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World Wildlife Fund Sustainability Works

  • Date: 10 June 2019

Monarch butterflies embark on a marvelous migratory journey. Annually, they travel nearly 3,000 miles from the United States and Canada to their hibernation grounds in Mexico. These travelers arrive at the beginning of November and stay for five months at the Oyamel Fir forest of central Mexico before they migrate back North. Sadly, each year fewer monarchs make that journey as their population has drastically decreased due to climate change and depletion of milkweed along their migratory route, which is the only plant where monarch butterflies lay their eggs. 

WWF and our partners on the ground in Mexico are working to reverse this trend. Together, we are committed to protecting vital monarch butterfly habitat by countering illegal logging efforts, working with local communities and authorities on sustainable forest management, providing training for sustainable tourism, and leading sustainable projects such as tree nurseries that help restore butterfly forest and mushroom production. These measures have also helped to provide additional income to local communities that share the forest with the monarch butterflies.

As part of our efforts to save the monarch butterfly, WWF and world-renowned chef José Andrés are joining forces for the third year in a row to raise awareness and funds for these butterflies. During June 10-16, José Andrés’ DC-based restaurant, Oyamel, will feature special dishes inspired by the region in Mexico where migratory monarch butterflies overwinter. As part of the initiative, Oyamel will donate a portion of proceeds from a special Monarch Week menu to support WWF's work to protect the monarch butterflies.

In addition to Monarch Week at Oyamel, Chef Andrés acts as WWF’s Monarch Squad Champion by raising awareness about this species and encouraging fans to do their part to protect this migratory miracle. In the US, WWF has set a bold goal of getting one million supporters to join the Monarch Squad, to help save the monarch habitat by reducing habitat conversion and the use of herbicides along its migratory route in the US. Join José Andrés and learn more about WWF’s Monarch Squad here

  • Date: 03 June 2019
  • Author: James Snider, Vice President of Science, Research and Innovation, WWF Canada & Annika Terrana, Senior Program Officer of Responsible Forestry and Trade, WWF US

For the last century, the vast majority (80 percent) of the softwood lumber produced in Canada has been imported to the United States. These forest products are used to build homes and make paper products. The demand for wood products is increasing rapidly around the world—and could triple by 2050.

This week—after seven years of rigorous debate, deliberation, consultation and trials—the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) in Canada rolled out a new national forest management standard that sets a high bar for forestry practices around the world.

This new standard holds the opportunity to show the world how 21st century forestry can provide meaningful solutions for collaborative, equitable and sustainable management of our forests.

The new FSC-Canada standard features three key elements:

  • Woodland caribou: Caribou are both an indicator and an umbrella species, meaning they signify the health of the forest and support other plant and animal wildlife. Caribou are also an essential resource for indigenous peoples. Numbers have dropped for many herds and actions to improve conditions for caribou must be prioritized. FSC now includes requirements to directly support caribou habitat and avoid harvest in breeding or migration areas.
  • Free, Prior, and Informed Consent: Over 1.6 million indigenous Canadians live in or near forests. The new FSC Canada standard introduces formal requirements to pro-actively design policies that recognize the rights of indigenous peoples to protect their culture, livelihood and lands, including language that is consistent with the legal definition under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Landscape-level management: The impacts of large-scale land use exist beyond a concession’s immediate boundaries. Landscape-level management is needed to maintain, enhance and restore ecosystem services. The new standard includes requirements to minimize and avoid landscape disturbance, like aligning forestry activities with other industrial activities and protection of waterways.

What’s at stake for Canada’s boreal forest

Canada’s boreal forest—a broad swath of northern forest stretching from the Pacific to Atlantic oceans—is home to more than 2.5 million people and over 600 indigenous communities. It, too, is a key driver of the Canadian economy, contributing up to 200,000 jobs. Timber from the boreal forest is a primary export to the United States and around the world.

