“Everyone loves a good webinar”. That’s what my dear old grandmother used to say.
Actually, she didn’t. For her the internet was something that happened to other people.
But she would have loved this one, as she was a big fan of deforestation-free supply chains (that’s true, she spent a lot of time in Malaysia back when they had some forests)
My dear old gran aside (she has passed, bless her), you might consider joining a panel discussion webinar type thing, tomorrow, co-hosted by Forest Trends and Innovation Forum featuring the new Supply Change report, Tracking Corporate Commitments to Deforestation-free Supply Chains, 2016.
This webinar, which will not be dull, and will not have PowerPoint (hooray), will examine trends among corporate commitments to reducing deforestation from the “big four” agricultural commodities – palm, timber & pulp, soy, and cattle.
Expert speakers (and me) will reflect on the report’s key findings and analysis from their perspective, while also highlighting the value of disclosure, transparency, and accountability.
You can’t ask for much more than that on a Tuesday, now can you?
In conversation we’ll have: Stephen Donofrio and Ben McCarthy at Forest Trends, Jillian Gladstone from CDP, Marco Albani of the Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA), Ignacio Gavilan from the The Consumer Goods Forum(CGF), plus a few comments from me at the end.
Some of what will be discussed includes the recent Supply-change.org findings that:
- Current disclosure is insufficient as public information on quantifiable progress is available for only one in three commitments. Even among pledges whose target dates have already passed, companies have disclosed progress on fewer than half.
- Companies are most likely to make commitments toward palm, and timber & pulp. Of companies active in palm, 61% have adopted pledges, compared with only 15% of those companies active in cattle. The disparity is alarming because it is estimated that cattle production causes 10 times more deforestation than palm.
- Companies that operate “upstream” (producers, processors, and traders) are more likely to make commitments than their “downstream” counterparts (manufacturers and retailers) – and their pledges are potentially more impactful.
- Upstream actors represent just 26% of tracked companies, but 80% have made a commitment, compared with 62% of downstream companies with a commitment.
- Most commitments target the year 2020. Although target dates for 36% of commitments have already passed, companies continue to work towards them and/or replace them with new target dates.
- Commitments most often cite sourcing or producing commodities certified to be sustainable as a factor toward goals and implementation. This is especially true for palm, and timber & pulp.
If you can’t make the webinar, here are some (not all) of the take aways:
- Change is happening. This report has described advancement on the issue of reducing deforestation in corporate supply chains within even just the last year. High-profile action on palm has had success in raising awareness of agricultural commodity-related deforestation. Other commodities such as soy and cattle deserve greater attention given their outsized role in global deforestation rates.
- Change is incremental. Standards and certification schemes, despite their weaknesses, are a first step for many companies toward sustainable supply chains. Support for the development of nascent standards (cattle and soy) may be worth prioritizing above efforts to improve established standards (palm, and timber & pulp), though support for all is clearly needed.
- Change is worth communicating. Civil society engagement on these issues has been extremely effective, especially considering the relatively short time period of some efforts. The High Carbon Stock Approach Group and Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 are just two examples of productive cooperation between civil society and businesses. Given the level of stakeholder engagement, it is in a company’s best interest to communicate progress toward its commitment. Utilizing an approach with consistent, comparable, and timely provision of data is ideal to maintaining transparency essential to the process and in assessing progress. CDP offers one such globally standardized disclosure platform.
- Change needs to be measurable. While it is critical to communicate progress, a common framework for how to measure progress is also essential. Establishing a verifiable method for measuring impacts on the ground is paramount with 2020 targets on the horizon for both individual companies and collective action like the NYDF and the CGF zero net deforestation goal.
- Change can’t happen in isolation. Voluntary commodity commitments from companies are commendable. But landscape-level change may only occur once governments establish and enforce jurisdictional-wide protections for forests.In addition, as financial institutions further realize the potential negative returns of investments with buried deforestation risk, this stakeholder group will become more and more influential. Companies have been the trailblazers; financial institutions and governments need to catch up along the path toward deforestation-free commodity agriculture.
Sign up at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2605361347385847044 or get the report here, or rock out and get both.
Our forthcoming events
- How business can tackle deforestation: Asia under the lens – 27th-28th September – Singapore
- How business can tackle modern slavery and forced labor – 17th October – Washington DC
- How business can engage smallholder farmers – 19th-20th October – Washington DC
- How business can better manage human rights risks – 24th-25th October – London
- Sustainable seafood supply chains – 15th-16th November – London
- Sustainable Sugarcane – 1st-2nd December – London