NDPE Sugar Initiative
The No Deforestation and No People Exploitation (NDPE) Sugar Initiative’s (the 'Initiative') ambition is to make sugarcane production environmentally sustainable and to improve the livelihoods of the people involved in producing sugar.
As part of our commitment to sustainability, we have set clear milestones to drive progress and acknowledge achievements along our journey.
Integral to this Initiative is the development of strong, long-term partnerships with our suppliers and buyers, while simultaneously embracing sustainability tools and programmes currently in use today.
Working in Partnership with Our Supply Chain
We started this journey in 2021 with the development of the Wilmar NDPE Sugar policy, built around a firm commitment to work in partnership with our buyers and suppliers to improve sugarcane production for both people and the environment.
The initial phase of work focuses on sugar mills in important sourcing regions. We are working progressively to cascade and implement the principles of NDPE Sugar through the various actors in our supply chain, which in turn will drive lasting improvements in sustainability.
A Stepwise Approach
Core to our approach is the traceability mapping of our sugar sourcing to understand the full extent of the supply chain and to gain visibility to origin. This entails mapping out all the mills supplying our refineries, as well as their sugarcane sources. For a mill to be considered traceable, we require specific information to be available, such as (1) mill name, (2) mill address, (3) GPS coordinates, and (4) volumes supplied to the refineries. Therefore, while some quantities may be categorised as untraceable, this does not imply the origin of the sugar is necessarily unknown, but rather that the untraceable volumes did not meet the full criteria for traceability.
Raising Awareness through the Supply Chain
- Understanding suppliers’ progress
With our sources of supply identified, the next step in our approach is to engage mill suppliers. An annual supplier assessment campaign is rolled out to all our suppliers through Wilmar’s proprietary online Supplier Reporting Tool (SRT) . The SRT, which is hosted on the OnConnect platform and free to use for all our suppliers, allows mills to report their current status and mark their progress against the environmental and social principles covered under our NDPE Sugar policy. On submission of their responses through the SRT, an assessment report is automatically generated for suppliers with an overall risk scoring as well as a list of potential impact areas for further engagement with suppliers. The SRT has been successfully implemented within Wilmar’s palm oil supply base since 2017.
- Risk analysis & prioritisation for engagement
The SRT assessment report rates our suppliers based on their responses across different principles, with action plans built into the system to flag out potential solutions for identified gaps. Suppliers are then screened by a proprietary risk matrix that identifies and prioritises suppliers that may require further engagement. Engagement for these identified suppliers includes site verification visits to evaluate the practices of our suppliers and provides us with the opportunity to develop action plans through an on-the-ground dialogue with suppliers’ teams.
Action and Improvement
Implementation and progress will then be monitored and evaluated based on the action plans generated from annual updates of the SRT assessment reports. Progress is expected to extend from the mill to the farmer supply base and our focus will be on key issues relevant to cane cultivation and harvesting.
The SRT assessment reports will enable supplier support programmes to be rolled out by us to specific mill suppliers (or groups of suppliers) based on priority and need, as measured by the SRT’s overall risk score.
Under the Initiative, pathways and timelines will be developed in order to engage and support as many of the mills, farmers and other stakeholders in our supply chains as possible to effectively drive and track progress against achieving the principles of NDPE Sugar.
Actors in our supply chains will be engaged through this process with the greatest proportion of our efforts and resources dedicated to suppliers in origins positioned to benefit the most from the support of the Initiative to improve sugarcane production, both for the environment and for people.
At present traceability claims are available for sugar refineries that use the sugar supplied from mill suppliers via Wilmar. Refineries that wish to be part of the Initiative can contact us at WIL-NDPESugar@sg.wilmar-intl.com for more information.
The importance for mills to be able to share their progress through claims is well-recognised and will be developed in parallel to our engagement with mills.
In the near future, mills will also be able to share their progress in the NDPE Sugar Initiative through mill-level claims. This is currently in the process of being developed and will be rolled out in due course.
Milestones - What it means for the refinery
Signing up to the NDPE Sugar Initiative demonstrates a commitment of the refinery to the ambition of making sugarcane production environmentally sustainable and to improving the livelihoods of the people involved.
It also demonstrates a willingness of the refinery to take the necessary steps to have more traceable and transparent supply chains and to engage in dialogue and action with mill suppliers.
Traceability to mill is an essential step for the refinery to understand the cane origin and to identify the potential social and environmental risks and challenges in the sugarcane supply bases. This is also the first step for refineries in engaging and building the relationships with the mills who will be key and active participants in this journey. In order to achieve this milestone, the threshold to meet traceability to mill level is set at 85% at the minimum.
This milestone creates the base from which we can work towards making sugarcane production environmentally sustainable and improving the livelihoods of the people involved.
Refineries will need to have traceability systems in place which allow them to provide regular and transparent mill lists.
The process of raising awareness of the importance of protecting forests, people, and communities, whilst also promoting progress in operational efficiencies and best practice will not only be through the sharing of the NDPE Sugar policy (2021) by the refinery but also through the roll-out of a self-reporting tool to the mills from which the refinery is sourcing.
The mill self-assessments combined with third-party expert knowledge of sugarcane production regions and risks will enable open and transparent dialogue with the mills in order to then move forward to agreeing steps for taking action and identifying areas for improvement.
Through engagement with the mills using the self-reporting tool and additional dialogue, gaps and opportunities for improvement will be identified. From this, action plans can be developed with clear targets, timelines and responsibilities which will lead to improvement.
Refineries will be able to demonstrate that they have reached this milestone once their supplying mills have been engaged as per Milestone 2 and a significant proportion of their mill supply base have reached this level and have robust action plans in place.
The NDPE Initiative will identify opportunities for provision of capacity building and training to mills and their supply bases and where appropriate the development of collaborative partnerships of supply chain actors to enhance potential for improvement.
Monitoring and reporting on progress will be important to demonstrate where there have been successes and where further attention is required.
Refineries will be able to demonstrate that they have reached this milestone once a significant proportion of their mill supply base are able to demonstrate progress.
Mill level progress will be shown through implementation of their action plans, including active engagement with their supply bases, roll-out of social and environmental programmes and the use of certification and verification schemes, including those that have been benchmarked against the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative's Farm Sustainability Assessment (SAI FSA) as Silver or Gold.
Delivering on commitments will mean that significant progress and achievement in addressing the core principles of the NDPE Sugar policy; and improvements against Principle 3 (Enhancing Operational Practices); have been made by the refinery’s mill supply base.
This may be through the use of certification and verification schemes, or progress delivered through implementation of action plans and corresponding social and environmental programmes. This is an ambitious milestone seeking to promote improvements across the wider sugarcane supply bases.