Impact Assessment and Performance Monitoring are necessary help ensure the desired impacts of standards, certifications, and other sustainability systems. The ability to apply relatively low-cost approaches in the many diverse countries and sectors makes it more plausible to understand the effects of standards under different conditions.
The example here illustrates how we help clients advance their understanding, create value, and deliver sustainable advantage.
Delivering Credible Information
One of the world’s fastest-growing certification standards, UTZ Certified, has repeatedly worked with COSA to better understand the results of its efforts among coffee and cocoa farmers. It was stymied in one origin where its efforts to improve farmer productivity were not generating greater yields. Since yields were the major path to the objective of greater income, this questioned the validity of the efforts in this specific situation.
Analysis showed that yields were already at a high range of efficiency and would require an inordinate investment to generate even modest increases. Applying multi-dimensional analysis, COSA systematically observed effects in other important areas and particularly the environmental outcomes. It could thus identify other contributions to the objective of greater income.
The COSA Research Partner was able to identify that the sustainability training already being offered likely resulted in a more rational use of agrochemicals (primarily fertilizers) that substantially reduced producer costs and potentially improved environmental conditions (nitrogen leaching is common in these production areas).
The effect on net income was probably greater than what could reasonably have been achieved with far greater investments to improve yields. UTZ could therefore better understand how to smartly target its work in the region in order to better allocate its resources and also optimize outcomes for participating producers.