Never before has the need to manage risk through sustainable agriculture been as great as it is now. With modern-day consumers becoming more and more aware of their individual impacts on the environment, there is growing pressure on buyers and markets to ensure that the products they sell are sourced from environmentally sustainable suppliers. Furthermore, the natural environment is being placed under immense pressure with our natural resources and biodiversity being threatened by the likes of climate change and greenhouse gases. To fulfil this need for sustainability in agriculture, assurance programmes such as SIZA can assist buying companies with managing their risks and providing consumer assurance based on integrated, contextualised, and trustworthy data.

As buyers, you are faced with one important question: Why should SIZA be the preferred environmental standard for South Africa? SIZA Environmental does not only focus on only one aspect, but it is a holistic management approach that covers all four cornerstones of the environmental pillars such as soil; water; energy, materials, and waste; and biodiversity and ecosystems and therefore the answer lies in the following four key aspects.

Uniquely South African Context

The SIZA Environmental Standard was developed in partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature, South Africa (WWF-SA) and aims to assist South African suppliers in becoming compliant, while at the same time promoting environmental stewardship. The SIZA Environmental Standard is unique in its nature as it is based on South African environmental legislation, while also considering the particular environmental context, risks, and circumstances that are associated with agriculture in South Africa. By focusing on the South African market, SIZA offers a hands-on approach that is implemented and monitored on ground-level. SIZA ensures that continuous improvement is driven, and compliance is upheld by implementing various awareness-raising and capacity building initiatives, such as workshops and webinars for suppliers on the implementation of the SIZA Environmental Standard and legislative requirements, on-site and telephonic assistance with completing annual self-assessment questionnaires (SAQs), and in-between audit monitoring site visits.

Integrated Environmental Management

Everything that surrounds us – the water we drink, the food we eat, the air we breathe, the ground we walk on, the mountains we climb, and the seas we swim in – is interconnected and forms what we call the environment. As a result, successful environmental management cannot be viewed in isolation or based on only one or two environmental factors. Therefore, the SIZA Environmental standard focuses on the integrated management of the four cornerstones of the environment, namely soil; water; energy, materials, and waste; and biodiversity and ecosystems. These cornerstones form an integral part of agricultural operations and requires a holistic management approach to ensure long-term environmental sustainability.

Data-Driven Risk Management & Visibility

SIZA assists buying companies with managing their risks by providing visibility of their suppliers’ audit and SAQ data via the MySIZA online platform. By making use of efficient and well-designed software, MySIZA provides visibility and traceability to the ethical (social) and environmental performance of all SIZA members. Linked buyers can generate credible risk reports on their suppliers’ audit, verification and SAQ data through the online platform that is profiled according to non-compliances, best practices, and risks. By identifying the areas with the highest risk through credible and trustworthy data, whether on an individual producer level or when viewing all your suppliers holistically, risk can be managed more efficiently along the supply chain. CSV and JSON files are also available to ensure that the data can be used on other platforms and data management tools.

For the convenience of buyers, SIZA also has an agreement in place with the Sedex platform where audit and SAQ data is shared to create further visibility based on market preferences. As another partnership SIZA also has an agreement with GLOBALG.A.P. in place to allow for compliance data to be shared via an API link.

Consumer Assurance

To ensure credibility and transparency of the programme, SIZA adopted a third-party audit approach through which audits are conducted by internationally recognised, independent audit firms. A dedicated audit oversight-team and the enforcement of strict competency requirements for SIZA-approved third-party auditors and audit firms adds another level of reliability to the programme to assure buyers and consumers that improvement is being driven.

Through awareness-raising initiatives, capacity building programmes, routine on-site visits, and the third-party audit system, SIZA aims to encourage the implementation of best-practices that exceed minimum legal requirements and address the broader impacts that we have on the environment. In doing so, we can ensure that our natural environment is protected, and food security is sustained for generations to come.