The Canadian boreal forest is also home to woodland caribou, which is among the most iconic species of conservation concern in the country. It is one of the few large mammals with populations found across nearly every province and territory, amounting to a truly national species, as memorialized for more than 80 years on the 25-cent coin. The boreal populations of woodland caribou have also become a microcosm of debate on how conservation for at-risk species should occur in the country.

In short, the plight of woodland caribou illustrates the immense challenge of reconciling the growing demand for wood products, the tremendous importance of forests for wildlife and the important role the forests play as carbon sinks, the loss of which accelerates the climate crisis.

New standard is a global model

Canada is not alone in addressing these critically important issues, but in many ways is first in advancing practical solutions with potential to influence other high-forest cover countries, such as Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, that are grappling with similar challenges.

Credible certification standards can help ensure working forests are managed well. And among the certifications, FSC is the gold standard because of its inclusive governance model that equally weights economic, environmental, social and indigenous representation, as well as its performance-based standards that manage for natural forest conditions and preservation of ecosystem services.

Finding solutions is complex and requires leadership. Indigenous rights-holders and the stakeholders of Canada’s vast forests have shown us a new bar for how to be better stewards of our planet, support a stable climate, and ensure healthy forests for woodland caribou. Now it's up to us as forest-users to implement it, and consumers to ask for it. Sign the Pledge.

  • Date: 23 May 2019
  • Author: Ginette Hemley, Senior Vice President, Wildlife Conservation

Drawing upon some 15,000 scientific studies and government reports, an international team of scientists earlier this month issued the most comprehensive assessment ever undertaken of the declining state of nature and its implications for humanity. To call the news bad would be an understatement.

The web of life that sustains us is unravelling at an increasingly alarming pace due to human activities, with upwards of 1 million species now facing extinction within the next few decades. Many of these include species we depend on for food and life-sustaining ecosystem services such as crop pollination, fresh water and the oxygen in the air we breathe.

To those of us working in conservation or following developments in the field, this news was not exactly unexpected. Indeed, WWF’s Living Planet Report has been tracking and documenting these trends for the past 20 years.

But the latest assessment by more than 300 scientists from the U.N.-backed  Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES for short)  takes an encyclopedic 1,500 page deep dive into the declining state of nature – doing for biodiversity what the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) does for the atmosphere. While the full report is yet to come, an extensive summary for policy makers was released on May 4.

Among its findings:

  • The abundance of native species in most terrestrial habitats has fallen by at least 20% over the past century and biodiversity – the diversity in and between species and ecosystems – “is declining faster than at any time in human history.”
  • Three-fourths of the Earth’s land surface and two thirds of its oceans have been “significantly altered” by humanity’s growing weight (7.7 billion of us as of 2018). This, in turn, has placed increasing stress on natural resources. About 60 billion tons of resources (both renewable and non-renewable) are now extracted every year, but land productivity has decreased over nearly a quarter of the globe while as much as $600 billion worth of agricultural production is at risk due to the decline in pollinators – bats, birds, bees and other insects.
  • Things aren’t better in the marine environment, where 93% of all fish stocks are being harvested at either maximum sustainable or unsustainable levels, coral reefs are dying from acidification and bleaching, and marine vertebrates, from sea turtles to whales, are being contaminated by plastics, industrial waste and the toxic cocktail of other pollutants we dump into our oceans.

According to the report, the main drivers of this trajectory toward global disaster are, in order of impact: 1)  changes in land and sea use (e.g., conversions of forests to agricultural use); 2) the direct exploitation of organisms -- a wonky way of lumping together things like over-fishing and the illegal trade in wild animal parts;  3) climate change; 4) pollution of the land, sea and freshwater biomes; and 5) the invasion of alien species – no, not of the extra-terrestrial kind  but of species that hitch-hike from one continent to another via globalization, upsetting the delicate balance of biodiversity in the places they end up.

