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World Wildlife Fund Sustainability Works

filtered by category: Forests

  • Date: 08 November 2019

WWF and HP recently announced an ambitious new partnership to help restore, protect and improve the management of global forests, starting with nearly 200,000 acres in Brazil and China. We caught up with Anneliese Olson, Vice President, Global Head of Print Category at HP to discuss the new partnership and HP’s vision for forest conservation.

Anneliese Olson, Vice President, Global Head of Print Category at HP

Anneliese Olson, Vice President, Global Head of Print Category at HP

Why is HP interested in forest conservation?

At HP, we recognize that forests are critical for the future – more than just the future of our industry, but for our entire planet. We depend on forests for our survival, from the air we breathe to the wood we use, and the paper we print on. Nearly 50 percent of global forests are under threat of deforestation; in fact, forests are being destroyed at the pace of 27 soccer fields per minute.
There is a common misconception that printing is harmful to the environment, but it can be more sustainable than you think. Printing is an integral part of our society, and HP is taking decisive action to protect the world’s forests through sustainable forest management, as well as forest restoration and protection.
Forests are important to us, our customers and our partners, for the future of our natural world and for the longevity of our print business. We firmly believe that to address climate change and deforestation, companies like HP need to step up and go beyond just “doing less harm” to actively encouraging the restoration, protection and a thriving future of our forests.

HP has long been an advocate for responsible forestry. What has that journey looked like for HP and how has it led to this new partnership with WWF?

As the world’s leading printer company, HP has long envisioned a future bettered by technology, and throughout its 80 years in business, we firmly believe that it has a responsibility and power to create a more sustainable future. Just look at your inbox and see how many emails you receive that have a “think before you print” message on them. So, HP set out to reinvent what it means to print sustainably for employees, for consumers and for the entire print industry. We want consumers to print smarter and therefore, more sustainably. So far, our journey has included achieving 100 percent zero deforestation paper, and we are well on our way toward reaching that goal for paper-based packaging – but we wanted to do more.
That’s why we teamed up with World Wildlife Fund – to broaden our efforts beyond responsible sourcing for our own business, to give more back to forests than we take out. Our collaboration is designed to protect, restore and improve the management of forests at a level that covers the paper that goes through HP’s consumer printers. Together, we’ll protect more than 200,000 acres over the next five years – that’s roughly the size of New York City.

This partnership begins with forest conservation in two areas: China and the Atlantic Forest in Brazil. Why did HP decide to concentrate on these forests and how will the work differ in each area?

We’re thrilled to be piloting our efforts to protect two vital ecosystems across both China and Brazil.
Over the past decade, China has become the world’s largest producer and consumer of paper products. The trend is expected to continue, especially as the country’s middle class continues to grow. Even with recycling, reuse and a reduction in waste, a steady and dependable supply of wood is needed to meet the demand for paper products in China. But, currently China imports most of the wood it uses. This project will help advance more responsible forestry and forest products that originate in China.
And in Brazil, the Atlantic Forest (which spans Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina) is one of the most important – yet most threatened – ecosystems in the world. It is within one of the 11 deforestation fronts identified by WWF. These are areas where nearly 80 percent of all forest loss is expected to occur by 2030 if better strategies for forest conservation are not created and implemented.

How does this partnership fit in with the new HP Sustainable Forests Cooperative?

When HP committed to creating a forest positive future for printing, we knew we had to bring together a group of experts in forest management and responsible sources, and naturally that meant we needed to partner with leading non-profits. Combining resources and expertise from across the industry is the only way to make lasting impact.
We’re thrilled to work with partners like WWF, International Paper and the Forest Stewardship Council in founding a new Sustainable Forests Cooperative – to think beyond just planting trees and instead focus on the entire ecosystem of the forest, including the animals and communities that depend on them and are directly impacted by forest degradation.
Most importantly, we are inviting non-profits and businesses, including our other supply chain partners, to join us our commitment to protect, restore and improvement management of forests for future generations.

How does HP hope to inspire other companies to invest in the forest positive movement?

