As a pro-business sustainability / responsible capitalism advocate, I’ve felt for a long time that the campaign against APP by NGOs, journalists, activists and other citizens, has been about more than the company itself.
APP’s refusal to cut out deforestation from its supply chain has been emblematic of the old way of doing business for a long long time.
The strategy of denial, counter-lobbying with weak/missed targets and greenwashing has been decried by science-based campaign groups in particular.
Personally I have seen APP as the toughest nut to crack (leaving aside oil & gas companies who have failed to diversify) in global business.
The campaign to persuade the company to reform on environmental and social issues has been running for nearly as long as I can remember, around a decade at least.
Today though, the game has changed. I won’t go into all the details here, they will follow in the pages of Ethical Corporation in the coming months and years.
What you should know is that APP has done a deal with Greenpeace and the Forest Trust to create an agreed path forward that all sides agree on.
This is a momentus day for the environmental movement. Make no mistake.
If APP, Greenpeace and the Forest Trust can work together (as the latter two have done with APP’s sister company Golden-Agri Resources for a couple of years or so), then there is virtually no company on earth that cannot be partnered with by constructive NGOs.
In short, APP has committed today to:
• Suspension of natural forest clearance which applies to all suppliers
• Protection of all forests, including those on peatland
• High Carbon Stock assessments to be implemented
• Adoption of international best practice for rights of indigenous peoples
and local communities
• Independent monitoring by NGOs (this is the really important bit, to make sure the above happens)
So well done Asia Pulp & Paper. Better ten years late than never.
Now let’s see if you can make this happen sustainably.
I’m optimistic that it can, and I hope we’ll look back on today as a turning point in global sustainable forestry and sustainable business in general.
(Update/Comment: It’s easy to view deforestation purely as an environmental issue. But it’s just as much a social issue in many circumstances. For example, imagine what happens to local incomes when bulldozers are switched off. Plantations need less labour. Managing these issues will be key for APP and its partners. They will need considered international and local support to make it work. A sustainable situation that sees income systems changed and adapted at a very local level will be an expensive challenge.)