Resource Stewardship and Social Development

»» Small-town South America isn’t immediately associated with being at the forefront of innovation. Yet, the people of Guaíra in Sao Paulo, Brazil, are just that – innovators. Faced with the prospect of economic extinction, and the subsequent demise of their town, they are actively involved in ensuring the economic, social and environmental sustainability of Guaíra.

The Guaíra Sugar Refinery employs more than five per cent of the region’s population. It has always been committed to strong social and environmental practices. However, since partnering with their client Bayer, who implemented the Valore Certification Programme, they are now also spreading their ideals of sustainability to the surrounding communities. New concepts are helping these communities choose the long-term preservation of their resources over outdated, short-term profitability.

Bayer implemented Valore over a range of Brazilian agricultural products in answer to the demands of their European and other international export markets. These markets require absolute transparency and accountability. With Bayer’s mission of Science for a Better Life, Valore focuses on ensuring that companies get a certified product to market. At the same time, it follows a 3-tiered approach to sustainability. This not only focuses on economic gain but also encompasses social and environmental ideals.

Bayer places a lot of emphasis on the importance of social enterprises which improve the lives of employees and their families. This has led to the implementation of daycare centres, schools and municipal agencies in the region, thereby directly enhancing the quality of life of people in the community.

Carlos de Souza, a dedicated Security Technician, assisted his team at the Guaíra Sugar Refinery to obtain Valore Bronze Certification. In turn, the programme’s focus on employee well-being has enabled Carlos to work his way up in the company while completing his studies to become a workplace safety manager. Other benefits such as better wages, health insurance and sufficient maternity leave, also help single mothers like driver Marlei de Paula to be self-sufficient and independent.

Environmentally, the refinery has had a significant impact. Environmental Monitor, Edvaldo Gomes, says that active reforestation on the refinery’s land has resulted in the decrease of silting and soil erosion. It has also resulted in the return of several species of animals like jaguars, boars and foxes, indicating that the land truly is being restored. Training programmes with local farmers, and Edvaldo’s gift for positive persuasion, has resulted in the farmers embracing the bigger picture. Now they are enabling the land to deliver excellent produce well into the future.

Bayer’s Valore programme contributes to the second Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring zero hunger. It truly is remarkable how innovative partnerships, along with the dedication of a handful of passionate people, can snowball into the upliftment and continued existence of an entire community.