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Reducing Risk: Landscape Approaches to Sustainable Sourcing

Kissinger, G., A. Brasser, and L. Gross, 2013. Full Citation.

"The landscape approach has been championed by organisations active in the development and conservation sectors for many years, though the concept has been slow to migrate into mainstream corporate thinking. Now this report from the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative, sets out a case for companies to think about their business in landscape terms." 
- José Lopez, Executive Vice President, Operations, Nestlé S.A.

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Reducing Risk: Landscape Approaches to Sustainable Sourcing - Synthesis Report

Why are companies adopting landscape approaches? 

With a changing environmental and business landscape making the “business-as-usual model” unsustainable, companies will soon need to fully account for people and the planet to maintain profitability. While companies might see this new focus as a detriment to growth, some enterprising firms are already working with a multitude of stakeholders to increase social responsibility practices with an eye on the bottom line. Working on methods to mitigate environmental risk at not just the farm but also at the landscape level is not just good public relations, it’s good for people, planet and profit.

In Reducing Risk: Landscape Approaches to Sustainable Sourcing, the Landscapes, for People, Food, and Nature Initiative highlights best practices from among agribusinesses in their own pursuit of reducing risk. Out of an initial scope of 27 agribusinesses that are already using landscape approaches to deal with sustainability challenges, the authors chose three companies to investigate further, Starbucks, Olam International, and SABMiller, who are each taking unique proactive approaches to dealing with environmental and social risks.

What is a "landscape approach" when talking about agribusiness? 

The Landscape Approach

Through multi-stakeholder partnerships, climate finance, and regional producer support in Mexico and Indonesia, Starbucks has worked to ensure that working ethically and ecologically with local producers leads to cost reductions and a profitable pot of coffee. By looking “Beyond the Brewery”, SABMiller has been able to address operational, regulatory, and reputational risks involving water quality in Colombia and South Africa at the community level. In working with Rainforest Alliance to ensure sustainable cocoa production in Ghana, Olam International has not only been able benefit its farmers with both diversified opportunities and increased income but has also become the first company to bring climate-friendly cocoa to market.

Lansdcape approaches take sustainability beyond the farm level, where most agribusinesses focus their interventions, to the scale that includes watersheds, ecosystems, transport networks, local markets and governments, and nearby towns and cities. Only at this level can problems like water insecurity, climate change, or reputational or community engagement issues be dealt with.

What needs to change?

“We face some very complex risks along our supply chains, all connected in some way to climate change. Addressing them only at the farm level won’t work. These problems involve too many interconnected variables." 
- Chris Brett, Head of Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability, Olam International

As global change continues to heighten the vulnerability the rural poor and present ever more pressing risks to agribusinesses, the importance of using landscape approaches to address these problems will only increase. This report is the beginning of the case for a more integrated role for agribusiness in tackling the world's most pressing problems. Reducing Risk finds that companies facing water, climate, and community risks must reach beyond the farm to mitigate them. And while addressing risks is important, companies are also finding opportunities in the landscape approach to make smarter investments in key sourcing areas.

Full Citation

Kissinger, G., A. Brasser, and L. Gross, 2013. Reducing Risk: Landscape Approaches to Sustainable Sourcing. Washington, DC. EcoAgriculture Partners, on behalf of the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative.

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Full Citation

Kissinger, G., A. Brasser, and L. Gross, 2013. Reducing Risk: Landscape Approaches to Sustainable Sourcing. Washington, DC. EcoAgriculture Partners, on behalf of the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative.

Report Sections

Case StudiesSynthesis ReportScoping Study
SABMiller Case Study Synthesis Report Scoping Study
Starbucks and Conservation International Case Study
Olam and Rainforest Alliance Case Study

Press Release


This report is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

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For more information please contact one of the Business Working Group co-leader:

Lee Gross at EcoAgriculture Partners (,

John Buchanan at Conservation International ( or

Edward Millard at Rainforest Alliance ( 


  • Business Working Group: Laura Somerville and Anna Lyons (Fauna and Flora International), John Buchanan (Conservation International), Edward Millard and Jeff Milder (Rainforest Alliance), Andrea Athanas (African Wildlife Foundation), Andréanne Grimard (Solidaridad), Jeremy Haggar (University of Greenwich), Suzanne Ozment (World Resources Institute), Jorge Muñoz (World Bank), Don Seville (Sustainable Food Lab), Jesse Last (Root Capital), Lee Gross and Christine Negra (EcoAgriculture Partners), Chris Wunderlich (Sustainable Commodities Assistance Network).
  • Strategic Advisory Committee: Gail Smith (Unilever), Juan Jose Dada (International Finance Corporation), Kevin Rabinovitch (Mars Incorporated), Lisa Gaylord (Rio Tinto), Arne Cartridge (World Economic Forum), and Duncan Pollard (Nestlé).
  • Other acknowledgements: For their input to the scoping report and case studies analysis, we thank: Jan Kees Vis (Unilever), David Howson (Bacardi), Jan Willem Vosmeer (Heineken), Peter van Grinsven (Mars Incorporated), Nicolas Viart (Bonsucro), Juan Leon Mol (Ahold), Ifran Imande (Zoological Society of London), Chris Brett (Olam), Atsu Titiati (Rainforest Alliance), Eric Servat (Rainforest Alliance), Michael Godfrey (Rainforest Alliance), Tracey Gerstle (CropLife International), Anna Swaithes, Bianca Shevlin and David Grant (SABMiller), Kelly Goodejohn (Starbucks), Joanne Sonenshine and Bambi Semroc (Conservation International). For their design, layout and copyediting contributions, we thank: Louis Wertz, Rachel Friedman, Abigail Hart and Lisa Swann (EcoAgriculture Partners).

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