RSB Version 1.0. Food security guidelines

Sep 2012

The Energy Centre at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) is coordinating a multi-stakeholder effort, the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB), to develop international standards for sustainable biofuels production and processing and a certification system for the same. These Guidelines and Toolkit for Assessment and Mitigation of Food Security Impacts of Biofuels have been developed to enable feedstock farmers and biofuel producers and processors wishing to acquire RSB certification. They have been written to help operators comply in particular with Principle 6, see below.
The guidelines must be used in association with the RSB principles, criteria and indicators. The food security principle focuses on local and regional impacts on food security of biofuel producers and processors, who might, for instance, use food, or land which could be used to grow food, to produce biofuels. At this point, indirect impacts that may be felt on food prices from far afield of the biofuel production seeking accreditation cannot be assessed accurately enough to be included in the current standard. In time, however, guidelines for these impacts may be added to the standard. For now, biofuel production will be assessed on the basis of the impacts that the particular operation seeking accreditation may have on food security; it will be based on actions within their own direct influence.
The current principle and criteria of the RSB standard on food security is summarised as follows:
‘Biofuel production shall not impair food security and shall ensure the right to food
Criterion 6a: Risks to food security for people in the region and in the locality of the biofuel operation shall be assessed and any potential negative impacts resulting from the operations shall be mitigated;
Criterion 6b: In food insecure regions, biofuel producers shall demonstrate a commitment to enhancing local food security’.
The draft food security principle focuses on local and regional impacts on food security of biofuel producers and processors, who might, for instance, use food or land which could be used to grow food to produce biofuels, or use feedstock that would ordinarily enter in to the local food market. .
This document provides an easy-to-use toolkit that farmers, producers and food security assessment professionals can use to assess compliance with this principle. The guidelines contained in this document provide information on risk assessment, mitigation of any risks, and strategies to enhance local food security.
Biofuels producers are encouraged to understand and assess the risk to their operations that food security may create. There is much being made in the media of this risk, and while individual biofuels producers are relatively powerless to have much impact on large global scale impacts, they can avoid risk to their own operations and impacts on the local communities affected by their own operations. These risks are not merely that the local people are food insecure but that this food insecurity will result in a backlash to the biofuels development or biofuels in general. Government may withdraw permits based on community distress, communities could make operations unworkable. It is thus in the interest of biofuel producers to adequately deal with the risks that their own operations may pose. This principle is targeted at areas where food security is demonstrated to be an issue, but it also deals with improving food security where this is seen to be a significant issue. Enhancement of food security is seen to be a local requirement, as the risk to any biofuel operation may increase if it is surrounded by a community where food insecurity is a big issue. The section in these guidelines that deals with mitigation can be used as guidelines for enhancing food security in the locality or “foodshed” of the operations.

By: Rountable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB)

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