Articles, posts and podcasts about sustainable supply chains, mostly

Deforestation, Human Rights

Fights of the future: consumer goods vs. coal and forests vs. people

People vs Environment, few simple solutions

A few recent articles brought the potential for these future conflicts, and others, to mind recently.

Forestry and paper companies seeking to conserve high carbon stock forest in Indonesia have been attacked for restricting the movement and land of ‘forest peoples’.

Equally at Davos the fight between coal and consumer goods firms has become more obvious.

Take forestry first. One of the biggest challenges, alongside plantation management, corruption, governance issues and long term financial planning, is people.

It’s all very well not cutting down trees, but what will happen to people who used to work doing that?

That’s the conundrum facing executives in paper companies in places such as Indonesia.

Environmental issues have become human rights issues. And green NGOs are not often well equipped to help. Social NGOs often care more about the people than the environment.

A fight of the future? It may well be.

Equally, we now see many large companies working in commodities, from Coke to Unilever, to Nestle and PepsiCo, taking very serious interest in issues such as climate change and what it may do to their supply chain resilience.

Opposing them is the coal industry, which argues that cost of doing anything serious about climate change outweights the benefits.

A fight of the future? It may well be. Forest Ethics seem determined to help make it so.

Both of these examples I think highlight the shifting landscape in responsible business.

We live in interesting times, and odd alliances, and unforseen fights, direct or via proxies, are part of the not too distant future. 

(I’ll be in Indonesia next week, partly find out more about how these conflicts may be resolved, in both Sumatra and Java. I will report back in due course)