lunes, 23 de noviembre de 2015

Friend of the month - Lucas Simons [NED]

Have your say in October... Lucas Simons from the Netherlands!
"If you trully want to transform markets you need to change the rules of the game and prevent the sector from becoming unsustainable".
By: Juan David Hernández, MBA candidate.

In October we got deeper into the sustainability certification labels topic and share insights with Lucas Simons, founder and CEO of two companies: NewForesight, a strategic consultancy company working on sustainable market transformation, and SCOPEinsight, a farmer organization assessment company that bridges the gap between professional farmer organizations, markets and sources of finance. This guy knows exactly where the gap between small farmers and big agriculture companies is but also the role of sustainability in the business. Let's go!

Florverde® Sustainable Flowers: 
Why is it important to stimulate sustainable products in global markets?

Lucas Simons: Because if we don´t, we are left with sectors and producing systems were it is only about the lowest price, cheap food and as soon as the systems only care about it, we will promote a system of rewards of unsustainable behaviour so the farmer who cuts the rainforest or uses child labour gets the business. We are getting undesired side effects because we are rewarding the wrong behaviour and we are punishing the right behaviour. The biggest questions that we have to answer as stakeholders in agriculture are: what is important? what is is the quality? what is the value? how do we recognize it? how do we measure it? how do we value it? That means those who are able to deliver it should get the recognition and should get rewarded for it. Now you have sectors that rewards quality, innovation, environmental protection and entrepreneurship. We are seeing that marks that rewards unsustainable behaviour are becoming less vital whereas those that rewards all these aspects are more vital.

FSF: Are we taking about European markets specifically?

Lucas: No, this is a global game. This is happening in global markets: palm oil, coffee, soy, cotton and so on. It is not enough for just one country or continent like Europe to say we have certain standards. For example, we see this in the tea sector where 80% of the tea is consumed locally and 20% of the tea goes to western markets so what does it matter if 20% of the consumers demands higher standards and you still have 80% of unsustainable markets? Eventually, this is a global game but it takes time before the whole industry and sectors reach this level. It is important to work with first movers like the European Union but it doesn´t stop there, it is only the first step.

FSF: What are the driver forces of changing global markets towards sustainability?

Lucas: There are four forces that drive sustainability. The first one is how easy or difficult it is to be a farmer. What we see is in many commodity sectors it is quite easy to find opportunities in these markets. The second one is what does the market reward? We have to analyse if markets reward only lowest price or quality aspects. The third force is regarded to governments or sector organizations and how we organize our selves, if we give farmers what they really need because in many countries farmers are left to their faith so it is about how are we supporting them in an enabling environment. The forth one is how can farmers move out. Are they dependent to their livelihoods? Or are they struggling to remain being a farmer? It is about how these four forces work together to shape the outcome of agricultural production. If markets don´t care as long as products are cheap, governments are not doing the things to support agriculture and farmers cannot get out and they stay in the bottom, the sector start to compete with poverty. When famers have to accept low prices because they need to survive, now you probably have a failing system. The only way to change agriculture is to look at these forces and think: what does the market reward? does it reward quality? who are the farmers of the future? how do we stimulate them? what is the role of the government? That is how we change the rules of the game.

FSF: From your experience, what are the phases or stages of sustainability in the organizations?

Lucas: It is true that markets change but they have similar phases. When there’s an issue within the sector (it could be poverty, child labour, plant diseases, low prices or climate change that affects crops). We first start denying the issues and then we do projects because we don´t know what else to do. The second phase is very important because it begins to change and figure out how to compete. As soon as you get first movers, you have second or third movers that are doing something similar but slightly different (that is competition) so that is great. Then, you can move to the next phase and make a separation between what it is competitive and what is not competitive.
For example, climate smart is great if you compete on your technology or your way of doing things but suddenly you will need to think on research or how your are doing things. It is about growing up as a sector and starting seeing these things that finally will become a norm. These are the maturity phases and once you have to think how you can accelerate it, go quicker and more efficiently.

FSF: Are there any phases in regards of sustainability from the consumer perspective?

Lucas: That is a very good question. These four phases that I just described from an industry or sector are not necessarily the faces from the consumer point of view. The consumer (at least in western markets) goes from a non-interest to an increasing interest. People want to see action and movement. This is where labels play an important role when consumers feel they can do something when they buy their products. However, if we have a lot of labels the consumers will start to lose interest as they might be feeling like everything is solved so apparently they are already contributing to a better world.
Moreover, regular consumers also have a lot of things in their minds: they have to buy thousands of products every year, they have troubles in their jobs, they don´t have a lot of money, they have issues at home. As a result, consumers say: if you want me to buy it, you have to take care of it.

