Sustainability Exchange

Achieving, measuring and communicating impact

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Achieving social and environmental impact at field level is the ultimate goal of all initiatives for sustainable production and trade. Impact therefore is a major concern for practitioners involved in setting up sustainable value chains, for businesses that sell sustainable produce, and for voluntary sustainability standards. There is plenty of insight and relevant experience how to achieve impact, how to measure it, and how to communicate it. However, there are also plenty of issues and challenges to be addressed.  

In order to advance on this topic we propose sharing ideas and lessons learnt along the following lead questions:


1.  How to ensure that sustainable production and value chains achieve real impact at field level?
2.  How to measure impact at field level?
3.  How to best communicate impact?


In order to enrich the discussion we will share ideas and conclusions from the ISEAL 2015 Global Sustainability Standards Conference “A Roadmap to change” (20-22 May in Berlin) where several sessions deal with the impact topic.

Several recent studies that assessed the impact of different sustainability standards found that certification to a standard does not automatically lead to impact at field level. Let’s therefore start with an impact hypothesis that we propose for debate:

“Training producers and verifying their compliance with sustainability standards are important for achieving impact at field level. However, they only unfold their full potential if combined with measures to address key obstacles, and economic incentives to implement changes in the production system.”

Do you agree or disagree with this impact hypothesis? What needs to be done to ensure that sustainable production and value chains achieve real impact at field level?

Frank Eyhorn and Marjoleine Motz




Atteindre, mesurer et communiquer l’impact

Toutes les initiatives de la production et du commerce durable ont pour but ultime de réaliser un impact social et environnemental sur le terrain. L'impact est au centre des préoccupations des praticiens qui établissent des chaînes de valeur durables, pour les entreprises qui vendent des produits durable ainsi que pour les normes volontaires de durabilité. Il existe beaucoup d’exemples d'expérience et de connaissances pertinentes sur les thèmes liés à l’impact : comment l’atteindre, comment le mesurer, et comment le communiquer. Cependant, il y a aussi beaucoup de questions et défis à adresser.

Afin d’avancer sur ce sujet, nous vous proposons de partager des idées et des leçons apprises par rapport aux questions suivantes :

1.    Comment faire pour que les chaînes de production et de valeur durables réalisent un impact réel sur le terrain?
2.    Comment mesurer l'impact au niveau du terrain: défis et meilleures pratiques
3.    Comment communiquer l’impact?

Pour enrichir cette discussion, nous allons partager des idées et des conclusions de la conférence : ISEAL 2015 Global Sustainability Standards Conference “A Roadmap to change qui s’est déroulé à Berlin, 20-22 mai et ou plusieurs sessions ont traités avec le sujet de l’impact.

Plusieurs études récentes ayant évaluée l’impact des différentes normes de durabilités ont constaté que la certification à un niveau ne conduit pas automatiquement à un impact au niveau du terrain.
Commençons donc avec une hypothèse d’impact que nous proposons pour le débat.

“Former des producteurs et vérifier leur conformité avec les standards de durabilité est important pour avoir un impact au niveau du terrain. Cependant, pour déployer leur plein potentiel, il faut les combiner avec des mesures pour surmonter les obstacles clefs et des incitations économiques pour mettre en œuvre des changements dans le système de production”.

Etes-vous d’accord ou en désaccord avec cette hypothèse d’impact ? Qu’est-ce qui doit être fait pour assurer que la production durable et les chaînes de valeur réalise un impact réel sur le terrain ?

Frank Eyhorn et Marjoleine Motz




Lograr, medir y comunicar el impacto
Lograr impacto social y medio ambiental a nivel de terreno es el fin último de todas las iniciativas para la producción sostenible y el comercio. Por lo tanto, el impacto es una gran preocupación  para profesionales que están envueltos en crear cadenas de valor sostenibles, para negocios que venden producción sostenible, y para los estándares voluntarios de sostenibilidad. Hay muchas ideas y experiencias relevantes sobre cómo lograr impacto, como medirlo, y cómo comunicarlo. De cualquier modo, hay muchas cuestiones y retos que deben ser abordados.

