Luis Fernando Guedes

Ashoka Fellow
Piracicaba, Brazil
Fellow Since 2013


This profile was prepared when Luis Fernando Guedes was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2013.
The New Idea
Regardless of being a boon for Brazil’s GDP and one of the biggest employers in its workforce, the agriculture sector has historically been one of the country’s largest contributors to environmental degradation and poor working conditions. Believing that agricultural production can work in concert with the environment and even help protect it, Luis Fernando Guedes created the first unified agriculture certification in Brazil to differentiate beneficial and sustainable agricultural practices from harmful ones. Through certification, Luis Fernando systemically creates market based incentives for farmers to not engage in destructive farming practices, instead encouraging behavior that is compatible with sustainable development and with the goal of countering deforestation across the region.

Through Imaflora (Institute for Agricultural and Forestry Management Certification), Luis Fernando set the social-environmental certification agenda in Brazil and created the first agricultural certification standard in the country using sugarcane as a pilot crop in 1998. He noticed that social and environmental issues are the same across different agricultural sectors and that certification demands credibility and support from the different actors in the field and society in general. Once he identified this framework, Luis Fernando brought stakeholders together, both locally and internationally, to build a coalition of partners to create consolidated monitoring, evaluation, and certification standards across different crops.

Luis Fernando is now at an inflection point with a strategy to spread the success cases of best practices to the mainstream. He realized that research and knowledge are the keys to scale instead of continuing to perform certifications. As a result, he is systematizing Imaflora’s experiences and measuring the impact to spread awareness of and methodology for the positive impacts of sustainable agriculture. Now aiming to change the paradigm of large-scale deforestation across the region, he is implementing a strategy to influence major public and corporate decision makers.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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