Learning with SHARP Regional Focal Points

Through 2015 Regional Focal Points (RFPs) have been leading the field implementation of the SHARP Responsible Sourcing from Smallholders (RSS) framework and simplified High Conservation Value (HCV) approach for smallholders. In January they met for two days in The Hague to capture and consolidate lessons from this formative experience. They were hosted by SNV and joined by staff from the Proforest Responsible Sourcing team, the HCV Resource Network and IDH. Here are their key conclusions:

On the RSS framework RFPs recognised that,

  • Companies and smallholders can see a clear business case for investing if RSS is to work well.
  • Company commitment is crucial, but they are often reluctant to make long term investments in the efficiency and sustainability of a smallholder supply base they share with other buyers. Agreements between companies, regulation within the industry and/or sharing risk through public private partnerships could provide reassurance to unlock company investment.
  • Capacity of smallholder institutions can be a critical constraint but also a positive outcome of RSS.
  • Companies too may need initial external support to take on the role of Implementing Entity.
    RSS serves as catalyst for sharing responsibilities for risk management throughout the supply chain
    • RSS serves as a catalyst for sharing responsibilities for risk management throughout the supply chain.
    • The SHARP partnership must use the experience and expertise in SHARP tools now residing in RFP teams to support uptake of RSS.
    • Moving ‘off-paper’ could facilitate more efficient and adaptable RSS risk and needs assessment and rapid acquisition and analysis of data.


    Partners also agreed on next steps to take forward the application of HCV for smallholders, i.e.

    • Supplementary guidance for use of the Precautionary Practices approach, including preparation of focal species lists and information for key regions, guidance on human-wildlife conflict and checklist for RSPO auditors to ensure they understand the approach and know what to look for on monitoring systems.
    • Actions at national level to integrate HCV4SH in local programmes.
    • An inventory of issues for smallholders around HCV management and related barriers to RSPO certification
    • Definitions and procedures for smallholders looking to expand their plantations, to achieve clarity on implications of smallholder decisions on land clearance.
    • New ideas for simplified Social and Environmental Assessment for smallholders, to complement approaches for HCV management.
    • Develop the HCV approaches for smallholders working with other standards and commodities.


    Bi-monthly calls are planned to maintain contact and the flow of information between RFPs and the SHARP Secretariat. The principle focus will remain the further development and uptake of the RSS framework and HCV approaches for smallholders. Other interested SHARP Partners are welcome to join. 

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