The UK government has proposed to introduce a new law to prohibit large business operating in the UK from using products that are from illegally deforested land as per local laws. Businesses that fail to carry out due diligence on their supply chains and make that information public would face fines. This proposed legislation will be on consultation for six weeks. Critics say that the proposal is flawed partly because the local laws on forest protections might be absent or have loopholes.
Collected news links from external sources related to topics concerning the Book Chain Project.
Unilever is to partner with U.S. tech company Orbital Insight on a pilot project to trace agricultural commodities sourced, especially palm oil. It claims to be using geolocation data and satellite imagery to identify the individual farms and plantations supplying the palm oil mills in its extended supply chain. The pilot project will be tested out at palm oils mills in Indonesia and soy mills in Brazil, working jointly with its established supply chain monitoring projects.
As migrant workers continue to be on the frontline of the collective response to Covid-19, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) have published new employer guidance on measures to protect them.
The guidance highlights the role of the private sector and is presented in five categories: physical and mental health; living and working conditions; economic support; ethical recruitment; and supply chain transparency. Click here to download the guidance for migrant workers.
This report by independent environmental charity Earthsight finds illegal logging in FSC-certified supply chains in Ukraine. Focussed on the Carpathian forests, it found around 100 sites are being felled illegally each spring, when silence periods should protect several endangered animal species including brown bears, wolves and Eurasian lynx. While regulations require Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) before sanitary felling is conducted, no EIAs were found to have been carried out. Evidence sited by Earthsight includes the Ukrainian State Environmental Inspectorate (SEI), local environmental organisations, and research commissioned by WWF Germany.
Earthsight claims this illegal logging has not been picked up in FSC audits because of systematic issues with FSC that go beyond Ukraine: conflicts of interest as auditing bodies are paid by the logging companies they certify; inadequate oversight by Assurance Services International (ASI) which should be holding the auditing bodies to account but is argued to have failed to do so. The report documents a wide array of cases where FSC-certified firms have been accused of illegal logging, clearance of High Conservation Value (HCV) forests, and human rights abuses from all over the world – including in places such as Brazil, China, Congo, Indonesia, Peru, Romania, Russia, Ukraine. Earthsight highlights that FSC has only investigated 13 companies in its 27-year history – 0.02% of the more than 44,000 it has certified.
In response, FSC states it is fully aware of the issues in Ukraine, and insists that whenever illicit acts are identified or reported they are investigated. IKEA says it has started its own investigations, commissioned audits from a 3rd-party independent audit company, asked questions to ASI, and pledges that if any illegal wood is indicated in its product it will take immediate action.
Earthsight’s report focuses on IKEA because, as the biggest buyer of wood in the world, it has the most influence to drive positive change. However, the issues found by Earthsight apply to the publishing industry as much as they do to IKEA. Therefore, the Book Chain Project will further look into Earthsight’s findings and update you as soon as we decide what further action to take.
According to an investigation by the environmental charity Earthsight, in the area of forest - Velykyi Bychkiv within Ukraine, loggers appear to be taking advantage of loopholes that allow for “sanitary felling” during the silent periods in the spring and early summer from 2018 to 2020. Some of the wood in question is found in the supply chain of Swedish furniture maker Ikea, who denied wrongdoing and immediately began their own investigations into all parties mentioned in Earthsight’s report.
Inconsistent business action in response to Covid-19 (novel coronavirus), first reported from Wuhan, China
Includes company responses, the latest jobs and events announcements.
• Declared a global emergency, the novel coronavirus impacts workers’ rights around the world as employers seek to protect business and supply chains.
• Migrant workers from Malaysia reportedly return home without owed wages as employers try to force them to stay.
• Employees of American Airlines concerned about unknown health threats file a USA lawsuit to halt flights to China; airline has stated it is “taking precautions”.
• Technology firms allegedly maintain manufacturing operations despite government calls for companies to halt work to stop coronavirus spread.