A fin de avanzar en este tema, proponemos compartir ideas y lecciones aprendidas guiándonos con las siguientes preguntas:

1.    ¿Cómo asegurar que la producción sostenible y las cadenas de valor logren un impacto real a nivel de terreno?
2.    ¿Cómo medir el impacto a nivel de terreno: retos y buenas prácticas
3.    ¿Cómo comunicar el impacto?

Para enriquecer la discusión compartiremos ideas y conclusiones de la Conferencia de ISEAL 2015 de Estándares Globales de Sostenibilidad "A Roadmap to Change" (20-22 Mayo en Berlín) donde varias sesiones tratarán el tema de impacto.

Varios estudios recientes que midieron el impacto de distintos estándares de sostenibilidad descubrieron que certificarse a un estándar no genera automáticamente impacto a nivel de terreno. Por lo tanto proponemos iniciar el debate con esta hipótesis de impacto:

“Entrenar a los productores y la verificación de su cumplimiento de estándares de sostenibilidad es importante para lograr impacto a nivel de terreno. Sin embargo, sólo desarrollan todo su potencial si se combinan con medidas para hacer frente a obstáculos claves, e incentivos económicos para aplicar los cambio en el sistema de producción”

¿Está de acuerdo con esta hipótesis de impacto? ¿Qué se necesita hacer para asegurar que la producción sustentable y las cadenas de valor alcancen un impacto real a nivel de terreno?

Frank Eyhorn et Marjoleine Motz

May 15, 2015 13:08

Fully agree with the statement; in fact the e-mail highlighting the topic arrived just after I had sent off something very similar with respect to Sustainable Vanilla in Madagascar.  There is a strong need for "carrot and stick" interventions to tackle the key obstacles while simultaneously providing the incentive and inspiration to make change happen in a positive sense.  In short, at Shinergise Partners (the consultancy that I run with colleagues) we always run a "Drivers of Motivation" exercise to determine what will be effective in influencing change and sustaining the commitment to make change happen.

Moreover I would add that the economic incentives do not necessarily need to be direct financial "carrots" but could for example be a decrease in market price volatility, a more stable and predictable demand projection and the capacity to plan projected returns against required investments - thus turning an initial need for capital into the seed of future growth that is both predictable and sustainable. 

Extended-value chain thinking in which pivotal connections along the supply chain can behave more collaboratively is essential to ensuring long term success and a  stable win-win environment in which the natural environment is neither victim nor villain.

May 18, 2015 17:32

I can only partially agree with the statement, because training of producers only is relevant when they do not have the capabilities required. History shows many cases where projects thought that training was the solution, while there were many other bottlenecks that were limiting outcome and impact. 
Moreover, impact does not seem to be defined clearly in the statement, although different stakeholders will appreciate impact differently. And this strongly determines the assessment of obstacles that will be found on the road.

Perhaps the best training would be one for all stakeholders involved  (from producers to experts), focusing a common understanding with regard to the optimum pathway for each stakeholder. This would be the basis of a description of how the situation would present itself after the impact has taken place, and define relevant measures.

May 18, 2015 18:34

Tom You're indeed correct - training by itself never achieves very much, it has to be about behavioural change and that also means changing the culture that is prevalent - culture being beliefs + values + behaviours.  Training can be the blunt hammer that makes every trainee (be they farmer, producer or industry C-suite executive) appear to be a nail!  However I would say to you that training is not just about transferring capabilities, but is also about changing mind-set and indeed driving motivation whilst (hopefully) inspiring a long-term sense of shared commitment.

May 18, 2015 19:00

Dear Tom, it is depends from the quality of trainings conducted. Were this trainings needs based? or it was just formal training. History also shows that most trainings are conducted just formally, trainer has limited capacity, and mostly topic maybe is not interesting for beneficiaries. If you are expecting for impact, training should be prepared based on beneficiaries needs and how training topic can match with this needs. And trainer has actually be prepared. 

May 20, 2015 07:38

Dear Hamish and Sherod, of course it depends on quality. Anything in life depends on it. What I wanted to stress that training is not always the solution. And that it happens far too often that a proper analysis of a pathway to an improved situation (whatever it may be)  would have pointed to bottlenecks that are far more limiting than capacities/capabilities/motivation/mind-set etc etc of producers.  Like non-functioning markets, lack of financing of improved production systems or inadequate legislation.