Having a positive impact on forests is not just about reducing our footprint – it’s about coming together to create a larger area of thriving forests, for people, nature and business around the world. Our goal is to make printing with HP directly responsible for the increase of recycled and FSC-certified fiber sourcing, while contributing to the longevity of the planet and our business.
We hope to inspire companies and consumers alike to take decisive action and to join us in preserving and improving our forest ecosystems. The time for more sustainable business models, greater cooperation and swift action is now.


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

  • 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: 07 November 2018
  • Author: Lloyd Gamble & Akiva Fishman

Walmart and Unilever are changing the way we think about saving the world’s forests and mitigating climate change.

How? Walmart is teaming up with its vast network of suppliers, including Unilever, in a novel approach to tackle deforestation. If successful, this will keep massive quantities of carbon locked away in healthy forests rather than released to the atmosphere when forests are felled. Kathleen McLaughlin, Walmart’s Chief Sustainability Officer, made this exciting announcement at the Global Climate Action Summit in September.

To understand how big a deal this is, let’s take a step back. When Walmart launched Project Gigaton two years ago, it encouraged its suppliers to use voluntary sustainability standards, such as the Forest Stewardship Council or Roundtable for Responsible Palm Oil (RSPO), to ensure that their purchases do not drive deforestation but, instead, contribute to the project’s overall goal of avoiding one billion tons of carbon emissions before 2030. These standards effectively pair consumer demand for responsibly-produced goods with farmers and producers who demonstrate good management practices. However, global deforestation is proving to be a daunting challenge that requires even greater effort and innovation to move the needle at scale and across entire landscapes.

And that’s where Walmart’s announcement comes in.

The company will launch a platform to mobilize its suppliers to support locally-led, multi-stakeholder initiatives that are tackling deforestation in key commodity-producing regions where they purchase soy, beef, palm oil and timber. These “jurisdictional approaches” align producers, local governments, global companies, and others within a single geography around a shared vision for balancing production, protection and restoration, and inclusion of local communities. Partnerships like these can combine the policymaking power of governments with the market pull of major corporations to overcome challenges that no one entity could take on alone.

The potential benefits for global forests and climate are enormous. For example, 38 states and provinces (also known as “jurisdictions”) make up the Governors’ Climate and Forest Task Force, which works to advance jurisdictional approaches that promote economic development while reducing deforestation. If successful, jurisdictional approaches in these 38 places alone could avoid over 500 million tons of carbon emissions each year through 2030.

The rubber will meet the road where Walmart and its suppliers support place-based solutions in important sourcing regions. We already have a great example of that. On the heels of Walmart’s announcement, Unilever announced that it will be the first supplier to support a jurisdictional initiative using this new platform. Speaking at the climate summit, Unilever’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Jeff Seabright, declared the company’s commitment to support restoration of two critical wildlife corridors and two riparian reserves in the state of Sabah, Malaysia, as well as to support growers in achieving both the State’s policy commitment of MSPO certification and RSPO certification of 60,000 hectares of palm oil. These activities demonstrate Unilever’s continued commitment to jurisdictional approaches and will be an important contribution to the State’s goal of bringing 100 percent of its palm oil production in line with MSPO and the RSPO standards by 2025, complementing the actions that other stakeholders are taking in the landscape.

With Walmart using this new platform to forge connections between suppliers and key forested jurisdictions, more partnerships can be anticipated around the corner to help tackle the diverse challenges of commodity-driven deforestation in different regions.

WWF, Conservation International, Environmental Defense Fund and The Nature Conservancy will team with Walmart and its suppliers to facilitate these connections and advise on how best to engage in each geography along the way. It will be an exciting journey. And one that is desperately needed right now if we want to save the world’s forests.

  • Date: 10 October 2018

It’s no secret that as the world’s population continues to rise, so does our demand on its resources. Between growing incomes and the need to feed more people, the rate of consumption will continue to far outpace the systems necessary to manage this consumption. Because our waste systems simply can’t keep up, uncollected or leaked waste will continue to wreak havoc on the environment. Litter doesn’t just affect the beauty of our environment – it affects the health of ecosystems, biodiversity, and humans alike.