The scientists say there’s still a way out of this jam, but that it will require a truly transformative effort: something on the order of what proponents of the Green New Deal propose for climate change -- but implemented on a global scale. Indeed, climate change and biodiversity loss must be tackled together, not only because each help drive the other but because both in turn are driven by a now reckless level of human consumption.

“We cannot solve the threats of human-induced climate change and loss of biodiversity in isolation,” says Sir Robert Watson, the former chair of the IPCC and current chair of IPBES. “We either solve both or we solve neither.”

After 25 years of fruitless debate with industry-funded climate denialists, we must now hasten the transition from the fossil fuels that cause climate change to solar, wind and other renewable clean energies. We must also re-think how we grow our food (along with how much of it we waste after growing it); how we reform a toss-away culture that is poisoning our rivers, wetlands and oceans with plastics and other pollutants; and, as if all this were not enough, how we can help developing countries to do the same.

Will it cost a lot? Yes, but not nearly as much as losing the $125 trillion worth of ecosystem services that The Living Planet report estimates nature provides to us every year. Will it ruffle the feathers of powerful vested interests? That too. But if that is the price to be paid to leave our children a living planet, it’s a bargain.

There’s a fable in Greek mythology about the fate that befell King Erysichthon of Thessaly, who angered the goddess Demeter by clear-cutting the trees in her sacred grove to fuel the fires of his kitchen hearth. In revenge she cursed the king with an insatiable hunger that only got worse the more he ate. Consumption possessed him, driving his soldiers to plunder everything edible in the kingdom until famine gripped the land. In the end, there was but one thing left for Erysichthon to eat: himself… arm by arm and leg by leg until he was no more.

Even back then, some teller of tales seems to have had a premonition that the quest to consume more and more could, if we were not careful, end up consuming us all.  

  • Date: 22 May 2019
  • Author: Nancy Labbe, Manager, Sustainable Ranching Initiative, Ranching and Conservation

America’s beef sector has taken an important step toward greater sustainability. After years of intense collaboration among ranchers, retailers and every other link in the supply chain, the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef released its sustainability framework—the first time stakeholders across the entire supply chain from ranchers to retailers have agreed to a uniform set of metrics to improve their environmental, social and economic performance.

Representing thousands of ranchers and hundreds of companies, the U.S. Roundtable based its sustainability framework not only on their experience and knowledge but also on a variety of public comments from a diverse range of individuals and interests outside of the sector. The final product provides producers, processors, traders, retailers, restaurants and more with indicators and metrics that they can apply in their day-to-day business to improve air quality, protect waterways from runoff and waste, bolster healthy soils and grasslands, boost wildlife and reduce carbon emissions, among other things.

This is why World Wildlife Fund co-founded the Global Roundtable on Sustainable Beef in 2010 and its U.S. counterpart five years later. We envisioned an industry that thrives economically while promoting better social and environmental outcomes, one that provides nutrition without overdrawing the planet’s natural resources. This sustainability framework is one manifestation of this vision. Across the globe, there are more than 19 similar efforts working toward producing beef more sustainably.

What’s the industry’s next step? Implementation.

Sustainability in the U.S. looks different than it does in other parts of the world. Take Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, for instance. It suffers in part from deforestation to make room for cattle pastures. In the U.S., however, cattle can help save America’s great ecosystem—the Great Plains.

More and more, Great Plains ranchers are finding that what’s good for grass is good for cattle, and vice versa. It makes sense: Grasslands evolved with large herds of grazing animals. Bison historically filled this role and now some ranchers manage cows to mimic bison as they prune the grass, strengthen its roots, aerate the ground and fertilize the soil—all while turning that inedible grass into edible protein. (Chickens and pigs can’t do that.) This action allows the soil to harness carbon, nitrogen and other elements from the atmosphere and turn them into grass. When grasses grow, insect, bird and animal life grows with them. We’re even finding benefits for wildlife on ranches where cattle are grazed with grassland health in mind.