And  'shared commitment'? Many projects assume too easily that it exists, or are hesitant to explicitely mention and analyse the interests of stakeholders that do NOT overlap. Which makes it very hard to describe what impact for each stakeholder looks like and how it should be "measured" in a quantitative or qualitative manner.

May 20, 2015 08:15

Dear Tom, yes I'm agree with you. and may be we can reformulate hypothesis, like training is one of important part of impact, but full impact also depends on availability of funds, markets and other stuff? what do you think? 

May 20, 2015 10:41

I think that if you read my response you will see that we are actually very close to shared commitment ourselves i.e. I state quite clearly that training can be a blunt instrument without behaviour change. Equally in my original response I stated that we must focus on the "Drivers of Motivation" of different stakeholders at the outset of a project.
I have been extensively involved in pushing for "industry shift" within one particular sector vertical and the misalignment, indeed direct conflict of interest, between different parts of the extended value chain is self-evident. The smallholder farmer needs/wants/deserves more money, that means that some of the exploitative middlemen have to lose out as historically they have been using differential economic power to line their own pockets. Even at the retail end far away from the farms, the consumer has to be willing to pay more for the higher perceived quality, while the retailer should pay the manufacturer more, the manufacturer pay the processor more, etc.
Thus establishing shared commitment is a complex negotiation, carefully creating consensus, tolerating acceptable trade-offs and eliminating unacceptable and unworkable compromises.
What is quite interesting is that some of the more activist NGO's and consumer watchdogs seem unable or unwilling to comprehend some of the multi-layer commercial inter-dependencies and behave as though Harry Potter will wave his magic wand and the whole world will be certified sustainable!

May 21, 2015 07:43


we have recently published a set of metrics: FairForest Metrics to measure the social, environmental and financial performance of sustainable forestry projects. This is a tool set that enables every forestry or agro-forestry project to track their performance.

I am interested about a feedback of the community here.


Kind regards,


May 18, 2015 20:43

Alexander - will ask a colleague to have a look at it as he is more knowledgable on agro-forestry and give you feedback

May 28, 2015 09:02

I'm agree with hypothesis. The only problem is measuring of it. We can not expect imidiate impact, because beneficiares need time for fully understanding, that mean creation of some extension support. And of course result could be achieved after some period of time. For example, in our project in Tajikistan - Organic Value Chain Development project. We have conducted a lot of trainings, but still there are 3 years of conversion period and untill that time, decreasing in yield could be expected and produce can not be marketed as organic. And here we have a deal with trust of farmers. And trust can be achieved only with well conducted training and extension support. And finally, if we see that farmers believing us and after 3 years becoming Bio-farmers, this is really best indicators at field level.

best regards,


May 20, 2015 08:12

I partially agree with the statement. Training and verification of compliance against standards are very important means to achieve impact. However to identify these key obstacles and to measure impact at field level there has to be a system in place to collect and monitor field data, determine outcomes and adjust when needed. Since I’m in this line of business I of course advocate this but nonetheless it’s a fact that a lot of certification projects have started because they wanted to do good and many of these programs have failed to come with reliable data. Training of farmers and obtaining of the yearly certificates alone are not enough to achieve impact on the long term. Look at all that data collected during the internal inspection rounds every year ending up in dusty boxes. So much valuable information unused. Of course most often there is just no money and expertise available to analyse these often huge amounts of forms/data. However, after all those years of investing in certification programs isn't it high time to talk about where exactly certification has done well for small-scale farmers and where not and to determine the right way forward for the next decade of sustainable agriculture standards? Economic incentives: yes important because farmers wouldn't do all the effort without getting a premium price but I'm afraid that these are not long-term, sustainable solutions. Lower premium prices in cocoa for example have the consequence that the costs of running a certification program becomes to high impeding their expansion and even in some cases continued existence. Measures to address key obstacles: maybe it’s about time for certification schemes to do more lobbying on government level, how difficult and complex it might be. Real impact can only be achieved if locally everybody has to adhere to the same rules.    

