World Wildlife Fund Sustainability Works

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A New Resource Empowers Companies to Tackle Deforestation from the Ground Up

  • Date: 21 August 2020
  • Author: Akiva Fishman, Manager, Private Sector Interventions to Tackle Deforestation and Degradation, WWF

Over the last decade, we saw a major increase in the number of corporate commitments to eliminate deforestation from agricultural supply chains. This trend put a spotlight on how the production of soft commodities like food crops, wood fiber, and rubber contributes to deforestation. It also led to important improvements in supply chain transparency.

Nevertheless, agriculture continues to drive forest loss across the world, with enormous implications for sustainable economies, livelihoods, and biodiversity. Companies urgently need to intensify their efforts to improve transparency in their supply chains, work with suppliers to ensure commodities are not causing deforestation, and report on their efforts and progress in line with the Accountability Framework—the best practice guidance for setting and implementing corporate deforestation commitments.

But current efforts by companies to make their supply chains more sustainable are insufficient. For example, they don’t adequately combat systemic deforestation drivers like insecure land tenure and illegal land clearing that lie beyond the reach of corporate action to address alone. That’s why we recommend companies complement and reinforce their supply chain efforts by supporting jurisdictional sustainability initiatives. A jurisdictional initiative is a type of place-based partnership that convenes a broad base of stakeholders with shared interests—including governments, local producers, downstream companies, and civil society—to align market and policy incentives to support improved land-use planning and sustainable commodity production at scale.

Many companies are becoming increasingly interested in jurisdictional approaches but have been unsure where or how to get involved. Thanks to a new webpage available on Walmart’s Sustainability Hub, there’s an innovative resource to help. It provides suppliers with the information needed to understand where to prioritize their engagement as well as guidance on how specifically to engage.

“We know we can’t address deforestation on our own. That’s why we’re working with key partners to bring information to suppliers on innovative, place-based approaches designed to tackle the issue at its source. We hope this new resource will make it easier to prioritize high-impact engagement.”

Mark Eastham
Senior Manager, Sustainability, Walmart

Developed in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund, Environmental Defense Fund, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, and The Sustainability Consortium, the new webpage includes maps of jurisdictions where companies are most likely sourcing key commodities. This is particularly useful to businesses that are still struggling to trace their own supplies—not as an alternative to traceability but as a means to guide decisions on where to collaborate as tracing progresses.

For example, the map below identifies the leading jurisdictions producing the world’s cocoa supply.

The website then provides maps showing the jurisdictions at highest risk of deforestation driven by key commodities like cocoa.

With these maps in hand, companies can prioritize their engagement in the jurisdictions where they source with the highest risk of deforestation.

Finally, the website includes links to guidance detailing how companies can most effectively engage on the ground in jurisdictional initiatives to address deforestation in these landscapes. Actions include investing in producer training to adopt best management practices; advocating for stronger land tenure for communities; and participating in joint action planning with other stakeholders. The webpage currently provides links to initiatives in Mato Grosso, Brazil, and in North Sumatra and Aceh, Indonesia. In the near future, it will include global guidance for engaging in jurisdictional initiatives all over the world.

This new webpage is an important resource for companies to better understand where and how to address deforestation on the ground—and at scale—to complement their ongoing efforts to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains. By investing in place-based solutions, businesses can demonstrate clear leadership, tackling deforestation “from the ground up” to help ensure a better future for our forests for generations to come.