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.
Ministers attending the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP 24) to the UNFCCC adopted the 'Ministerial Katowice Declaration on Forests for Climate', which highlights the significant role of sustainable forest management in achieving climate change commitments in the Paris Agreement.
India “has the capacity to clean up, but not the political will”. This piece from the Economist’s Asia edition cites political apathy towards pollution and failures to listen to middle classes as two of the most significant factors in India’s continuing struggle with environmental protection. The country also shows mixed responses to their climate change commitments, as data shows a significant preference for coal power generation over cleaner gas-fired plants.
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.
EPN have published their third report on the state of the global paper industry, presenting an analysis of the world’s pulp and paper industry, and the commercial, social and environmental risks and opportunities facing it. The report examines the performance of the industry against each of the goals of the Global Paper Vision; 1) reducing global paper consumption and promote fair access to paper, 2) maximising recycled fibre content, 3) ensuring social responsibility, 4) sourcing fibre responsibly, 5) reducing greenhouse gas emissions, 6) ensuring clean production and 7) ensuring transparency and integrity. Key themes include the need to bring paper consumption down to sustainable levels, to address climate chain impacts across the supply chain and to drive action around commitments.
- Environmental Paper Network
- Climate chain
- ensuring clean production
- ensuring transparency and integrity
- Global Paper Industry
- Global Paper Vision
- maximising recycled fibre content
- Paper consumption
- promote fair access to paper
- pulp and paper industry
- reducing global paper consumption
- reducing greenhouse gas emissions
- sourcing fibre responsibly
- suring social responsibility
Even as the logging industry lobbies the Canadian government to further delay measures that would protect the country’s diminishing woodland caribou herds, research and satellite images of the boreal released last month by NRDC clearly illustrate the failure of voluntary industry commitments to protect woodland caribou habitat.
A report by World Economic Forum and Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 states that the transfer to deforestation-free supply chains could represent an investment opportunity of approximately US$ 200 billion annually. However, although companies are making commitments to deforestation-free pulp and paper in their supply chain, due to the underestimation of the risk, they may have issues meeting their time bound commitments.
"Zero deforestation” champion creates new risks for Indonesia’s forests and carbon-rich peatlands with mega-scale pulp mill
A recent study released by 12 international and Indonesian NGOs reveal that Asia Pulp &Paper (APP) is building one of the world’s largest pulp mills without a sustainable wood supply in South Sumatra. This analysis indicates that the current planted area owned by APP is insufficient in supporting this new mill as well as the 2 existing mills. This report suggests that APP may fail to meet its ‘zero deforestation commitments’ made in 2013 which included ‘100% sustainable plantation wood for pulp’.
Greenpeace have released a scorecard on 14 companies' progress on eliminating deforestation from their supply chains. Nestle and Ferrero scored the highest and Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson and PepsiCo scored the lowest. Greenpeace has encouraged these companies to work with an implementation partner to recognise their commitments as well as seek third party verifications on their progress.
As more than two-thirds of deforestation globally have been caused by commercial agriculture, both governments and private sectors have make many promises to tackle the problem. However, neither is likely to achieve goals by working on their own. Forest experts at Environmental Defence Fund (EDF) propose private sectors to work with REDD+ and other government initiatives, laws, and regulations as a new approach to implement forest commitments.
Scientists at UCL have defined three phases of global forest loss, the third of which we are living through now. They believe this third phase poses dangerous consequences if not correctly managed at a global scale. They believe the first phase happened over 6000 years ago when hunter-gatherers moved into tropical forests. The second phase saw the emergence of tropical agriculture. Despite altering the forest both of these phases maintained its overall health. The third phase – known as ‘Global Integration’ - has much greater impacts and is defined by distant decision-makers directing forest and agricultural land use. There have been positive moves, such as the UN’s New York Declaration of Forests agreeing to halt deforestation and restore 150 million hectares. But moves to expand the palm oil industry in to Africa are concerning and the study worries about the implications for the continent’s natural forests. The report calls for a renewed attention on forests at the Paris climate talks, where commitments to reduce deforestation and secure alternative finance are essential to success.
Environmentalists have called Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s commitments on reducing deforestation and supporting renewable energy ‘weak’ and representing little more than maintaining the status quo. Greenpeace Brazil say the target of restoring 12 million hectares of forest represents only half of the reforestation requirements under Brazil’s Forest Code and are just another commitment to comply with existing laws, not a bold new initiative.
Brazil has, however, worked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions more than any large country over the past decade, with emissions from all sectors having fallen by around 40% since 2005, with an 85% cut in carbon dioxide from deforestation.
Indonesia has long been accused of not managing forests in a sustainable manner and of failing to curb illegal logging and trade in regard to the export of forest-sourced products. The demand to implement sustainable forest management policies is getting stronger. The voluntary PEFC/IFCC (the Indonesia Forest Certification Co-Operation) certification has been seen as a “passport” for the companies to allow their products to entre countries that set sustainable forest management preconditions. Forestry companies’ policies need to be tested on the ground.
Archer Daniels Midland, the third largest global supplier of agricultural commodities and one of the world’s leading soy traders, is launching their Responsible Soy Standard. Under this new programme, yearly assessments will be conducted by expert third parties to determine if growers are complying with a number of environmental, legal, social and agronomic standards.