The Roundtable’s framework also provides guidance for auction houses, feedlots, processors, retailers and other supply chain stakeholders to improve in areas such as air quality, carbon emissions, water use, water quality and animal welfare.

It’s good to see industry leaders pushing this grassroots initiative forward; players that have been slow to adopt more sustainable practices are getting left behind. Consumers are demanding food they can feel good about eating and if they can’t buy it, they just simply won’t eat it. This sustainability framework lays the foundation for businesses to act and promote better beef for consumers with a smaller environmental footprint. As the industry now moves to put this framework into action, we’ll continue to work across the supply chain to save our grasslands and support the ranchers who sustain them.

  • Date: 14 May 2019
  • Author: Sheila Bonini, Senior Vice President, Private Sector Engagement

Last summer in an op-ed in the Seattle Times, I called for a plastics revolution. As a society, we were on the brink of rethinking how to tackle our plastic waste crisis, but there wasn’t a clear path on how to get there.  Since then, city governments, companies – both big and small – and other stakeholders have made public commitments, from bans on plastic straws and bags to large-scale pledges to reduce, re-source, recycle, and more.

While ambitious commitments are the jumping off point for any successful venture, we know that no single individual, organization, company, or government can tackle the root causes of plastic waste on their own. When it comes to the private sector, commitments move companies in the right direction, but to actually fulfill those commitments, companies need a roadmap for navigating the broken plastics system, a collaborative environment that fosters innovation and aggressive goal-setting, and the right tools to make their bold visions a reality.

That’s why World Wildlife Fund launched ReSource: Plastic, an activation hub designed to close the “how” gap for companies that are ready to move from aspiration to meaningful and measurable action. We’re inspired by the efforts of our Principal Members, including Keurig Dr Pepper, McDonald's, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, Tetra Pak and The Coca-Cola Company, and the work of our Thought Partners Ellen MacArthur Foundation and ocean Conservancy. When leading companies and NGOs unite around comprehensive solutions to the plastics problem – by reducing their own plastic pollution footprint, shifting to bio-sourced and recycled materials, influencing public policy, and shaping consumer behavior – real change happens.

When we first started to think how WWF could help stop the flow of plastic waste into our oceans and other critical ecosystems, we examined our decades-long work with influential corporate partners. We quickly recognized the critical role that private sector collaboration could play in achieving our mission of No Plastic in Nature by 2030. In designing ReSource, we took a three-pronged approach to working with companies:

  • Prioritize strategies that will yield the greatest impact.
  • Implement those strategies and utilize an innovative methodology to measure progress.
  • Collaborate with other companies and key stakeholders to drive new solutions and investments.

We also knew we couldn’t do this alone. Our Thought Partners, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the Ocean Conservancy, are already at the forefront of engaging businesses on this issue. Under our leadership, and with their strategic input and guidance, ReSource will be strongly rooted in science and focus exclusively on keeping plastic in the supply loop and out of the environment.

A year into the plastics revolution, I’m thrilled with how far we’ve come, but there’s more work to do. We challenge you to go beyond your commitments and join us. Together, we can show what a future with no plastic in nature actually looks like—a world where oceans, wildlife, communities, and businesses thrive.

Learn more at www.resource-plastic.com.

 

  • Date: 28 March 2019
  • Author: John Marler, Vice President, Energy & Environment, AEG

This Saturday, March 30 at 8:30 p.m. local time, millions of people, companies and municipalities around the world will celebrate Earth Hour. They will turn out their lights in solidarity for the fight against climate change and renewing their commitment toward protecting our planet.

As the world’s leading sports and live entertainment company, AEG believes we have an opportunity to use our business assets and influence to create positive change in the world.  Through our worldwide network of more than 150 venues, we entertain more than 100 million guests annually, and what better way to raise awareness for this important initiative than to add our venues to the list of iconic structures that will join the global Earth Hour movement?