May 21, 2015 00:00

Thanks for these comments that highlight important additional points, including the different drivers of motivation (reduced price volatility, ensured demand, shared commitment), the type of need-based training that is required, and the role for governments in addressing obstacles and setting basic rules. This nicely blends with the conclusions of a discussion today during ISEAL’s Global Sustainability Standards Conference in Berlin. Real impact happens if there is systemic change at several levels: the production system that also includes rotation crops/intercrops for domestic consumption, the business model for the producers and the way buyers relate with producers including how prices are set. The discussion also highlighted the need to address burning issues in and around the value chain that need to be taken up by local governments and at sector level. But how to address all this simultanuously - where to focus?

May 21, 2015 18:43

Estimadas y Estimados Colegas.

Alternativas para mejorar su impacto.

Hay factores que se pueden controlar y otros no.

La sostenibilidad de las cadenas de valor; en un país como Guatemala; partiendo de la base que se refiere a procesos producticos  realizados por pequeños productores; son  de alto riesgo, dado que como consecuencia de la alta concentración de la tierra y la riqueza en pocas manos; se  realizan en condiciones adversas.

No obstante, la experiencia del proyecto “Acción” y su eslabón superior, el Proyecto de desarrollo económico rural territorial,  “PRODERT”, nos muestra que  pueden ser exitosos con productos como hortalizas de clima templado, miel y café, especialmente para la exportación.

Actualmente se están construyendo condiciones, para hacer competitivos cadenas de valor  de cerdos, aves, papa, ovinos, leche bovina para el mercado interno, entre otros:

Los impactos positivos de sustentan  en:

  •  Los y las productores (as) deben estar en capacidad de manejar el proceso de producción, transformación y comercialización de sus cadenas (tanto a nivel de empresas empacadoras nacionales y / o a nivel de importadores de destino externos).
  • Estar en capacidad de producir la calidad exigida y planificar la producción al mercado.
  • Que productores y compradores, cumplan sus compromisos.
  • Producir bajo certificaciones sanitarias de destino del producto.
  • Potencia lo anterior, vender a mercados diferenciados, como el orgánico, justo, otros.
  • Fortalece el proceso, el aplicar e instaurar, fortalecer y consolidar, la política de partenariado institucional. (ya se inició este proceso).

No obstante hay  barreras que se deben romper:

  • Los incentivos de precios, especialmente los fijos, (en el caso de la hortalizas de exportación por ejemplo), se ven afectados, por el “rechazo”  por las empacadoras de producción de calidad exportable).
  • Poco valor agregado, en el proceso de manipuleo  del producto, por las organizaciones de productores.
  • Falta de micro riego, para producir todo el año.
  • Alto precio de las certificaciones y recertificaciones.
  • Manejo ambiental, poco “amigable”

Algunas alternativas de solución, que se podrían aplicar.

  • Diálogo y concertación entre organizaciones productivas rurales, para negociar con los compradores.
  • Capacitar a negociadores campesinos, que tengan condiciones para ello.
  • Incrementar el proceso  de ”manipuleo del producto” para dar valor agregado en campo.
  • Negociar el precio de las certificaciones para que sean más baratas y contratarlas por “paquetes”, para bajar sus costos.
  • Hacer inversiones pública – privadas, para mejorar la infraestructura productiva;  post cosecha y transformación.
  • Aplicar medidas de mitigación de riegos de desastres, CEDRIG por ejemplo. (Se está aplicando).
  • Mejorar el manejo de desechos sólidos.


Son esperanzadoras, porque se están incrementando los encadenamientos, se ha comprobado que aumentan los ingresos y se han incrementado las áreas de producción. Es un proceso inacabado.


May 25, 2015 16:40

[English summary] Pedro Roberto Hoffmann expressed:

Alternatives to improve impact:

  • Some factors/aspects can be controlled, and others can’t.
  • Sustainability on value chains is high risk in Guatemala due to high land concentration and wealth in a few hands.
  • Some of our projects (“Accion” and “Prodert”) have shown this can be successful, with products like honey and coffee for export.
  • Currently we are building conditions to improve value chains for pork, poultry, potatoe, milk and others for internal markets.