At World Wildlife Fund (WWF) we work to stop the flow of waste into nature, but we realize that changes are needed earlier in the material management system to eliminate the potential for massive downstream effects even before they become an issue. We need to develop innovative solutions that work to improve the entire system from the earliest stages of product development.

WWF’s Cascading Materials Vision is the foundation for what a holistic material management solution looks like. We’ve recently joined the NextGen Cup Consortium, led by Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy and in cooperation with founding partners Starbucks and McDonalds, to help bring part of this vision to life through a multi-year initiative.

Launching this week is the Consortium’s inaugural initiative, the NextGen Cup Challenge, which will seek to transform one of the most recognizable single-use items: the paper cup. The challenge, managed by OpenIDEO, aims to catalyze ideation and action leading to the adoption of a new, sustainable, single-use cup that can be recycled or composted on a global scale. 

The challenge will analyze the cup as part of the larger system it fits into and designers will strive to create a new fiber cup that is one part of a more sustainable global waste management strategy.

While single-use cups are only part of our waste problem, this challenge is the Consortium’s first step in revolutionizing the recovery of materials in the packaging industry.

Why is this challenge necessary?

Most paper cups distributed today are sent to a landfill. Therefore, a critical piece of the challenge is designing a cup that can be recovered at the highest scale globally and across a range of regions that have different infrastructure systems. Ultimately the greenest cup is the one you bring with you, but until this practice becomes a cultural norm, we need to make sure our fast-moving consumer cups have minimal environmental impacts.

We produce over 250 billion paper cups each year. While these cups must always meet health and safety standards and be convenient, lightweight, printable, durable, and functional across a wide range of temperatures, there has never been enough pressure to source and produce these cups in a sustainable way. This challenge is necessary because the current cup is created and used on such a large scale that it has enormous waste management impacts. In addition, we are wasting valuable resources that could be given new life and we are constantly demanding virgin materials to produce more cups.

Technically, traditional paper cups (as well as almost anything), can be recycled if broken down physically or chemically. However, for recycling to actually occur on a meaningful scale, there must be value for the recovered material. The economics of recovery must be such that the value of the re-processed material is still higher than the costs of re-processing. In addition, there needs to be a large enough volume of the specific material to make it profitable. Therefore, the more uniformity in sustainable packaging materials, the easier it will be for a global system to recapture the value of the material.

Why is WWF involved?

Progress towards a global system of material recovery is exceptionally difficult due to the scale of the issue and the number of stakeholders that must be involved to achieve meaningful results. WWF not only recognizes the scale of this problem but also the enormous potential for positive change. As the world population grows, so does demand for goods and packaging and our natural resources suffer. Items such as paper cups are thrown away every day without regard to their potential value in a circular economy. Recovering materials such as single-use fiber cups means taking advantage of an opportunity to do more with less.

WWF serves as an advisory partner on the NextGen Cup Challenge because we look at environmental issues from a broad and comprehensive lens. WWF will provide guidance throughout the competition to ensure that as one environmental issue is being solved, others are not created. WWF’S ability to recognize and evaluate tradeoffs will help inform decisions made by the NextGen Cup Consortium and the team at WWF is already at work helping establish the criteria for a successful and sustainable fiber cup.

Join the challenge! Here’s how:

The NextGen Cup Challenge will officially launch on October 9 when entrepreneurs, designers, and companies are encouraged to submit proposals. Several phases, including reviews and refinement, will occur before the top ideas are announced in February 2019.

Moving Forward

The NextGen Consortium is actively looking to partner with other companies, as they recognize that increased support from other partners will trigger market signals that reverberate throughout the entire value chain. The paper cup is one of those challenging single use items whose re-design for recovery can open the door for wide-scale recovery of other single-use packaging. We know that the global solution to material waste will not be successful through individual attempts at solutions. We must collaborate on a systems approach to maximize our collective potential for success. We believe that, by inviting the full suite of actors to the table, the NextGen Consortium is talking strides towards a promising solution to single-use material waste.

To stay informed as the NextGen Cup challenge progresses, check out https://nextgenconsortium.com

  • Date: 13 September 2018
  • Author: Steve Easterbrook, CEO, McDonald's and Carter Roberts, President & CEO, World Wildlife Fund

With each passing day, the world awakens to growing evidence that investing in sustainable business practices, clean energy and climate-smart agriculture isn’t just best for the planet – it’s good for companies and consumers.

