and inspire efforts. Fundamentally, it is a tool to measure but also to communicate progress. By being able to make credible claims, it will be possible to reach out to impact investors to invest in the landscape and keep on conducting sustainability actions.

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