Our positive impact is based on:

-    Producers must know-how to manage processes of production, transformation and commercialization (national and imports of external end)
-    Meet expected quality and plan production
-    Producers  must meet commitments
-    Produce under sanitary certifications
-    Sell to differentiated markets, e.g. organic amongst others
-    Apply  and consolidate a policy for institutional partnership

Some barriers that need to be torn apart:
-    Fixed price incentives (e.g. export) are affected when packaging companies reject production of export quality
-    Little added value on the handling processes by producer organizations
-    Lack of micro irrigation to produce the whole year
-    High prices or certification and re-certifications
-    Environmental management is not “friendly”

Some alternatives for solution:
-    Dialogue amongst rural production orgs to negotiate with buyers
-    Build capacities of farmers negotiators
-    Increment handling process to give added value in the field
-    Negotiate the price of certifications to make them cheaper, and get them by “packs” to reduce their cost
-    Make public-private investment, to improve the productive infrastructure, post-harvest and transformation
-    Apply measures for disaster risk management reduction, e.g. CEDRIG
-    Improve solid waste management.

-    Perspective is hopeful, as we see increased links, and we have proven that income increases, and the production areas have grown. Process is ongoing.

June 02, 2015 16:11

Estimadas y Estimados Colegas.

Cómo medir el impacto a nivel de terreno: retos y buenas prácticas.

Se han realizado sistematizaciones en el Proyecto Acción y PRODERT, que han medido los siguientes aspectos:

  • Permanencia, (duración) en el tiempo de los encadenamientos.

  • Aumento de área de siembra.

  • Aumento de la producción y productividad.

  • Disminución de los reparos a la producción por parte de planta, de empresa exportadora.

  • Disminución de reparos, por parte de empresas compradoras de países destinos, a través de los controles de trazabilidad.

  • Aumento de agricultores que participan en cada encadenamiento.

  • Aumento de precios de compra sobre el promedio de marcado.

  • Diversificación de compradores.

  • Disminución de reparos por parte de las empresas re certificadoras

  • Aumento de nivel de manipuleo de producto en comunidad de origen (valor agregado).

  • Mejora de infraestructura de producción, fundamentalmente de parcelas a nivel de certificación y mini centros de acopio, a nivel de campo, (terreno).

  • Aumento del nivel de inversión familiar y decrecimiento de recursos financieros externos.

  • Aumento de la calidad de la infraestructura de propiedad comunitaria de acopio y transformación y la distancia que falta para llegar a un “centro de procesamiento”.

  • Disminución de las emigraciones a centros urbanos y / o los EE.UU.

  • Aumento de jóvenes que estudian a nivel secundario y / universidad.


May 26, 2015 16:22

[English summary] Pedro Roberto Hoffmann expressed:

There have been systematizations of the projects "Accion" and "PRODERT",  which have been measured as follows:

• Increased planting area.• Increased production and productivity.
• Reduction of the objections to the production by plant and exporting company.
• Reduction of objections, by buying companies destinations countries, through traceability controls.
• Increased farmers participating in each chain.
• Increased purchase prices above the average markup.
• Diversification of buyers.
• Decreased repairs by companies re certification
• Increased level of product handling in the community of origin (value added).
• Improved production infrastructure, mainly at the level of certification plots and mini storage facilities, field level (ground).
• Increased level of family investment and decrease of external financial resources.
• Increase the quality of community-owned infrastructure for collecting and processing and the distance remaining to reach a "processing center".
• Reduction of migration to urban centers and / or the USA
• Increase young people studying at the secondary level and university.

June 02, 2015 16:20

Good conversation. Compliance with sustainability standards and appropriate training are important for achieving desired impacts at the field level however they may often not be sufficient. Appropriate analytics (not overkill, but reliable and well-targeted) should serve as the basis for any prescriptive approach that determines what to invest in - such as training, credit, access investments, etc.  Without that basic understanding - one that must necessarily involve the producer community or supply chain that we are targeting - it is difficult to be effective with ay intervention and difficult to understand the outcomes we get from any interventions.