FSF: What are the real benefits of the sustainable market transformations and what is the role of certification labels such as FSF?

Lucas: If you trully want to transform markets you need to change the rules of the game and prevent the sector from becoming unsustainable. Certification labels are good to treat patients with a bad lifestyle and get them to be healthier. In this sense, the role of certifications is very important and limited at the same time: it is important because it enables you to link the issue of sustainability to the competitiveness of your brand and differentiate yourself. In fact, that´s what competition is all about. However, at some point it will become so costly and you will have to start working together with others. 
Standards like Florverde are fantastic and they are part of the process of getting to truly sustainability. The certification is a tool, but is not sustainability itself. Standards are great but the will not solve everything. Therefore, we will need to start working together in order to change the rules of the game.

What other ways do you think will drive us to a sustainable future? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below, we'd love to read all of them!

viernes, 13 de noviembre de 2015

5 common mistakes when you're new on Corporate Social Media

5 common mistakes when you're new on Corporate Social Media
By: Oscar Farfán

We all love to gather with friends in boths ways, offline and online. Do i have to communicate the same way to my brands' stakeholders?

Companies have much to tell to the world. Build your brand reputation online is not an easy task and you'll need to keep in mind some basics before trying to open the first brand's profile online, no matter what social media network you want to use.

1. Share what you like related to the business sector and think others may love it!
Social media is about being spontaneous. Is you see something an find it interesting after reading/watching it, share it! others can learn and will be grateful with you!

2. Don't auto-like!
Common mistake. You should be asking yourself "what's wrong with that?" well, if you have ever been around the hashtag #ForeverAlone that's exactly what you're showing about your brand.

3. Never use a personal profile as a company profile
There are many interesting features on company profiles that personal ones don't have such as analytic tools and the possibility to assign roles on your team. The results will improve if you leave fear behind and know them. Best of all: most social networks do offer free basic analytics.

4. Talk to them as you want to be approached in real life
Alway remember to build friendships to last. 100 good followers will be happy to defend your brand in case of trolls trying to make you reach your boiling point. 
Thank them for their likes and follows, know them asking questions to what they commented about your content, highlight their best comments about the topics you're working on. Yes, just like friends!

5. It's better to work properly on one profile that badly on 5 or more
Choose wisely what social media networks your business needs. Some people think it must have al least a Facebook fanpage but think where your audience is before deciding  where to go.

Are you already involved in social media and want to share more tips for beginners? we'd love to hear from you!

For more information please visit our website and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the Tingua's Blog.

miércoles, 14 de octubre de 2015

Mutual acknowledgement with Rainforest Alliance Certified is now operative!

A common ground to make the difference!

Our mutual acknowledgment agreement with Rainforest Alliance Certified is now operative! this means a company can get certified by both standard in one single inspection!

Read more!

We'll be happy to read your opinions about our marketing materials also :) please share your thoughts with us!

lunes, 7 de septiembre de 2015

Friend of the month - September

Have your say in September... Mathieu Lamolle from Switzerland!
"There's a progress in the use of sustainability standards in global supply chains. The main proof of this is the steady growth of commitment from governments and large multinational companies, brands and retailers in integrating sustainability in their procurement strategies".
By: Juliana Díaz, MBA.

In this month we wanted to wide our sight about sustainability thanks to Mathieu LamolleMarket Analyst at International Trade Centre Standards Map - ITC. He has 10+ years in international commerce, market access and sustainable development. His main duty is to coordinate and supervise the regulations database for He also coordinates collaborations between the ITC and its private partners relative to project management and market analysis.  

Florverde® Sustainable Flowers: 
Why is important for sustainability the certification of the agricultural exports chains? 

Mathieu Lamolle: 
The global supply chains are composed of multiple actors and intermediaries operating between farmers and final consumers, among which processors, manufacturers, traders and retailers. For agricultural products to be exchanged with sustainability claims, there is a need for trust between all actors in the supply chain. Among the key factors that create this trust is the process of traceability and certification. Therefore, it is very important to have robust certification programs and assurance that the sustainability requirements are met at all levels of global supply chains.

Florverde® Sustainable Flowers: What is the countries' answer of it?