2019 marks the 10th year that AEG’s is celebrating Earth Hour. We’ve made this an annual tradition because we believe that sustainability is a shared endeavor, touching everyone in all organizations and all corners of the globe.  Through our environmental sustainability program, AEG 1EARTH, are working hard to conserve more, use less, source responsibly and find better ways to work.

But this year’s Earth Hour event takes on an even more urgent tone, in light of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recent report on global warming. According to the report, as a global society, we have less than 12 years to make “unprecedented” changes to our way of life or face increasingly dire consequences.  Just last month, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization released a report explaining that global loss of biodiversity from habitat and ecosystem degradation is threatening the world’s food supplies, as just nine species account for 66% of total crop production. 

John Marler AEG (002)

John Marler is the Vice President for Energy & Environment at AEG

In April, we will release our eighth sustainability report which outlines our progress towards our science-based climate goal, our risk-based potable water conservation goal, and our waste diversion goal. We’ll share our successes and business challenges, including the completion of the nation’s largest solar installation at a municipally-owned convention center, the launch of our employee-driven sustainability advocacy program and our work to reduce single-use plastics throughout our operations.

While our sustainability efforts are ongoing, we celebrate Earth Hour to unite and stand with others around the world. In Shanghai, the Mercedes-Benz Arena will turn off its lights and work with artist Fei Yuqing on Earth Hour activations during his concert. In Los Angeles, L.A. LIVE, STAPLES Center and the Microsoft Theater will be dimming unnecessary lights and promoting Earth Hour through their social media channels. And in Australia, ICC Sydney will black out two-thirds of the venue with messaging to the public and employees. These are just a few examples of what we’ll doing on March 30 in support of Earth Hour – we hope you join us!

 

 

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of WWF.

  • Date: 28 March 2019
  • Author: Lou Leonard, Senior Vice President, Climate Change & Energy, World Wildlife Fund

Americans love a good bargain. Case in point — the renewable energy market, where costs continue to fall, and companies are moving fast to take advantage. In 2018 alone, a mere 40 U.S. companies contracted for more than 6 gigawatts of renewable energy, doubling the previous record. That’s enough power to supply over 1 million homes.

But even as companies are doing more renewable energy deals than ever before, scientists warn that we have to move faster to decarbonize the economy in time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Companies can do even more to speed up America’s transition to renewable energy, if we can remove a few obstacles standing in their way. 

Increasingly, the price of renewable energy is not the problem: Costs for renewables are dropping, beating out coal and even natural gas in many places. Renewables also offer businesses less energy price volatility, allowing a company to lock in a price for decades, a significant advantage compared to market fluctuations in the price of natural gas. And renewables help companies meet their carbon reduction goals.

The price is right, companies can plan with confidence that the price won’t change, and renewables help companies meet their climate goals. So, what’s the problem? In short, access to the market for buying renewable power. Even for big companies, buying energy isn’t like buying a TV at the mall or ordering takeout online. If you want 100% renewable energy – rather than the mix of mostly dirty electricity with a little clean power thrown in that many utilities supply to their customers – it can get complicated, fast. Only the biggest companies have in-house expertise to navigate the complexities of a renewable energy deal.

And that’s in places where electricity markets are even open for these kinds of deals. In most American states, utilities control electricity markets, providing power to all customers — and choosing the source of this power. In these ‘regulated energy markets,’ companies can’t purchase their energy directly. A few companies have found creative ways to hack the system: For example, large technology companies have used their leverage when bringing new energy demand to the state (e.g., new data centers) to negotiate renewable energy deals with their utility. But existing and smaller customers lack the leverage to secure a deal.

It’s clear that the deck is stacked against these companies. To tackle climate change, that has to change. Companies need to learn from each other and to collectively use their voice to make it easier for everyone to buy renewables.