A coalition of NGOs send an open letter to the Consumer Good Forum calling on them to act on their 2020 deforestation commitments
Ten years ago, the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) made a commitment to end deforestation in member companies’ supply chains by 2020. As 2020 approaches, the companies will inevitably miss the deadline. An international coalition of NGOs called this out CGF members and relayed the following expectations in this open letter:
• Communicate a mandatory requirement ensuring suppliers comply with ‘No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation (NDPE) commitments.
• Ensure human rights are respected and compliance with international standards of Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC).
• Establish comprehensive, proactive, and transparent monitoring systems that rapidly detect non-compliance across supply chains and require implementation of the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) for agricultural development involving land-use change. Assessments should use the Integrated High Conservation Value (HCV)- HCSA Assessment Manual and be approved by the High Conservation Value Resource Network (HCVRN) Quality Review Panel before development
• Publish guidelines to address non compliances, including thresholds for suspension and grievance mechanisms
• Provide incentives and support to upstream suppliers to manage risk
• Publish public facing reports on progress
On 23 July, the Booksellers Association launched “Green Bookselling: A Manifesto for the BA, Booksellers and the Book Industry”, as part of its ongoing commitment to reducing waste across its membership and throughout the supply chain. The manifesto calls on publishers and distributors to phase out single-use cardboard in favour of recyclable materials and to take up environmental commitments, including reviewing both the delivery and "inherently wasteful" returns processes, and stopping sending out unsolicited book proofs and marketing materials to booksellers.
The European Commission set out a new framework of actions to protect and restore the world's forests, which addresses both the supply and demand side of forest products. It introduces measures for enhanced international cooperation with stakeholders and Member States, promotion of sustainable finance, better use of land and resources, sustainable job creation and supply chain management, and targeted research and data collection. It also launches an assessment of possible new regulatory measures to minimise the impact of EU consumption on deforestation and forest degradation.
An 18-month investigation conducted by Transparentem unearthed serious abuses at five apparel factories in Malaysia – hundreds of migrant workers had paid illegal recruitment fees that sometimes exceeded a year’s pay, while four of the factories retained the workers’ passports. The findings were presented to 23 western companies, fifteen of whom agreed to help remediate the five factories by defining specific resolutions. In addition, the American Apparel and Footwear Association – which includes Nike, Gap, Ralph Lauren and 120 other companies – announced a new policy on “responsible recruitment” that requires “supply chain partners” to make sure no workers pay recruitment fees and “workers retain control of their travel documents and have full freedom of movement”.
The Global Canopy's 'Forest 500' assesses the 350 most influential companies in forest-risk commodity supply chains and the 150 financial institutions that support them. Nearly half of the 500 assessed companies have made commitments to eliminate deforestation by 2020, but none of the companies and financial institutions assessed in 2018 are on track to meet their target in time.
The Accountability Framework initiative will organize a webinar to help people learn more about the framework. An overview of the Accountability Framework's principles and guidance related to setting commitments, taking action, and demonstrating progress will be presented.
The Accountability Framework is a set of common norms and guidance for establishing, implementing, and monitoring responsible supply chain commitments, aiming to help companies and others to set commitments, take action, demonstrate progress, and support broader positive impacts. The Accountability Framework initiative is led by a diverse group of civil society representatives including Forest People Program, Greenpeace, WRI, WWF, etc.
In the recent Forest forum meeting we shared Complicit in Corruption - a recent report written by non-profit Earthsight, highlighting the widespread corruption in Ukraine's forests, and revealing how illegality permeates the timber supply chain in Ukraine from harvest to export.
Earthsight spent two years running field and undercover investigations in Ukraine. Approximately 70% of Ukraine's timber exports enter the EU and Earthsight's investigations indicate that 40% of this timber is being illegally harvest or traded. The report also claims that a significant volume of illegally harvested timber has received the FSC stamp - the former chief of one of the largest timber producing state-forest enterprises admitted to Earthsight he had found it easy to circumvent FSC checks.