This week, the Global Climate Action Summit – the first-ever global summit focused on non-federal climate leadership – kicks off in San Francisco. The Summit will bring business leaders together with mayors, governors and others from across the globe to share knowledge and chart a new path for climate ambition.

For businesses, this means committing to ambitious climate targets and crafting concrete plans to meet them. Earlier this year McDonald’s became the first global restaurant company to adopt a science-based climate target, which aims to prevent an estimated 150 million metric tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere by 2030. Science based targets help companies identify how much and how quickly they need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to align with the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping the increase in average global temperatures below 2° Celsius (3.56° Fahrenheit). More than 125 companies have already adopted them, and more than 335 have committed to do so. But many more have yet to sign on.

The world’s largest companies can help lead the way. By becoming early adopters, they can help shift entire industries toward more sustainable practices and drive results on a scale that matters. 

McDonalds letter

As printed in the San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 13 2018

Of course, setting targets is one thing. Meeting them is another. Strategies to meet climate targets will vary from sector to sector, but two in particular present exciting opportunities: shifting to renewable energy sources and adopting smarter land-use policies.

Large companies can leverage their collective buying power to directly purchase renewable energy to power their operations. Or, if they purchase electricity through a local utility, they can demand that their utility offer more renewable energy options. For example, there are over 20 special utility renewable energy options across 15 states, with large companies playing a big role in helping develop many of them. By driving a transformation of the electricity system, companies can help promote and scale renewable energy sources, all while reaping considerable savings and growing jobs.

How companies and their suppliers use land presents an effective and relatively untapped solution to climate change. From global food production and consumption, to forest management and infrastructure development, these practices produce 12 billion tons of emissions globally each year – greater than the emissions from cars, planes, trains, trucks and ships combined. But a new approach to land use that focuses on long term sustainability and growth instead of immediate, short-term returns can achieve 30 percent of the emissions reductions needed to fulfill the Paris Agreement. For example, companies can promote climate-friendly agricultural practices like cover crops and no-till farming. And they can help address supply chain impacts on deforestation.

Hundreds of companies like McDonald’s – along with the cities, states, regions and countries where they operate – have already begun to implement these solutions, and many others. More than 3,000 of these climate leaders have committed to helping America, and beyond, fulfill its pledges under the Paris Agreement as part of the We Are Still In coalition. Collectively, we represent half of American citizens and about half of the country’s total economic output.

The Global Climate Action Summit provides business leaders and others with the opportunity to learn from one another and commit to more aggressive goals. We urge business leaders around the world to join the move toward science-based climate targets, and to embrace renewable energy and land use solutions that will help them meet those targets. Together, we can strengthen our environment and foster a safe, sustainable planet for future generations. 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

This was originally published as an open letter in the San Francisco Chronicle.

  • Date: 10 September 2018
  • Author: Martha Stevenson and Linda Walker of WWF's Forest Team

Walmart’s Project Gigaton is a supplier-focused initiative to prevent one gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions across their global supply chain over 15 years (2015-2030). Project Gigaton aims to inspire suppliers to reduce emissions across their own operations and supply chains.

There are six pillars of Project Gigaton through which suppliers can reduce emissions: energy, agriculture, forests, packaging, waste, and product use. World Wildlife Fund works with Walmart on several of these pillars to help suppliers reach their targets. In this blog, Martha Stevenson, Director of Forest Strategy and Research, and Linda Walker, Director of Responsible Forestry and Trade, share why the forests pillar is so important to Project Gigaton.

What’s the connection between forests, corporate supply chains, and GHG emissions? 

Forests can be both a source and a sink of GHG emissions in a company’s supply chain.

Globally, land use change contributes 12 percent of emissions.  Much of that comes from deforestation, driven largely by forest clearing and subsequent burning to expand agricultural production, particularly in tropical regions to produce commodities like beef, soy, palm oil and pulp.