That’s where the Renewable Energy Buyers’ Alliance (REBA) comes in. REBA is a coalition of energy buyers and suppliers looking to transform America’s electricity system while bringing 60 gigawatts of clean energy online by 2025. And they are working together to drive progress in those challenging “regulated markets” — thanks to powerful new tools like green tariffs, buyer aggregation and innovative policy incentives.

Green tariffs come in many shapes and sizes but are essentially programs where a utility allows buyers to purchase renewable energy at a fixed rate. In some cases, companies have collectively partnered with utilities, which in turn buy electricity from renewable energy sources on the companies’ behalf. Such deals highlight a recent innovation of aggregating the purchasing power of multiple buyers in a single deal, thereby reducing prices and transaction costs.

This kind of ‘aggregation’ can be especially helpful for smaller companies. Large buyers are increasingly offering to ‘anchor’ lower costs for smaller companies who join the deal. In other cases, a group of smaller companies can serve as a collective anchor to negotiate a deal none of them could do alone.

It’s time to use these good examples to design innovative policies that bring these options to different markets. Legislation in Michigan and North Carolina triggered the development of green tariffs, while California expanded direct access for large customers to shop for renewables competitively. REBA is helping to build these innovative new procurement structures across markets, but more work is needed across the country.

And now REBA is about to really up its game. Today, the coalition is officially transforming from an NGO-driven initiative – driven by World Wildlife Fund, World Resources Institute, Rocky Mountain Institute and Business for Social Responsibility – to a business-led association. Under this new model, REBA will crowd in hundreds, even thousands, of new corporate members who collectively have the power to drive policy and regulatory fixes, level the playing field on costs and increase options for all customers to buy renewables.

Some trade associations in America have a bad reputation for blocking progress on climate change. But companies use trade associations for their biggest priorities, for when they really want to raise their voices together to have the greatest impact. What if we had a new trade association chartered to help save the planet? Starting today, we do.

Many challenges remain, but the unprecedented clean energy procurement in 2018 demonstrates a growing corporate consensus that renewable energy is the future. And now REBA offers a powerful vehicle — driven by American businesses — to help us get there.

 

  • Date: 19 February 2019
  • Author: Erin Simon, Director, Sustainability R&D

Plastic is everywhere. It’s in our food and water. It’s in hundreds of diverse wildlife species. It’s found its way to the most remote parts of the world. And in the centuries that plastic waste takes to degrade, it’s polluting critical ecosystems and the species that call them home in ways that we’re just starting to wrap our minds around.

One dump truck full of plastic waste enters our oceans every minute. Over the year, this accumulates to 8 million tons of plastic entering our oceans. If we continue with business as usual, the future looks dire for nature and people. It’s estimated that by 2050, 99% of seabirds will have ingested plastic. The plastic waste crisis poses an urgent and rapidly growing threat to the entire world. To avert catastrophe, we have to stem the flow of plastic waste into the natural world — now.

Forget piecemeal solutions. We must rethink the entire lifecycle of plastic — how we source, design, manage, and reuse the plastic materials that communities depend upon — and engage key players at every stage along the way. The global scale and complexity of the challenge demands a multi-faceted and coordinated response that spans every region of the world and every sector of society.

The private sector has a particularly critical role to play. Businesses can foster positive change in their direct operations and across their supply chains, motivate and collaborate with other industry leaders and service providers, influence policy, engage individual consumers, and spark public dialogue — exactly the kind of ripple effect we need to achieve WWF’s global vision of No Plastic in Nature by 2030.

A recent report by WWF, “No Plastic in Nature: A Practical Guide for Business Engagement,” examines the scope and causes of the plastic waste crisis and offers a clear and pragmatic guide for businesses to lead the much-needed plastics revolution. 