The Australian Modern Slavery Act passed in December 2018. The Act sets a Modern Slavery Reporting Requirement to require certain large businesses and other entities in Australia to make annual public reports - Modern Slavery Statements - on their actions to address modern slavery risks in their operations and supply chains.
Over the past few months, our annual Book Chain Project conference has been the focus for the team in London. The event involved a day of panel discussions and delved into topics on all aspects of the Book Chain Project, all under the theme of ‘The Story of Books’.
Set against panoramic views of the WWT London Wetlands Centre, we gathered together 11 speakers covering 5 sessions, and invited participating publishers, mills and suppliers to attend. Altogether, we had a packed room with over 60 people in attendance and speakers from a variety of companies.
The speakers covered various topics including; the economics behind recent pulp price rises; the various pressures on mill groups around the world; deforestation hotpots and NGO efforts to keep corporate commitments on track. We also dedicated a session to the issue of plastic where we had the lead Plastics Campaign manager from Friends of the Earth examining the different recyclable alternatives available and how these options could be implemented into the book making industry. In addition to that, with pressure to tackle human rights abuses in all supply chains from the Modern Slavery statements, we ran a session on human rights and heard some hard-hitting examples of corporate engagement to correct previous abuses with the help of the Forest Peoples Programme.
The day was a great success and ended with a tour of the wetlands and feedback has been incredibly positive with 50% of attendees rating the event as ‘Very Good’.
The Accountability Framework initiative (AFi) is a collaborative effort to accelerate progress and improve accountability for responsible supply chain commitments in agriculture and forestry. Recently, the initiative has released the first draft of their framework for improving accountability for responsible supply chain commitments in agriculture and forestry, including as set of the core principles & definitions, a practical operational guidance. The initiative is now preparing to expand on the principles in an operational manual, and they are inviting input and feedback from as many companies, government entities, non-profits, and other stakeholders as possible.
Pressure to meet fast fashion deadlines is leading to women working in Asian factories supplying Gap and H&M being sexually and physically abused, according to two separate reports published by Global Labour Justice on gender-based violence in garment supply chains. More than 540 female workers at factories that supply the Gap and H&M have described incidents of threats and abuse. The reports claim that these allegations recorded between January and May this year in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, are a direct result of pressure for quick turnarounds and low overheads. Gap and H&M are going to investigate the allegations and they welcome initiatives to tackle violence, including an ILO convention.
The Forest Trust have released a short video on their Respect programme which aims to address human rights issues in agricultural supply chains. It discusses some of the issues on plantations in Indonesia and in the manufacturing sector in China, and the worker-focused solutions they are implementing to tackle them.
A new study finds that illegal logging, coupled with weak state-run timber licensing systems, has led to massive timber harvesting fraud in Brazil, resulting in huge illicit harvests of Ipê trees. Ipê wood is largely shipped to the U.S. and Europe with the high value (up to $2,500 per cubic meter at export). Buyers all along the timber supply chain turn a blind eye toward fraud, with sawmills, exporters, and importers trusting the paperwork they receive, rather than questioning whether the lower prices they pay for Ipê and other timber may be due to timber laundering. This process is doing major damage to the Amazon. To reduce document fraud, the Brazilian federal government required that all states register or integrate their timber licensing systems within a national timber inventory and tracking system known as Sinaflor. While this should reduce fraudulent paperwork, better oversight of forest management plans and more onsite inspections of timber operations are needed also.
Labour agencies often play an important role in providing temporary workers to suppliers during peak times, helping you to avoid excessive working hours for supplier staff. But they also pose the modern slavery risks in their supply chains. In responding to the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and to help you reduce the modern slavery risks in the supplier chains. The Book Chain Project developed a Labour Agency Modern Slavery Checklist (“the Checklist”) to ensure that agency workers are not at risk from modern slavery. The members of the Book Chain project need your help to prevent modern slavery in the supply chain.