Despite soy production acting as a leading driver of deforestation across South America, palm oil has remained the priority commodity for companies in the fight against deforestation. While 117 private companies have pledged to reduce the impact of their involvement with palm oil, only 27 have done the same with soy. It is hoped that ADM’s commitment could lead to other organisations following their lead and expanding their commitments to deforestation across commodities.
Experts have warned, however, that although commitments like these have led to deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, the problem is simply being moved elsewhere. Much of the conversion of natural ecosystems for soy cultivation now occurs in other areas including Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay.
The think tank Innovation Forum held a two-day conference in Washington DC entitled “How business can tackle deforestation” attended by 160 representatives from companies, NGOs and investors. Whilst multiple major consumer goods companies have declared their commitments to achieving zero deforestation in their supply chains many others have raised concerns over the term and what the policy actually means in practice.
Rainforest Alliances’ recent position paper, ‘Halting Deforestation and Achieving Sustainability’ warned that zero deforestation commitments may not be enough to protect the world’s forests, due to two reasons. Firstly, though many major companies have signed up for these commitments, many other producers and buyers will not. These companies will continue to rely on deforestation to produce their goods, unless a way is found to address underlying issues, such as growing worldwide demand for forest products. Secondly, focusing solely on deforestation risks drawing attention away from other business practices within the commodities supply chain which may deserve equally urgent attention e.g. water scarcity and labour laws. In addition, the use of ‘zero deforestation’ as a catchphrase is problematic because there remains no clear agreement over what the term means. Rainforest Alliance emphasises the need for greater education, auditing and transparency so that consumers know the impact of what they are buying and are able to trust companies’ sustainability claims. Though a commendable step in the right direction, ‘zero deforestation’ commitments need to be backed up with comprehensive action plans if they are to deliver credible results.
1. Zero deforestation commitments. 2015 may be the year that many of the zero deforestation commitments are actually implemented.
2. Joko Widodo’s forest commitments. As Indonesia’s new president takes on the challenge of reforming the forestry sector, look out for greater scrutiny of concession licensees, as well as a crack-down on forestry-related corruption.
3. The Brazilian Amazon. There are concerns that Brazil’s current downward deforestation trajectory may not last.
4. Will Paris product a binding climate framework? Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation is expected to have a central role in the climate talks in Paris at the end of the year.
5. Where are the new deforestation hotspots? Data from the WRI suggests that deforestation may be rising in several countries, including Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Ecuador and Ghana amongst others. 2015 will also uncover new studies and tools that will help better quantify change in forest cover.
6. Falling commodity prices. Lower prices reduce the profitability of converting rainforests for palm oil plantations. On the other hand, companies may be less likely to adopt environmental measures if they have less cash on hand.
7. Myanmar. As Myanmar opens up further to foreign investors, concerns about the fate of the country’s forests will rise.
8. Dams in the Amazon. Indigenous groups and environmentalists are ready to fight against Brazil’s hydro projects in the Tapajos basin.
9. RSPO and zero deforestation. If the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) does move towards zero deforestation it has a critical tool in place to do so: last year members were required to submit the GPS coordinates of their concessions.
10. Jurisdictional initiatives. Sub-national efforts to develop forest-friendly policies and initiatives will move forward in 2015.
Pulp and paper giant APRIL (Asia Pacific Resources International Ltd) has been found to be violating its own sustainability policy by continuing to source fibre from peatlands in Riau, Indonesia. The investigation, from Eyes on the Forest, shows that APRIL affiliate Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP) is operating in breach of APRIL’s pledge not to clear potential high conservation value (HCV) areas. Dramatic photographs released by Greenpeace-Indonesia in June clearly showed natural forest clearance on deep peat areas, and ongoing preparations to turn the land in to plantations. APRIL says this activity doesn’t violate its policy commitments and clearing is only taking place in non-HCV areas. APRIL is under mounting pressure to clean up its supply chain since its largest competitor, APP, signed a comprehensive zero deforestation policy in 2013. APP’s subsequent commitment to support conservation and restoration of forests equal in size to its own operations was also applauded by environmental groups. APRIL has since said that it will match APP on this commitment – see APRIL’s letter responding to the Greenpeace photographs in June 2014.
Travis Perkins have been recognised for their efforts in eliminating destructive deforestation from their supply chain. The award for most improved company was given by CDP as part of their 2014 global forests report, ‘Deforestation-free supply chains: From commitments to action’. The report, set against the backdrop of September’s landmark New York Declaration on Forests, recognises ongoing improvement in removing deforestation from agricultural supply chains by 2020. Jez Cutler, head of group environment at Travis Perkins Group – and a guest speaker at our 2011 PREPS Seminar – said,
“We are delighted to be recognised as the most improved company in our industry in reducing reliance on forest risk commodities in the supply chain.
“This is a result of our continuous efforts to improve environmental excellence and sustainability throughout our organisation and our activities. We will continue to aim for further improvements and transparency as well as engagement with important organisations such as the CPD, who support this agenda.”
Are we actually making progress on preventing deforestation? Q&A with Mongabay.com founder Rhett Butler
The founder of the independent news site dedicated to rainforests points to a slowing deforestation rate in Brazil, new initiatives extending our capacity to monitor forests and zero deforestation commitments from the private sector as reasons for optimism. He thinks that most consumers aren’t aware of the issues to the extent it affects their purchasing decisions, except in particularly egregious cases. And he says that NGO campaigns targeted at brands are effective in that these brands are more likely to change their policies quickly than governments and consequently the brands will push governments to reward their commitments by forcing the laggards to catch up.