Yes, we often find that there are inadequate economic incentives to implement changes in a production system but a sound understanding of the local context can also unearth different reasons and key obstacles that maintain the status quo and it is this investment in a balanced understanding with local partners that can illuminate the most appropriate path forward.

May 26, 2015 17:58

“Standards must measure what matters and manage it” according to Jason Clay (WWF) at the ISEAL conference in Berlin last week.

As the conference looked specifically at impact by voluntary sustainability standards Jason Clay argued that often more attention is given to practice (measuring compliance) instead of performance (measuring outcome). He challenged the standards community to think about the growing food availability need while at the same time we want to limit the footprint – and what this challenge means for their work approaches, impact and linkages with others.  

Thus leading to his comment that maybe standards should limit the number of issues they measure, work with far less indicators and learn from findings in order to create substantial impact.

So what do you think?

May 27, 2015 17:49

I agree with Jason's statement - in principle.

But it is important to remember that measuring can occur on various level:

- as part of a standard systems Monitoring and Evalaution program  AND/OR

- through performance indicators in the standard itself   AND/OR

- by setting performance targets in indivdual management plans

What we shouldn't forget is that despite the value of having clear performance goals, there is also a value in supporting producers by defining good practices. some rpoducers will be able to define best practices themselves whereas others higlhy value the support and guidance given trhough standards and training materials (and just defining the perfromance goal would not be enough).


It was an interesting discussion at the ISEAL conference. in our ''fish bowl" session the other key quote (next to Jason's) was:

"the impact of standards and certification is limited if it is not combined with a more holistic approach" (Cocoa barometer)

well, my thinking here is that the sentence is wrong, standards and certification should not be COMBINED with a more holistic approach, they should be PART OF IT!

June 19, 2015 15:54

Estimadas y estimados Colegas:


Cómo comunicar el impacto.


Es una tarea importante, que sin lugar a dudas debe mejorar. En el marco del principio del principio institucional de “compartir conocimientos y experiencias”; les damos a conocer las principales actividades, que hicimos en “Acción” y las que estamos haciendo en “PRODERT”.

  • Los informes administrativos y técnicos de los proyectos son participativos y deben ser aprobados por sus actores.
  • Se dio información, la que fue reflexionada por las y los asistentes al f2f de “NRM”, desarrollado en el año  2006 en Panajachel, Sololá, Guatemala.
  • Las sistematizaciones son publicadas, las que fueron participativas y reflexionadas, por las organizaciones usuarias.
  • Se están creando condiciones en “PRODERT”; para que de acuerdo a la metodología inherente al concepto de desarrollo económico rural territorial, “DERT”; todo lo actuado sea conocido, reflexionado y aprobado por las sub mesas y mesas técnicas sectoriales específicas de cada actividad productiva y por la mesa “DERT” territorial, (municipal).
  • La metodología que se está aplicando en verificación social, contempla potenciar la participación en la ejecución y sus controles, de todas y todos los (as) miembros.
  • Adicionalmente en “PRODERT” se presentan los resultados a todos los órganos, (dirección, control, ejecución) de las organizaciones copartícipes del proceso de trabajo, así como también al sistema de consejos de desarrollo a nivel comunitario, “COCODE”, municipal, “COMUDE” y si fuera el caso, a nivel departamental, “COMUDE”.
  • Se participa recurrentemente, en foros, talleres y eventos, relacionados con encadenamientos.
May 28, 2015 18:52

[English summary] Pedro Roberto Hoffmann expressed:

Communicating the impact.
Communicating impact is a task that should be undoubtedly improved. Here are some of the things we've done on our "Accion" and "PRODERT" Projects on this regard:

  • Administrative and technical reports of the projects are created in a participatory manner and must be approved by its actors.
  • Information was givenand  reflected upon by the attendees and f2f of "NRM", developed in 2006 in Panajachel, Solola, Guatemala.
  • Systematization processes are released, those which were participatory and reflected upon, to the user organizations.
  • Conditions are being created so that all proceedings are be known, reflected upon and approved by the sub bureaus and bureaus of specific technical committees of each productive activity and the territorial "DERT" bureau "DERT".
  • The methodology applied includes enhancing the participation in the implementation and control of each and every (new) members.
  • Results are presented to all the bodies  of the partners organizations (execution body, controlling body, management body), as well as the system of development councils at the community level, "
  • We repeatedly participate in forums, workshops and related events.
June 02, 2015 16:41

APORTE DEL COLEGA LUIS ALFONSO VELASQUEZ FUENTES,  Coordinador Territorial del PRODERT San Marcos Guatemala.