TrashSea

One dump truck full of plastic waste enters our oceans every minute. Over the year, this accumulates to 8 million tons of plastic entering our oceans

WWF brought different areas of expertise to bear in creating this report—a fitting process, given the critical role that collaboration has to play in all of our recommendations. Through an analysis of best practices, independent research, and case studies, the report synthesizes what works, and what’s adaptable. Specifically, there are the four ways that companies can drive systemic change:

  • Embrace strategic collaboration – making purposeful design improvements will maximize impact
  • Shift the thinking around design, packaging, and distribution so that the later stages of plastic’s life cycle are kept in mind. The result will be improved recycling and composting rates, as well as robust markets for recycled materials
  • Engage consumers in ways that shift behavior for the long-run
  • Innovate the ways we currently collect, recycle and compost waste

The plastic waste crisis represents a shared challenge for nature, communities, and business. The end goal of No Plastic in Nature is within the world’s reach, and now we have a roadmap to get us there. We call upon businesses to help lead the way.

  • Date: 15 February 2019
  • Author: Laura Nowlin

The following is an excerpt of a story featured in AGDAILY titled "The words of Rural America — we are here!"

I have read several stories recently that make life in rural America seem pretty dismal — the population is aging and decreasing, everyone is poorly educated and addicted to drugs, and the land is either not accessible to the public, or it is being destroyed by crops and cows . I wonder how much time those journalists spent in rural America before they wrote those stories? Any places that matter take a time investment to understand.

Well, I haven’t just visited the “flyover” states, I live here — five generations of my family have lived in the same central Montana county. I can’t speak for all of rural America, but I can speak about this place, and I would like to challenge the stereotype.

My husband and I have two children, and we chose to raise them in rural America. We left good-paying “regular” jobs to live and work in the country. We read a lot of children’s books, and one of our favorites is Horton Hears a Who. I think often of those Whos and how they united to yell as loud as they could, “We are here! We are here! We are here!” for someone to hear them.

There aren’t many of us out here — 500 people in all of Petroleum County. We are spread out, and we work full-time jobs (sometimes several jobs). We are mostly farmers and ranchers, teachers, and local government staff. We are not journalists, marketing directors, or graphic designers — it is hard to gather together to be loud enough to tell our own story. But, we have a story to tell...

 

Cattle on Ranch in Montana

...We are passionate about our land. This includes the public land where we graze our cattle and the private land that has sometimes been in families for over 100 years. Most of Petroleum County is grassland or the Missouri River Breaks — land that is not suitable for growing crops, so instead, most of us raise cattle.

The grasslands evolved with grazers. The two are codependent on each other and the grasslands need a large herbivore grazing it just as much as the cattle need the grasslands. When a cow grazes, she chomps off part of the plant, which allows it to regrow. When a plant does not have the opportunity to regrow, it becomes decadent — old growth dies and clogs out any chance for new growth to happen. The wildlife, such as deer and antelope, don’t graze this old, dead grass. Cattle hooves break up plants and create litter that covers the ground — this catches water and helps plants to regrow. And, finally, cows poop and pee — the best form of natural (and free!) fertilization out there. Grazing is part of the whole system that enhances both the soils and everything that is below ground, as well as the grasses and other plants above ground.

Ranchers provide, “ecosystem services.” This means that when we use good land management practices, we provide benefits to the land from which all of society benefits. Healthy grasslands, which can be achieved through cattle grazing, provide ecosystem services like carbon sequestration, water filtration and water storage, open spaces, and wildlife habitat. The beauty of using cattle to graze the grasslands is that they can be managed to address the needs of the land. For example, a noxious weed infestation can be grazed at a certain time of year to get it under control. Where buildup of plant material has happened, grazing that buildup can keep fire danger managed to a more natural level. Studies of grassland songbirds have shown that some of these birds need short grasses, and even prefer bare ground, at certain times of the year. Ranchers can graze their cattle through pastures on a rotation that benefits these declining bird populations.

To read the full story, visit AGDAILY.

