CSR and Sustainability, Deforestation

Excellent stats and infographic on the drivers of deforestation, and some comments on business and institutional reform

This new website looks like a pretty useful resource, from the Forest Peoples Programme,  on the links between commercial agriculture, deforestation, community land rights and human rights.

Now, of course FPP specialise in making large companies uncomfortable on land and community rights issues as a campaigning/activist NGO. That’s no bad thing, I just mention it as one should know the objectives of ones sources.

There’s what looks to me, to be a helpful infographic below, and here’s a few stats from the site that might pique your interest: (All facts according to the site, with references on their site):

  • Commercial farming drives more than 2/3 of forest clearance in Latin America, more than 1/2 in Asia and over 1/3 in Africa (and rising).
  • Soybean cropping is the 2nd largest global driver of tropical deforestation by area.
  • Cattle ranching is a primary driver in the Colombian and Peruvian Amazon and was expanding in 2017.67
  • Illegal logging accounts for over 70% of forest degradation in Africa and Asia.

Dynamics of deforestation and rights abuses



COMMENT: Looking through the site, and in particular this box below, it does seem to me the issues are often/mostly about institutional challenges and the barriers that poorly functioning or corrupt institutions cause to stakeholders.

This is an area, understandably, that companies don’t like to talk about, less they are accused of meddling in politics, or being painted as “corporate colonialists”, or simply told by shareholders this is not their business. Involvement in this tricky area of institutional development and the resulting social capital (trust in society that justice works) gains IS going to be key in the coming decades.

The question, as ever, is HOW can companies support institutional/governance and anti-corruption improvements in a practical way? *Blind trusts/ funds may be one way.

There are also others, such as targeted NGO support, where politics allows. But to me, this is both the biggest and must difficult area companies face in sustainable development. I wrote a report on this years ago. It’s here if you are interested. Now, check this out below:

Some further useful facts from: https://rightsanddeforestation.org/policy-papers/dynamics-of-deforestation-and-rights-abuses/

  • Forestry crime including corporate crimes and illegal logging account for up to $152 billion every year, more than all official development aid combined.88

  • As much as 100 ha of forest are cleared each day for commercial coca production in Colombia.89

  • In Guyana and Peru, the drugs trade funds rapid and aggressive mining expansion causing human rights abuse and permanent forest loss

  • Drug traffickers and cartels in Colombia own at least half (4 million hectares) of the country’s fertile land.90

  • In countries such as Indonesia, Cameroon and Guyana, corruption and illegality are enabled by lack of transparency in land use and concession decisions.

  • Environmental impacts studies legally required for forest clearance licences in countries such as Paraguay, Liberia and Malaysia are often missing, weak or are never undertaken.91

  • 40% of timber extraction in Cameroon is estimated to be illegal.

  • Corruption in the issuance of land clearance licences is a common cause of illegality in Malaysia.92

  • In Paraguay vast areas of forest are the subject of irregular and illegal land titles (“tierras malhabidas”).

Lots of further relevant posts on all this, and on zero/net/2020 no deforestation commitments and progress, are at: http://sustainablesmartbusiness.com/2018/02/no-deforestation-and-the-need-for-brave-steps-no-net-deforestation-could-make-a-come-back/

*Blind trusts/funds: Here’s how it could work:

A fund is set up and governed by an independent board of individuals whose reputations and motivations are beyond question.

Part of the fund’s mission would be to run training, capacity building and monitoring programmes for vitally important areas (customs reform, buildings and health and safety inspection) and offer public reporting and monitoring in return for funds from business, development agencies and others.

This structure, open for debate, challenge and discussion, could allow companies to fund important training and capacity-building challenges without having direct decision-making control over which tranches of money go where.

This helps eliminate the “corporate colonialist” barrier to taking effective action on institutional capacity issues, which rightly strikes fear in the heart of so many chief executives.

Of course, one key element would be making a difference that development funds have not been able to. There’s plenty of money going to waste already.

But in focused areas, such as technical inspections or customs reform, business inputs, carefully managed, can surely make a difference.

The fund would not be easily managed. It would suffer attacks from both business lobby groups and campaigning NGOs. But in the absence of a better idea, this is surely worth a try.

Further reading on institutional reform:

Why business needs to embrace institutional reform at long last

Our forthcoming events (most relevant in bold)

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