Dado que comatimos este Foro entre los colegas del PRODERT; envío un valioso aporte, porque no está inscrito.

Cómo comunicar el impacto.


Es importante entender que el impacto refleja de manera positiva las acciones que se realizan dentro de una actividad económica, por lo que comunicarlo de manera real y entendible por el usuario final facilitara su entendimiento y aplicación.  Cuando hable de DESARROLLO RURAL y actividades relacionadas con DERT, es indispensable hacer nuestro mejor esfuerzo para explicar a los usuarios del proyecto cuales son los escenarios que podemos tener al momento de desarrollar e implementar una actividad económica específica, de la forma más coherente posible.


En la comunicación del impacto es importante tratar a todos los miembros de las redes empresariales por igual, sin ningún tipo de distinción, sexo, origen racial o étnico, religión o creencias, discapacidad, edad u orientación sexual; haciéndoles ver que todos contribuyen de manera positiva para lograr los objetivos y resultados de una actividad económica. 


Es también de suma importancia saber escuchar las opiniones de todas las partes involucradas en el proceso DERT, para que se sientan parte de los impactos alcanzados y favorecer con ello un ambiente de confianza y de interés.


Para lograr una mejor comunicación y comprensión del impacto en el enfoque DERT, este se realiza de abajo hacia arriba dando una participación prioritaria a los usuarios del proyecto y con ellos se logran acciones en consenso.  Quienes formamos parte del proceso de comunicación de los impactos debemos asumir la responsabilidad de hacerlo de manera responsable y acorde a objetivos y metas alcanzadas en la implementación de una actividad económica.


Si bien es cierto lo anteriormente descrito no son acciones puntuales de cómo debemos comunicar el Impacto, considero que son elementos que hay que considerar para hacer que los involucrados en los procesos para el logro de los impactos se apropien del proceso para lograr estos impactos y sea más fácil su comprensión socializar estos impactos.


Lo principal es tener claro el alcance de los impactos, posteriormente a ellos se inicia el proceso de socialización en los diferentes espacios de concertación (COCODES, COMUDES, CODEDES, SUB-MESAS, MESAS PRODUCTIVAS, COFETARN, entre otras) y desde ahí se inicia la incidencia para fortalecer las actividades económicas y tener un mejor impacto.


May 29, 2015 16:20

[English summary] by Alfonso Velasquez Fuentes, posted by Pedro Roberto Hoffmann

Communicating the impact
(based on the PRODERT Project, Guatemala)

  • It is important to understand that "impact" positively reflects the actions taken within an economic activity, so informing about it in a real and understandable manner will make it easier to final users to learn about it and further apply it. When talking about rural development and related activities, it is essential to do our best to consistently explain to users what the potential project-scenarios are when developing and implementing a specific economic activity.


  • When communicating impact it is important to treat all members of the business networks the same, without any distinction based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation; making them see that all contribute positively to achieving the objectives and results of the economic activity.


  • It is also important to listen to the opinions of all parties involved in the process so that they feel part of the impacts achieved, and therefore foster an environment of trust and interest.


  • For better communicating and understanding the impact, it is best done from the bottom up participation approach, giving priority to project users, so their actions are achieved by consensus. Those who communicate such impact must take responsibility to do so responsibly and in line with objectives and goals achieved in the implementation of an economic activity.


While the above are not specific actions of "how we communicate the impact", I think those are elements to consider for those involved in the processes, so they take ownership of the process to achieve these impacts , and also understand and socialize these impact.

The main thing is to be clear about the extent of impacts, and then to start the socialization process in the different areas of consensus (in Guatemala, COCODES, COMUDES, CODEDES, SUB-Tables, PRODUCTIVE, COFETARN, among others) and from there begins advocacy to strengthen economic activity and have a better impact.


