The Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) Partnership is committed to transforming the agricultural sector in Tanzania’s Southern corridor, by catalyzing inclusive and environmentally friendly investments. Achieving this aim requires plans and investments that honor and preserve Tanzania’s natural resources, ecosystems and biodiversity; develop profitable production systems and value chain operations that are environmentally sustainable and socially responsible, make the best possible use of available natural resources and are sensitive to climate change; create commercial opportunities for smallholder farmers and their communities that will allow for sustainable wealth creation; and conform to local, national and international regulations and standards.

The SAGCOT Green Reference Group (GRG) is a platform of multi-stakeholders that works as an informal advisory body to the SAGCOT Centre at both the national and the cluster levels. It is composed of a representative group from the government (VPO, MoA, MNRT, ME, MoW, MLHHS), private sector (companies and farmers), donor community (RNE, UNEP), and civil society (WWF, CARE International, TNC, IUCN and AWF), along with independent scientific advisors. GRG was established to assist SAGCOT Centre Ltd to coordinate and monitor the environmental aspects in all programs within the SAGCOT region. Administratively, GRG is co-chaired by the Vice President Office (representing Government of Tanzania) and CEO Round Table (CEOrt), representing the private sector.  At the cluster level, the GRG is managed under the respective Regional Administrative Secretary as well as a representative private sector company within the cluster to ensure the sustainability agenda is well integrated in all SAGCOT cluster activities. Public and private investor partners in the cluster are not only legally bound to work within the existing regulations but also professionally bound to encourage environmentally-friendly and socially sustainable agricultural growth, working closely with SAGCOT Centre. This effort is supported by an Inclusive Green Growth (IGG) tool that SAGCOT uses to help small to large farmers/companies to understand what inclusive green growth is and how to promote it within their management practices.

The primary objective of the GRG is to provide SAGCOT Centre Ltd and its partners with guidance, advice and recommendations on environmental and social issues in the SAGCOT region. This guidance will include development of opportunities for inclusive green growth and climate-smart agriculture, as well as identification and mitigation of environmental risks and damage. The GRG is also tasked with assisting SAGCOT Centre ltd in identifying key gaps in green growth efforts, aligning activities of partners and other stakeholders and prioritizing programs and institutions to partner with. Also to support the SAGCOT Centre in promoting and raising awareness on inclusive green growth opportunities.

The advice provided by the GRG is non-binding and guided by the Precautionary Principle, the Polluter Pays Principle and the UN Global Compact Principles on Environment. Making wise and sustainable use of natural resources and encouraging innovation for green growth is the fundamental element of GRG’s approach, as per provisions of the 2004 Environmental Management Act. GRG’s advice is based on the long-term sustainability implications (10-30 years) of planning decisions.

The GRG membership reflects the inclusive Public-Private Partnership character of SAGCOT. It also lays out the different interests and technical competences needed to oversee such a diverse and complex operation. The structure of the GRG is designed to facilitate the fullest possible participation by the principal stakeholder groups - the Government of Tanzania, the donor community, the private sector and civil society – all while remaining focused and efficient. All the members are registered partners of SAGCOT with the exception of expat parties contracted by the GRG to provide specialty services and/or expertise.

The GRG is designed to ensure delivery of output in a timely and efficient manner, responding flexibly to demands made upon it by the SAGCOT Centre Ltd. The GRG will ensure it can guarantee access to independent technical expertise and scientific advice. SAGCOT Centre Ltd therefore requires that the members of the GRG transmit information and solicit advice and orientation from the broader stakeholder community from which they are drawn. Membership in the GRG is at the invitation of the SAGCOT Centre and GRG Secretariat and decision-making within the GRG is on a consensus basis.

In May 2016 GRG established a cluster level GRG that provides  an investment guiding tool to SAGCOT Partners in the Ihemi Cluster. Between May and November 2017, GRG has developed an investment guiding tool which was used to assess 15 commercial investments on how their operations are compliant with SAGCOT Green Growth Principles. The assessment report helped government regulatory authorities to design training modules to create awareness on regulatory compliance with SAGCOT Partners. In May 2016 and 2017, GRG organized the Land Use Dialogue (LUD) – a multi-country engagement platform coordinated by The Forests Dialogue along with a variety of local and global partners that seek to gather knowledge and lead processes enabling responsible business and investment, improved governance and inclusive development in landscapes. LUD aims to understand and improve the practical implementation of the ‘landscape approach’ in order to address the often-competing interests of different stakeholders in a landscape, which is central to sustainable land management and key for broader economic and social development.