Major stakeholder concerns in Brazil relate to land ownership and land use, landless and indigenous people's rights, the water use of plantations, and local social and development issues related to poverty. Our aim is to be an active member of local communities and help to address these challenges.
The joint venture company Veracel runs a state-of-the-art pulp mill and eucalyptus plantations in southern Bahia. Veracel's large-scale land ownership and the consequent elevation of land prices have been a major concern among some stakeholders. Veracel engages actively with all local stakeholders and strives to be an active member of the local community.
Veracel's own externally verified GRI sustainability report can be downloaded at www.veracel.com.br.
Contributing to local agricultural development
In 2012 Veracel launched a major initiative with the state government, called the Pact for the Development of the Discovery Coast. Through this agreement the government will return to
Veracel ICMS tax credits paid by the company between 2011 and 2015, in return for a commitment by Veracel to invest in local development programmes. With total investments of USD 9 million by 2015, this pact will benefit small-scale farmers in several local communities. During 2013 six projects were
started, of which four have already been completed. These projects include associations set up for small-scale producers and indigenous farmers.
Veracel partners with local farmers when procuring wood for the pulp mill, and has continued to pioneer the concept of group forest certification in southern Bahia. Partner farmers enjoy concrete benefits from the forest certification process, since it streamlines farm management, enhances working conditions, and facilitates the establishment of conservation areas. By the end of 2013 FSC and CERFLOR (PEFC) forest certification had been obtained by 51 farmers.
Veracel also enables local beekeepers to keep their beehives on the company's land. In 2013 a total of 100 honey producers participated in this scheme.
Addressing social issues
Veracel makes social investments designed to promote local development, including income generation programmes and assistance to people in need. These investments are planned
and executed in cooperation with the public sector, with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and most importantly with the local communities who receive the support themselves. In 2013 Veracel started cooperation with the NGO Instituto Mae Terra to provide training for 46 selected young people from communities near Veracel's forestry operations. This project aims to empower these youngsters to act as agents for local development and form networks that will enable them to gain support. In 2012 Stora Enso concluded an agreement with the NGO Childhood to combat child abuse and exploitation in municipalities near Veracel area. Problems related to tourism significantly affect Porto Seguro and Santa Cruz Cabralia, while problems in Eunapolis are more related to poverty in general. In March 2013 the project kicked off with a seminar enabling key local actors to align their views and strengthen networks to help prevent sexual violence against children and adolescents. During 2013 six training courses were run to boost the capacities of the local authorities, teachers and others to recognise and address such issues. Together with Childhood and other local NGOs Veracel also organised a seminar during 2013 to discuss this topic with the local media and encourage them to protect victims and respect their rights. The positive results of this project are reflected in strong commitment among local municipalities.
Dialogue with landless people's social movements
During 2013 Veracel continued to engage in dialogues with the state government and the representatives of the six social landless movements: the Movement of Landless Workers (MST),
the Federation of Agricultural Workers (Fetag), the Movement for the Struggle for Land (MLT), the Front of Free Workers, the Peasant Resistance Movement (MRC) and the Association of Unidos Venceremos (Aprunve). This process is facilitated by the Government of the State of Bahia, through the Secretariat of Institutional Relations (SERIN).
Through this dialogue the social movements have pledged to leave areas their members had occupied since July 2011, while Veracel will not seek to repossess areas occupied before this date. This proposal will result in a project coordinated by an institution of education and research, aiming to provide technical support and management for the implementation of sustainable settlements that can provide income for the settlers' families.
In August 2013 Veracel informed the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA) about the areas that would form the sustainable settlement. INCRA initiated an inspection of
these areas and related land transfers in 2013. This inspection is expected to be finalised during 2014. Through cooperation with the Agricultural College of the University of Sao Paulo (Esalq), also initiated in 2013, Veracel has started to conduct an assessment of the areas and regional markets, aiming to help resettled families adopt viable and sustainable forms of family farming. This resettlement is planned to cover areas totalling 16 500 hectares and benefit approximaterly 1 000 families. In terms of both the number of people assistd and its geographical scope this will be the most significant land reform project reported to the government of Bahia over the last 25 years.
Engaging with indigenous communities
Veracel is continuing to actively engage with the area’s 17 indigenous Pataxó and Tupinambás communities and work closely with the NGO Tribo Jovens to improve the conditions of indigenous people. This cooperation programme has been fostering social, economic and environmental development since 2006. Tribo Jovens is also involved in the Childhood project and initiatives related to the Discovery Coast Pact.
Other stakeholder engagements During 2013 Veracel conducted an active dialogue with the Association of Aquaculture and a local fishermen’s association concerning dredging near the terminal
at Belmonte, the main harbour used by Veracel. The aim is to enable fishing to continue in coexistence with the transportation of pulp, by devising new dredging procedures that will have less impact on the marine environment.
Veracel’s Atlantic Rainforest Conservation Station conducts scientific research, conserves native ecosystems and endangered species, and provides environmental education. To mark the UN’s International Year of Water Cooperation 2013, the Veracel Station hosted an exhibition spotlighting the importance of water conservation.
Veracel offers several channels for its stakeholders to express their concerns and questions. Examples include a feedback channel on the company’s website, a postal address, regular meetings with neighbouring communities, and postboxes in suitable locations. For more information see Veracel’s own report at www.veracel.com.br.