Several actions were made by countries and regions on sustainability and certification. The European Union has developed a set of regulations - for example in the organic sector - which assesses and regulates the statements made on any organic products. It is a way of maintaining control in the final message that sustainability is the used as appropriately as possible on the products. In some countries, such as Germany and Switzerland, the governments are putting assessment methodologies of sustainability standards, which aims to review the soundness of the sustainability requirements and system components, such as certification and audit process, assurance and governance. In the United States, the government is developing a set of guidelines for procurement officials to help them make decisions about public tenders and service providers who are claiming their sustainability goals and commitments.

Florverde® Sustainable Flowers: Can we talk about a progress on this matter? 

No doubt there is progress in the use of sustainability standards in global supply chains, from agriculture to manufacturing and textiles, toys and electronics sector. The main proof of this is the steady growth of commitment from governments and large multinational companies, brands and retailers in integrating sustainability in their procurement strategies and making sustainability a concrete model for business development.

Florverde® Sustainable Flowers: In the future, what are the trends for certification of the agricultural exports chains?

As we recognize that there is a proliferation of standards and claims for sustainability, the current trends is that such claims tend to initiate recognition process of each other through various processes of benchmarking: this helps to clarify the industry players up to final consumers on what is the substantial differences (if any) between sustainability standards. New assessment methodologies to benchmark sustainability standards are proliferating as well, trying to help policymakers and businesses navigate the complicated landscape of standards: such methodologies and tools are developed by governments, but also by industry associations or individual companies, brands and retailers. For more information please check

Is there other reasons to consider a sustainable standard to your products? do you think it will open doors to new markets and raise awareness about how your products were produced? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Do you like this interview? please share it with your friends!

domingo, 2 de agosto de 2015

Friend of the month - July

Have your say in July... Ximena Barrera Rey from Colombia!
"WWF Colombia’s Water Stewardship strategy aims to engage companies to look beyond their organizational boundaries, to consider their relationship with water and rethink their sustainability strategy to generate benefits for communities, ecosystems and the business itself"
By: Juliana Díaz, MBA.

This month we keep talking about environment and water conservation, now with one of our partners. Ximena Barrera Rey is Public Policy and Corporate Responsibility Director of WWF Colombia and also member of the Advisory Council of Florverde Sustainable Flowers

Florverde and WWF Colombia share a lot about sustainable management and water conservation in agriculture. 

Florverde® Sustainable Flowers: 
Taking into account WWF is part of our Advisory Council, how can Florverde® Sustainable Flowers and WWF work together regarding water conservation? 

Ximena Barrera: Water conservation is a key issue for WWF. As a global conservation organization, WWF advocates that all freshwater ecosystems – rivers, lakes, wetlands and associated aquifers – should be sustainably managed and wisely used to meet the needs of both biodiversity conservation and human development. Therefore, WWF has developed different methodologies and tools that can help economic sectors improve their management practices and promote water efficiency and reduce risks. As a member of Florverde Sustainable Flowers Advisory council, WWF is willing to share tools and information to support water conservation in the flower sector. 

Florverde® Sustainable Flowers: What is the WWF global water conservation strategy?

Ximena: Through the Global Freshwater Programme, WWF works to secure water for people and nature, through six key areas:

· Water Stewardship

· Water security

· Freshwater habitat protection such as rivers and wetlands

· Freshwater ecosystem services

· Climate change adaptation

· Water governance and water security

These strategies seek to protect freshwater ecosystems and species, improve water access, efficiency, but also water governance in WWF’s priority basins, while reducing the impact of humanity’s water footprint. All this work is carried out in collaboration with diverse partners, including other NGOs, governments, development agencies, businesses, and international conventions such as Ramsar.

Florverde® Sustainable Flowers: What is the relation between the global water conservation strategy and what WWF Colombia is doing? 

Ximena: WWF Colombia’s freshwater strategy aims to ensure resilience to climate change and water security for people, nature and economic development. The strategy focuses geographically on two major river basins (Amazon and Orinoco), and selected priority watersheds in the Andean region, home to 65% of the Colombian population, and source of energy production and economically productive activities. The strategy has three main pillars.

· Protection of critical ecosystems for freshwater biodiversity and provision of water resources and ecosystem services.

· Water Security and

· Governance and Water Stewardship. 

Florverde® Sustainable Flowers: What is the water stewardship program that WWF leads?

Ximena: Water Stewardship is a concept defined by WWF to help businesses contribute to the sustainable management of water resources in a basin. It is a series of steps that companies develop. It involves learning, acting, doing and improving, going beyond the fence of a company, reducing water-related impacts and risks of internal and value chain operations. Hence, it is a commitment to sustainable management of shared water resources through collective action with other businesses, governments, NGOs and communities.