Forest degradation is another source of emissions, which occur largely from illegal or unsustainable forest management practices, including things like “high-grading” (cutting only the highest value trees of a few species) and careless harvesting, which can damage soils and streams. These practices degrade the forests’ ability to provide water filtration, wildlife habitat and carbon storage.  

Forests also sequester carbon emissions – meaning they suck carbon back out of the atmosphere as they grow and store it in the trees. In fact, trees are one of the best large scale “technologies” that can do this in the world today. Project Gigaton includes opportunities for companies to support forest restoration and harness tree regrowth for climate benefits. Healthy forests not only absorb carbon and help slow climate change, but they also provide for the livelihoods of the 1.6 billion people who depend on them every day.

If a supplier has already set an emissions reduction goal what is the value of joining Project Gigaton?

We are entering a phase of collaboration in the forest, food and land sector that is essential to moving the needle on land sector emissions reductions. There are hundreds of companies who have goals to avoid deforestation and forest degradation and who are working in and across their supply chains to achieve those goals – but they are hitting barriers. By joining Project Gigaton, suppliers will obtain support in accomplishing their land sector avoided deforestation and climate goals. The corporate sector can be incredibly powerful in making change – particularly when working together with governments, local interest groups and local producers in forested landscapes. For companies who have not yet been active in climate conversations but have been watching and wanting to get involved, joining Project Gigaton is an opportunity to dive in and test out some new approaches in projects like restoration initiatives.

What support do companies get from Project Gigaton?

When companies join Project Gigaton, they are provided access to resources that can help companies advance their goals – from linking up with certified products to finding new verification and validation tools. Companies are also able to tap into collective efforts we’re calling landscape and jurisdictional approaches – where they can work together in a landscape to help advance goals to stop deforestation or support restoration projects together with governments and local groups. Within Project Gigaton there are built-in supports and pre-vetted opportunities, so companies don’t have to go out and start those relationships on their own.

If a supplier is considering joining and making a commitment under the energy pillar, should they also be considering the other pillars? What’s the value in signing up across the platform?

What pillars a company joins through Project Gigaton really depends on what type of company it is and where emissions occur in the supply chain. For example, for a food, forest or land-intensive supply chain, companies should look at the agricultural, forest, and waste pillars. But most importantly, companies sign up in the places that are meaningful for them and get the tools and resources they need to succeed.

Who's an example of a supplier that is really leading the way on forests?

Companies who publish strong sourcing policies and goals, report transparently on progress, engage collaboratively with suppliers on solutions and seek opportunities to protect or restore forested landscapes outside of near-term supply chain needs, are leading the way.  Kimberly-Clark, who manufactures brands like Kleenex and Cottonelle, is an excellent example, including through an innovative campaign to engage consumers about responsible forestry and its support for long-term protection of working forests in the Southeastern US.

This blog is part of a series. Please see our Project Gigaton Q&A on food waste here and on agriculture here. You can join Project Gigaton by submitting your own emissions target, or by submitting goals that fall in one or more of the six pillars. Links to join can be found at: www.walmartsustainabilityhub.com/project-gigaton

  • Date: 27 April 2018
  • Author: Tess Lindsey Woodford, Redding, California

The kids are coming this weekend and I need to get out shopping.  Its been a tough week and, honestly, the last thing I want to do is shop.  In fact, I have taken to buying more online lately, not just for convenience sake, but also because of the wider selection of products I can choose from.  And these days, convenience seems to be everything, right? 

But the little voice inside my head always nudges me to shop local first and patronize the independent merchants whenever possible.  See, I’m like most consumers, I want the best price, to choose the best product from the largest selection, and still appease that part of my conscience that tells me to do the right thing.  I’ve always held the opinion that, while many things are out of my control, what I purchase, how I purchase, what I bring into my home, and put into my body, are made up of the choices that I make.   I want those choices to align with my value system for good health and what’s important to me.  And what’s important to me?   My children, grandchildren and their future here on Mother Earth. My family’s future is enough to keep me up at night. And it’s important enough to me to make me stop and shop more wisely and take the time to investigate the products I am looking to purchase. 