  • Date: 17 January 2019
  • Author: By Christine Leong, Managing Director, Global Blockchain Identity at Accenture and Tal Viskin, Senior Manager, Development Partnerships, Blockchain at Accenture

When it comes to agriculture, what you don’t know can hurt you. That’s why companies are beginning to use blockchain technology to trace food products—notably, seafood, beef, and soy—back to their source. But, according to Accenture's new report titled “Tracing the Supply Chain: How Blockchain Can Enable Traceability in the Food Industry,” using the technology well takes careful planning and wide collaboration.

Global commodity supply chains are far-reaching, complex, and immensely fragmented. Millions of producers supply thousands of processors that sell to thousands of importers and so on. Without complete traceability, companies put their brands and potentially even their customers’ safety at risk. Food recallsexposés of slave labourreports of illegal deforestationand Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU), are just a few examples.

Today’s paper-based systems for tracking food to its source are a 20th century solution in a 21st century marketplace. Platforms like blockchain, however, enable anyone with a smartphone and internet access to connect with everyone else from fishers and farmers to retailers and restaurants to shed light on current complex and opaque supply chains. That’s the kind of visibility that companies need to mitigate risk, to reputation and product alike.

In addition to providing traceability, systems like blockchain can also lower costs and achieve efficiency gains through improved supply chain and inventory management. Improved transparency can help companies recall products in less time for less money. Indeed, our report reveals that blockchain technology can create a transparency revolution in our global food system, but only if industry, producers, financial institutions, government, and civil society follow a few basic guidelines.

First, there is a lot of excitement around blockchain technology. But, before investing capital into the development of a blockchain solution, companies must ensure that blockchain adds the intended value. In general, our research showed that it could enhance traceability for a variety of commodities, including wild-caught tuna, farmed shrimp, soy, and beef.

Second, any blockchain system must be able to connect millions of farmers, hundreds of processors, and thousands more distributors, brands, retailers, and foodservice companies. It will work only if it’s interoperable and digital transformation is enabled. It will fail if fishers, farmers, and processors use different systems for each of the hundreds of retailers, traders, and other companies further down the supply chain. As companies jump on the blockchain bandwagon, many are creating their own in-house, enterprise solutions with different languages and transaction systems.

Third, data must be presented uniformly. (Anyone who has tried to merge two differently formatted Excel spreadsheets can tell you how important that is.) Producers, processors, and others along the supply chain must use consistent language to refer to products and their characteristics—from agreeing on “soy” versus “soya” to kilograms versus tons. Otherwise, companies will end up with a towering babble of data.

Fourth, even immaculately designed systems cannot avoid human error. People make mistakes, so using electronic trackers and other devices that automatically upload information to the blockchain, such as radio ID tags, can improve the quality and consistency of data shared on the blockchain.

Finally, companies must strike the right balance between transparency, security, and privacy. Of course, blockchain systems should include as much detail as necessary to trace products. But exposing the names and addresses of thousands of producers could put them at risk. Companies may use information to gain competitive advantage over their rivals, so, where possible, transaction details such as quantity and price between two participants would be visible only to stakeholders of the transaction.

Early blockchain trials are promising, but it is still early days. It could be a powerful tool, but it won’t work if companies wield it blindly. They need to coordinate with their buyers, suppliers, partners, and even their competitors to build an effective, sustainable, and interoperable system. That’s the best way—perhaps the only way—that companies can eliminate illegal and unethical practices from their supply chains and, better yet, from the planet entirely.

About the Report:

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation funded “Tracing the Supply Chain: How blockchain can enable traceability in the food industry” as part of its efforts to assess the feasibility and costs associated with accelerating blockchain for traceability in beef, soy, farmed shrimp and wild capture tuna supply chains—namely, soy and beef in Latin America and aquaculture in South and Southeast Asia. The report benefited from advisors, including representatives from SAP, Microsoft, IBM, Republic Systems, Synapse Nexus, and WWF. 

This blog was originally posted on Accenture's Technology Innovation blog.

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