- Date: 24 June 2020
- Author: Linda Walker, Senior Director, Corporate Engagement, Forests
The Urgency of Collaboration—and Acceleration
We have arrived at a pivotal juncture in our history. In order to avert catastrophe for people and nature, we must limit the increase in average global temperature to below 1.5 degrees. Forests alone could make up one-third of the solution to our climate challenge but only if we take bold steps to restore, protect, and better manage them.
Sadly, nearly half of all forests are now under threat due to deforestation and forest degradation. The widespread loss of forests accelerates climate change, impacts water quality and quantity, and drives biodiversity loss while also threatening human health and well-being. Wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, and other disasters have become more intense in recent years, in part because the forests that used to help buffer communities from their impacts are now either absent or unhealthy. And at a time when all countries find themselves under siege from COVID-19, it’s worth noting that dwindling forests are increasingly driving wildlife and people closer together, raising the risk of exposure to other zoonotic diseases like Ebola, the Nipah virus, Zika, West Nile, and others.
Companies can, and must, be part of the solution, along with governments, institutions, civil society, and communities. It’s no longer enough for companies to simply “do no harm” or commit to “reduced impact.” Companies need to scale up their level of ambition and think about how they can give back more to forests than they take out—to help protect, restore, and improve the management of forests around the world. Companies that understand the critical link between environmental risk and business risk, and integrate their sustainability and business strategies, will be most resilient in navigating the uncertain times ahead.
HP is striving to do just that, working with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to go beyond leadership in responsible sourcing, taking action toward creating a more positive future for forests through investment and collaboration.
Last fall, WWF and HP announced a new partnership that builds on HP’s progress around responsible paper and packaging sourcing. The partnership aims to conserve nearly 200,000 acres of forest, an area larger than all five boroughs of New York City combined. Our collaboration includes on-the-ground work focused on improved forest management in nine provinces in China and forest restoration in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest region, aiming to deliver conservation results that take into account paper used by consumers in HP printers over four years.
We chose to focus on these two countries for their relevance to HP’s business, their ecological values, and the potential for sustained, scalable impact. But with forest conservation, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and our work in China will be very different from our work in Brazil. As we developed our plans for each region, we considered the unique drivers of deforestation and degradation, the needs of nature and local communities, and what solutions best accomplish our conservation objectives.
China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of paper products and one of the world’s largest importers of wood from around the globe. Efforts to support improved management of Chinese forests and plantations can deliver meaningful environmental and local community benefits within China while also reducing pressure on other forests around the world.
Specifically, HP’s investment will allow WWF and our partners in China to engage with state forest management agencies and others to implement better management practices on more than 197,000 acres of forests and plantations, qualifying these areas for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. We will prioritize areas that have the greatest potential for conservation or community benefits through the implementation of these improved practices. WWF will also provide training and technical support to forest workers around management practices that can deliver enhanced environmental and social benefits as well as responsible timber production.
Consumer awareness and demand for responsibly sourced products is critical to forest conservation. To that end, we built into our collaboration work that WWF-China will do to engage Chinese consumers to help raise awareness of responsible forestry and forest-friendly products.
The Atlantic Forest, which extends along Brazil’s coast and inland to Paraguay and Argentina, is one of the most important—yet threatened—ecosystems in the world. It’s a biodiversity hotspot containing nearly 7% of the world’s plant and animal species, including the iconic jaguar. It’s also essential to people, providing water for 60% of Brazil’s population. Conservation and restoration of this forest is imperative to Brazil meeting its climate targets under the Paris Agreement.
With support from HP, WWF will restore more than 1,000 acres of land in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest region to native forest. To accomplish our goal, we will collaborate with local and regional partners to build a strong foundation so that communities are engaged and benefiting from the restoration and that these reforested areas thrive over the long term.
HP’s financial investment in this region will also complement forest restoration that International Paper, HP’s supply chain partner, already supports in the Mogi Guaçu River basin of the Atlantic Forest.
A Potential Game Changer for the Private Sector
Finally, through this collaboration, HP is supporting science around what quantity, quality, and connectivity of forests is needed in these regions and others to keep them thriving for people and nature—what we call science-based targets for forests. And through our partnership, we will be able to better define how to quantify the biodiversity, climate, water, and social impacts of actions like those HP is supporting in these regions. This is something we know will be of use to other companies interested in making similar investments to deliver on their sustainability and business goals.
Ultimately, our hope is that HP’s leadership inspires and facilitates more widespread action by companies across a diverse array of industries. Every business is in the forest business. Directly or indirectly, all companies have a stake in forest conservation and have the potential to make a positive impact. Let’s dedicate this new decade to bringing back Earth’s forests and laying the groundwork for wildlife, communities, and businesses to prosper. Together, it’s possible.