Forests are critical to protecting the environment. Protecting them is essential in order to avert the worst impacts of climate change. According to the climate experts, by halting deforestation and investing in reforestation and wetland conservation we could achieve up to a third of the global greenhouse gas reductions needed by 2030 to stay on track with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
In fact, research from The Nature Conservancy shows that halting deforestation can cause more impact than taking every single car off the road. Apart from this, the forests also contribute significantly to protecting global water resources and support 80% of the planet’s terrestrial biodiversity.
However, the global tree cover loss has reached a record 29.7m hectares in 2016, a trend that shows no signs of slowing. The production of agricultural commodities is the single biggest driver of deforestation globally. The companies that produce, process, use, and sell these agricultural commodities, therefore, have huge responsibility thrust upon them regarding safeguarding forest landscapes.
These companies need to take a leading role in breaking the link between agricultural production and forest destruction. In order to achieve this a complete transformation of the markets for many commonly used products is required. Major investments are needed in research and development of systems that would enable the companies to carry out their operations away from a system that incentivises continued expansion into forested landscapes and towards one that supports sustainable sourcing and make forest protection and reforestation economically and politically viable.
In recognition of their influence on global forests, nearly 500 companies have made commitments to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains over the past decade. These companies span global supply chains, from growers and traders to manufacturers and retailers.
However, despite this positive trend, confusion over how to go about fulfilling their commitments, along with a lack of consistency in measuring progress are issues that the companies struggle with on a regular basis. To change and aid the companies to be more accountable, The Accountability Framework initiative has been launched by a coalition of civil society partners which seeks to close this implementation gap by giving companies the support they need to turn their pledges into action.
The framework defines what “good” looks like when it comes to setting, implementing, and demonstrating progress towards corporate commitments to eliminate deforestation, ecosystem conversion, and human rights abuses from agriculture and forestry supply chains.
It provides consistent measures of progress across commodities, regions, and supply chain positions and presents a path to companies to credibly demonstrate continuous improvement and fulfilment of commitments. By using the framework, companies can help ensure that their commitments, activities, monitoring systems, and reporting practices reflect common and agreed-upon norms and best practices.
Companies now have the opportunity to set clear commitments to reduce deforestation, take action in implementing them throughout their supply chains, and credibly demonstrate the part they are playing in industry transformation.
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The CSR Journal Team