Implement Sustainable Land-Use Criteria in Supply Chains

Governments, civil society and businesses need to collaborate to make smart choices on land use that meet growing demands while maintaining sustainability.

The Problem: Assuming current trends continue, the FAO projects that agricultural output will need to rise by 60% from 2005-2007 levels to meet expected 2050 demand (FAO, 2012). Bioenergy demand is also anticipated to increase threefold by 2050 (IEA, 2013), which could lead to more land conversion and price hikes in wheat, oilseeds and animal feed. With all this expected increase in demand, land remains a limited asset. Governments, civil society and businesses need to collaborate to make smart choices for the most appropriate use of land and management techniques for different geographies.

The Solution: Companies can develop and implement sustainable land-use management plans in their supply chains that incorporate criteria on land use optimization and support sustainable production of food, feed, fibre, biofuel and other bio-based products.

The Business Case

  • It can bolster operations. Sustainable land-use management can help secure access to raw materials and expand production of forest and agriculture commodities.

  • It reinforces corporate sustainability values. Optimum use of available land can help avoid deforestation, improve food security, and, in turn, contribute to a net-positive carbon footprint. Restoration aligns with aspects of the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 Business Solution, and principles of sustainable commodity roundtables (e.g., RSPO).


Next Two Years

Organization of dialogue between competing sectors to discuss land-use issues:

  • The Forests Dialogue (TFD), on Food, Fuel, Fiber and Forests (4Fs), gathers stakeholders in specific locations to discuss land-use issues. TFD on 4Fs ultimately aims for fairer and more sustainable land use.

  • Biomass Optimization Platform (led by the FAO, IUCN and UNEP), an initiative still in development that aims to create an agreed set of definitions and voluntary guidelines on biomass optimization for a sustainable bio-based economy.


  • Clarify land tenure. Reduce environmental degradation and minimize land-use conflicts through government policies that clarify and secure rights to land and natural resource use.

  • Research and measurement. Develop globally agreed guidelines on land use optimization, including agreed sets of definitions, for companies to implement throughout their supply chains.

  • Capacity building. Train the entire agricultural value chain, from farmers to retailers, on sustainable land management and land use optimization. Policymakers also need training to be able to design public policy that incentivizes optimization of land use and implementation of sustainable land management practices.


  • Number of companies that have implemented land optimization guidelines.


Land-use (or Land Resources) Planning

Land-use (or Land Resources) Planning is a systematic and iterative procedure carried out in order to create an enabling environment for sustainable development of land resources which meets people’s needs and demands. It assesses the physical, socio-economic, institutional and legal potentials and constraints with respect to an optimal and sustainable use of land resources, and empowers people to make decisions about how to allocate those resources.

These are matched through a multiple goal analysis and assessment of the intrinsic value of the various environmental and natural resources of the land unit. The result is an indication of a preferred future land use, or combination of uses. Through a negotiation process with all stakeholders, the outcome is improved, agreed decisions on the concrete allocation of land for specific uses (or non-uses) through legal and administrative measures, which will lead eventually to implementation of the plan.

Source: FAO, policy-and-planning/en/

Relevant priority areas