With mandatory carbon footprinting on the horizon, GLOBALG.A.P.’s Impact-Driven Approach (IDA) to the Sustainability module is helping the floriculture industry prepare for this new dawn.
This summer’s heatwave in Europe is a sobering reminder of our climate crisis. And as countries worldwide wake up to this crisis and agree to achieve climate neutrality, the need for businesses to assess their carbon footprints is noticeably increasing.
This autumn, for instance, the EU is set to adopt the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). This common reporting framework will require companies to detail the impact of their businesses on the environment and human rights. Initially focussing on larger companies (with small- and medium-sized firms following suit), it is expected to be rolled out over the next few years.
Observing this changing business landscape, the internationally recognised farm assurance scheme, GLOBALG.A.P., responded to it in 2020 by launching its Impact-Driven Approach (IDA) to Sustainability standards in Flowers and Ornamentals.
Juan Carlos Isaza, GLOBALG.A.P.’s senior technical expert for floriculture, notes: “The importance of measuring has been steadily growing within the sustainability movement. With due diligence in mind, people said there’s a need for metrics. GLOBALG.A.P. was already on its way to developing Version 6 of its family of standards, which is much more outcome-based and for which it was already foreseen to include metrics to facilitate demonstration of improvements and identify the impact of its new standards.”
“And because floriculture was such an advanced sector, it was the first to take flight. We could develop the sector’s IDA quickly because we already had an environmental registration (record-keeping) strategy within the international Floriculture Sustainability Initiative (FSI). And we also had existing models in the sector to draw inspiration from, such as MPS-ABC, Kenya Flower Code and Florverde Sustainable Flowers.”
With sustainability coming to the fore, more and more horticulture producers are choosing to enter the IDA programme. The module sees growers collect (and then submit) input consumption data that ultimately help them improve their farming efficiency and, therefore, their environmental credentials. The data collected includes measurements on plant protection products, fertilisers (nitrogen and phosphorus), water and energy.
The data is then sent to GLOBALG.A.P. for processing and returned to growers through historical trend graphs and comparison reports. If they choose to, producers can compare their input consumption data against similar growers (according to region, crop, and growing conditions).
Isaza asserts: “With more than 200,000 growers under GLOBALG.A.P. certification in over 135 countries, GLOBALG.A.P. is well-placed to encourage the collection of such data and create a strong flow of information.”
Sarah von Fintel, key account manager for the consumer GGN label floriculture, notes: “Retailers are requesting more information/metrics from the growers, and this is one of the reasons why the IDA was created. Retailers want to see, for example, that their suppliers are using pesticides responsibly or optimising their water use.”
“It’s also interesting for the growers to compare their farm’s inputs to others and see where they are. It can help give them an idea of what areas they could improve upon – or if there is anything they are doing particularly well.”
Part of the IDA’s popularity is undoubtedly due to its flexibility. For growers, the module can either build on the GLOBALG.A.P.’s existing Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA) standard for flowers and ornamentals as an add-on, or it can simply be a smaller, independent standard on its own or in combination with a different farm assurance scheme. Helpfully, GLOBALG.A.P. recognises other benchmark schemes and works with some 160 certification bodies worldwide.
Whilst some producers may take a little while to adjust to using their farm management systems to collect input consumption data, Isaza highlights that GLOBALG.A.P. members are accustomed to record-keeping.
Keeping records, he notes, has always been a central part of GLOBALG.A.P.’s farm assurance scheme. Isaza explains that the organisation began its journey as EUREPGAP in 1997 after the UK’s ‘Mad Cow Disease’ epidemic had shaken the trust of consumers in the food sector. To that end, GLOBALG.A.P. (EUREPGAP) was, in its earlier years, primarily focused on food safety, product quality and plant health. The standard for Flowers and Ornamentals was launched in 2002. Today, more than 200,000 producers in 134 countries are GLOBALG.A.P. certified.
“If there is a quality or a food safety issue with a product, you need to be able to return to the farm and identify what, when and where the issue happened. So, there has always been a strong element of supply chain traceability in the standard,” explains Isaza.
Two decades later, such issues remain vital – but sustainability is also a new focus. The creation of the IDA was a natural progression for the organisation, which is continually evolving.
Isaza says: “We are constantly looking into what is happening in the world and seeing how best we can respond to it. How does this change affect, or fit into, our sector? And what should our role be?”
Undoubtedly, the GLOBALG.A.P. team is doing its utmost to ensure that the worldwide floriculture industry responds to our changing world and prepares the floriculture sector for the future.