June 02, 2015 17:03

Training producers? Yes, if carefully thought through. Verifying compliance with sustainability standards? Yes, definitely. Measures to address key obstacles? Yes. Economic incentives to implement changes? Maybe, but not always. Enough as a package to ensure positive change? Definitely not. Enough as a package to measure impact? Dangerously not.

I'll try to explain...

Sustainability systems can not and should not be expected to provide all the answers, but their theories of change should show how they co-ordinate with others who can provide those other answers.

Turning to impact measurement. It's growing fast as a discipline, but it still has such a long way to go. For instance I see little that's considering, let alone measuring, unintended or negative consequences. If we help a producer with knowledge to get certified and market access for certified products, is there another, less accessible producer losing a more fragile livelihood? Or perhaps we're tying a producer to an unpredictable market. If we're serious about measuring impacts these really tough questions must not be swept under the carpet.

Frank, you also ask about communicating impact. Sadly I've seem so much unsatisfactory partial communication - even recently from respected organisations. 'Certified producers have increased incomes by 30%' (without any comparison to uncertified producers, or even an established causal link) or perhaps '70% of certified producers say their livelihoods have improved' (without any comparison to uncertified producers, or established causal link, or even any independence in the survey).

Now I'm a great supporter of standards systems and certification as a tool for positive change, ands have been for many years. But we really need to raise the game in impact measurement, and full marks to those trying to do so!


June 02, 2015 13:32

Thanks again for your contributions to this discussion. We heard that achieving impact also requires mastering the production system (including processing), diversification of market channels, and managing risks. Standard systems and those who use them need to coordinate with others who can complement their work, e.g. to trigger public-private investment in infrastructure.

Concerning the measurement challenge we learned from Daniele (who by the way is a true expert in this field, see his work at that reliable and well-targeted analytics are required to identify where to invest and what obstacles to address - thus closing the loop to achieving more impact!

Impact measurement obviously needs to go beyond verifying compliance with standards - it needs to measure performance. Mike reminded us that often this is not done properly, as no data is collected from comparison groups, and unintended negative impact is mostly not even looked at.

I wonder: Are there any good examples how impact is measured - and communicated? Anybody dares to share about their work - even if it may not be perfect yet? Well, learning from failure is of course also worth sharing...

June 10, 2015 17:31

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Véase más abajo para la versión en español


Dear Community

We want to thank you for the insightful comments and experiences shared in the forum. Today we officially close this discussion.
A summary will be posted in this page (linked to our library), and you will also receive it via email.
I’d like to thank Frank and Marjoleine for the thoughtful moderation of this forum, and the ITC  team for the continuous assistance.


Bonjour à tous
Merci pour avoir partagé dans ce forum de discussion toutes vos expériences, pensées et contributions - tout est vraiment très utile!
Aujourd'hui, nous fermons officiellement ce forum de discussion. Tout prochainement nous afficherons un compte rendu ici, celui-ci sera envoyé par courriel et également disponible dans la bibliothèque de la plateforme.
Je tiens à remercier nos modérateurs, Frank et Marjoleine, pour alimenter ce forum. Un grand merci à l'équipe de soutien technique de l'équipe ITC pour leur appui en continu.


Estimadas y estimados
Les queremos agradecer haber participado en esta discusión con sus ideas y experiencias. Oficialmente hoy se cierra esta discusión.
El resumen será publicado aquí en un par de días (ligado a la libraría de esta web), y además se los enviaremos por email.
Quiero agradecer a Frank y Marjoleine por haber moderado este fórum, y al equipo de ITC por su apoyo.

June 22, 2015 18:46

*** Discussion Summary – Résumé de la Discussion – Resumen de la Discusión***

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We have summarized the e-discussion “Achieving, measuring and communicating impact” in English, French and Spanish. Please find the summaries here:


Chère Communauté de SustainabilityXchange

Nous avons résumé la discussion en ligne “Atteindre, mesurer et communiquer l’impact” en anglais, français et espagnol.

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Estimados miembros de SustainabilityXchange

Hemos hecho el resumen de la discusión “Lograr, medir y comunicar el impacto”, en Español, Inglés y Francés. Para verlos, haga click en:


June 26, 2015 17:07