Ecuador’s efforts to achieve a deforestation-free and sustainable production model are a beacon to other nations and stakeholders, proving that economic growth and environmental conservation can be a mutually supportive and harmonized process. Yet, these efforts require the coordination of various sectors under a collective vision to improve production systems and livelihoods and to 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,” said Matilde Mordt, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative.
A groundbreaking agreement, signed in January, 2021, 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), will implement a “Deforestation-Free Certification for Agricultural and Livestock Production.” This milestone initiative aims to strengthen the productive chain for the commercialization of high-quality sustainable products with full participation from 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 natural resources and with communities. These actions are vital because after all they will change many lives,” said, Xavier Lazo, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock.
The agreement establishes a national definition of deforestation-free production and mandates the development of technical regulations for certification, as well as for the incorporation of this model into the agricultural and livestock sector. Certification will allow deforestation-free products to enter specialty markets that demand quality, environmental and social integrity, and avoidance of primary forest deforestation.
Furthermore, the agreement marks an important step in advancing a national strategy that promotes sustainability and product quality, allowing Ecuador to position itself to uniquely serve national and international demand.
Through the Premium & Sustainable brand, launched in 2019, Ecuador set out to consciously transform the traditional agricultural and agro-industrial production model into a sustainable one that mitigates the effects of climate change, in accordance with the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The certification of deforestation-free agricultural and livestock production underpins and boosts the legitimacy of this brand.
To generate demand for the Premium & Sustainable brand at the regional, national, and international level, Ecuador’s PROAmazonia is working in partnership with the European Forest Institute (EFI) and private companies such as Lavazza, Olam, UNOCACE, ECOLAC and Latitud 0. Together, the partners are promoting knowledge transfer to local producers, strengthening productivity and establishing commercial alliances to enter into 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’ve ratified our commitment to deforestation-free, sustainable production and to the conservation and restoration of ecosystems and biodiversity,” said Pedro Abad, President of the Association of Coffee Growers of the Mayo River Basin.
Ecuador’s inter-ministerial agreement also represents another significant milestone by an early partner country to the UN-REDD Programme. Ecuador has benefitted from National Programme and technical assistance support from UN-REDD Programme partner agencies since 2012, support that enabled Ecuador to implement its national REDD+ strategy and complete all the requirements to receive REDD+ RBPs. At present, UN-REDD technical assistance continues to support Ecuador’s delivery of the ProAmazonia Sustainable & Premium strategy.
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 they also mark Ecuador as a pioneer in the region, with its commitment to developing models of deforestation-free and sustainable production.
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