Q&A With Marco Albani, TFA 2020, on tackling deforestation

In advance of our upcoming Jakarta conference, with TFA 2020, here’s a Q&A with their director, Marco Albani, on their work, the changes they’ve observed and current/future issues.

TW: For those unfamiliar with TFA 2020, tell us a little about the work your group is doing, your history and objectives

MA: TFA 2020 is a global platform dedicated to reducing tropical deforestation. It focuses on the sourcing of four key agricultural commodities, which account for about half of all tropical forest loss: palm oil, soy, beef, and paper and pulp.

It is a platform for public-private collaboration and helps its partners take voluntary actions, individually and in combination, to reduce tropical deforestation in those four commodities.

It was born out of the zero deforestation commitments of the Consumer Goods Forum, and was launched by CGF and the US Government in Rio in 2012. Since then it has grown to include more than 100 partners, between governments, business, and civil society.

For the last two years TFA2020 has been supported by a full-time secretariat hosted at the World Economic Forum, with financial support from the governments of the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom. The Alliance support its partners actions through communication, convening, and through targeted analysis and advocacy.

A good example of the latter are our support for the Africa Palm Oil Initiative that has led to the Marrakesh Declaration for the Sustainable Development of the Oil Palm Sector in Africa, and our support for the assessment of progress on Goal 2 of the New York Declaration on Forests. You can find out more at www.TFA2020.org.

TW: Do business impacts get undue attention over Government responsibility when it comes to preventing deforestation? Are Governments being let off the hook by society, because they are harder to reach and influence?

I am strong believer in the impact that business can have on environmental issues. Large corporations have great power through their purchasing and investment policies. So business should be held to high standards, especially where it operates in regions that are struggling with governance and institutional capacity of government agencies. But we shouldn’t forget that governments have the responsibility to regulate the use of public goods.

Voluntary business commitments show what is possible, and raise the ambition level. Governments should then follow, so that the whole industry moves behind the leaders. And I am not talking just about tropical forest country governments here. Consumer country governments have an important role to play in fostering demand for sustainably produced commodities.

TW: More than 400 companies have made one sort of commitment or another to preventing deforestation. Now attention is turning to implementation. Some campaigners say even the leading companies are not putting enough resources in, particularly on the ground, to make a difference. What’s your view?

MA: Last year we co-sponsored the report on the NYDF Goal 2 Assessment, which looked exactly at the question of how much progress has been made. The picture is one of great progress from the early days, but also highlights the need for a strong recommitment to action.

Companies are moving to implementation, and often have made significant progress in carrying out deforestation-related risk assessments, entering in dialogue with suppliers, and reviewing procurement rules to be consistent with their commitments.

The area where more work is needed is the monitoring of progress and compliance with these policies. This is of course a complex arena, especially for a collaboration platform like TFA2020 to get into, because ceases to be pre-competitive, as it involves commercially sensitive matters.

TW: Jurisdictional approaches to preventing deforestation and protecting land. We’ve seen various models debated and some interesting projects initiated. Where do you see the successes so far, and is there challenge around transferable approaches from one place to another?

MA: The biggest success is in the momentum that the jurisdictional approach has been able to generate. We found over 34 jurisdictions engaged in some kind of jurisdictional program and relevant to the commodities we engage in. The need now is to move from strategies and design to actual implementation on the ground.

As TFA2020 we are organising implementation dialogues to help the jurisdictions in our network advance their program. We held one in February to muster support around the national implementation plans of the Africa Palm Oil Initiative in Liberia, Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire. And on September 26 we will hold one in Balikpapan, supporting the programs of East Kalimantan and South Sumatra.

We are also working with jurisdictions in Latin America, especially the State of Mato Grosso in Brazil, which was the first subnational jurisdiction to join TFA2020, and have held discussions with the State of Sabah in Malaysia. I believe this is a promising arena, where we should all put more effort to provide concrete support. The Balikpapan Challenge launched by the Governors Forest and Climate Task Force is a very concrete way business can get behind this agenda.

You can find out more at www.TFA2020.org

Innovation Forum and TFA2020 are working together on two forthcoming events focused on how business can work with others to tackle deforestation:

How business can tackle deforestation

17th-18th October 2017, Jakarta

Innovation Forum is partnering with Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, to deliver the third ‘How business can tackle deforestation’ conference in southeast Asia.

https://innovation-forum.co.uk/deforestation-jakarta.php

How business can tackle deforestation

The newest methodologies, technologies and industry examples for implementing zero deforestation policies

14th-15th November 2017, London

https://innovation-forum.co.uk/deforestation-london-2017.php