The Water Stewardship Strategy is focused on the private sector. WWF is working to redefine the companies’ role in the territories where they have established their productive activities or where they have an impact, helping them advocate, support and promote better basin governance, for the benefit of people, nature and themselves.

Florverde® Sustainable Flowers: Who are your partners for this program and which focus does it have?

Ximena: WWF Colombia is developing Water Stewardship strategies with key business leaders, including ISAGEN, (the second largest energy supplier in Colombia), Bancolombia, (one of the largest financial institutions in the country) and Tecbaco (the largest seller of bananas to DOLE). We have also adapted to Colombia some of WWF’s global tools, such as the Water Risk Filter, which we have applied in the Coello-Combeima River Basin to build a target list of key impact industries to engage in local water stewardship efforts. 

Good Water Stewardship goes beyond a business being an efficient water user; businesses need to contribute to responsible management of freshwater resources, and maintain ecosystems that provide long term water supply. Effective water stewardship requires engagement and collective action among government agencies, financial institutions, communities and the private sector. WWF Colombia’s Water Stewardship strategy aims to engage companies to look beyond their organizational boundaries, to consider their relationship with water and rethink their sustainability strategy to generate benefits for communities, ecosystems and the business itself.

Florverde® Sustainable Flowers: How does WWF work with productive industries and farming activities in Colombia?

Ximena: WWF has been working closely with productive sectors in Colombia at a national, regional and local level in collaborative strategies that aim to generate relevant and reliable information to support decision making processes, especially related to projects that pose a significant potential impact on natural ecosystems.

A key element of the work with productive sectors is the engagement and participation of important stakeholders such as policy makers, research institutions, territorial and productive planning agencies, among others, in order to promote disclosure of initiatives and information exchange, technical support and ongoing discussions to facilitate inclusive and agreed results.

Does your company works together for a better world for us all? we'd love to read your experiences!

lunes, 6 de julio de 2015

Friend of the month - June 2015

Have your say in June... Katheryn Mejía from Colombia!

Katheryn giving crayons to a little girl
"Children are the future and we need to protect them against child labor. We all can be stewards"

By: Juliana Díaz, MBA.

This week is the World Day against Child Labor. Florverde® Sustainable Flowers standards prevents farms using forced labor or from employing workers under the age of 18.

Our friend of the month is Katheryn Mejía, Director of Social Responsibility of the Association of Colombian Flower Exporters (Asocolflores). We talked with her about this celebration.

Florverde® Sustainable Flowers: On the 12th of june the world will celebrate the World Day against Child Labor. How important is this celebration? 

Katheryn Mejía: One of the major problems of the XXI century is child labor. The ILO (International Labor Organization) says that there are 168 million children working in conditions of illegality in the world. The problem is not minor for Colombia. According to the Colombian Ministry of Labor there were 1,039,000 children working in conditions of illegality in 2014. Even Colombian floriculture prohibits child labor, we all need to become aware of this huge problem.

FSF®: What are the main threats for children when they are forced to work?

Katheryn: One of the reasons why children end up working is due to the need to help out financially at home. These children belong to low socioeconomic strata where child labor is not seen as a problem and society accept it, often disguised as collaboration. However, although the aim is to increase family income, child labor is directly related to extreme poverty, it takes children away from the opportunity to be educated and could give rise to physical and emotional injuries that prevent them from living their childhood.

FSF®What is Colombian Floriculture doing against child labor in Colombia? 

Katheryn: Over the last 10 years the flower industry has been working on its eradication through social responsibility programs focused on high-impact education and recreation.

Since December 2014, Asocolflores together with 13 companies joined the initiative of the Network Against Child Labor Colombia, a public-private partnership that seeks to contribute to the prevention and eradication of child labor and its worst forms in Colombian companies and their supply chains.

To date, there was 15 Asocolflores member companies, which have joined the initiative. It shows the commitment from the flower industry to contribute through its expertise and knowledge to other production industries, by drawing inspiration from the best practices of the Colombian floriculture, to prevent or combat child labor as do our producers and give the children opportunities to continue studying and let them be... children!

FSF®: Do you think Child Labor is only a problem from governments?

Katheryn: This is not only a problem of governments, but all of us as a society. It's destroying our social fabric. Children are the future and we need to protect them against child labor. We all can be stewards by not being tolerant and helping parents to understand the magnitude of the problem.

FSF®What will be your message for all of us regarding Child Labor?

Katheryn: I would like to invite all readers to turn our gaze towards children and become active actors to combat child labor, which jeopardizes the entire society.

Is there any other ways to prevent children from forced work? we'd love to read your experiences!