Social media sees to it that we are inundated with a lot of different claims, and sometimes it’s difficult to maneuver through the claims and know what’s factual.  We all know that saying it, or reading it, doesn’t necessarily make it so.  So, I do my research and work to make responsible choices and lead by example.  I take my own bottle with me instead of adding another plastic container to the landfills.  I recycle. I try to buy second-hand.  I shop supermarkets that offer organic options.  But there's one label that has made my decision making easier, the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) label . My research has told me that FSC’s existence is to assure me that these products and manufacturers are adhering to the standards that are important to me.  Whether its paper goods, lumber products, furniture or household goods, I don’t have to second guess and that appeases the little nudging voice inside my head.

I’m from a small town, and FSC choices aren’t always available to me.  I ask, and if not available, I reach further.   But the more I ask and consistently purchase locally, the more the retailers adhere to consumer demands.  I’m not going to wait for the politicians, I am going to effect change where I live, and for whom I love.  I do what I can and what is within my own reach.  It’s not a noisy and pushy campaign, but rather a quiet and personal selection.  I’m far from perfect.  I don’t drive an electric car, I don’t have solar panels on my house. But each day, I will continue to do my best within my means to make choices and buy products that work in harmony with the Earth.  Because if everyone does, things change.  And that’s a fact.

  • Date: 01 March 2018
  • Author: Raj Kundra, VP of International Finance

Deforestation is responsible for releasing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than all of the world’s cars and trucks on the road today. And what’s behind most of that forest loss? The production of beef, soy, and palm oil.

Of concern to World Wildlife Fund (WWF), these practices force wildlife from their homes, drive soil erosion and water pollution, and disrupt climates locally and globally. They also threaten the stability of our food supply and pose financial, legal, operational, and reputational risks not just to companies but to their banks, as well.

Environmental degradation and climate change exacerbate difficult growing conditions, undermine agricultural productivity, and threaten to destabilize commodity supply chains. And when companies and their investors cannot see illegal or harmful practices within fragmented and opaque supply chains, it can put companies, including their lenders and investors, in legal and financial jeopardy. Less tangible but no less material, it can also damage brands.

While a growing number of banks are committed to protecting natural habitats and promoting environmentally and socially responsible practices among the companies to which they lend, the process is complicated and progress is slow. Fortunately, it may become easier thanks to a new tool from the Global Canopy Program and its partners WWF, Ceres, CDP, and Zoological Society of London.

SCRIPT (Soft Commodity Risk Platform) is a web-based platform that any financial institution can use to identify the business risks associated with financing unsustainable companies; understand and adopt corporate best practices for reducing deforestation associated with soft commodities; and effectively engage companies operating in soft commodity supply chains with step-by step guidance.

SCRIPT hosts two tools: one for benchmarking policy and another to assess portfolio risk. The former, which WWF developed with Global Canopy Program, enables companies to assess the strength and quality of their policy against 150 peer institutions (aggregated and anonymized to protect proprietary data and privacy) and to identify areas of excellence and opportunities for improvement. The custom analysis and subsequent guidance provides information financial institutions can use to quickly improve their policies or to promote areas in which they lead.

The risk tool enables companies to identify and effectively engage clients that are failing to mitigate their exposure to the risks associated with deforestation. With the tool, financial institutions can understand the exposure of their portfolio to deforestation risks, generate risk assessments for portfolios, with customizable criteria, and develop strategies tailored to the institution’s portfolio and issue areas for engaging with portfolio companies.

Financial institutions that make lending and investment decisions based on environmental and social risks and opportunities tend to generate long-term returns that are as good as or better than institutions that do not.

Fortunately, more and more investees and borrowers are taking action. According to the CDP, 87% of companies reporting to them have identified opportunities associated with addressing deforestation, and 73% report a commitment to reduce or remove deforestation from their supply chains. The Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 suggests the investment opportunity will roughly total US$200 billion annually for deforestation-free investment and financing by 2020.

For financial institutions, there are more and more reasons to adopt more sustainable lending and investing practices. And with the advent of tools like SCRIPT that make such transitions easier, the excuses for not taking action are fewer and fewer.

  • Date: 16 January 2018
  • Author: Keith Kenny, Vice President, Sustainability, McDonald’s

Across the globe, companies like McDonald’s are playing a leading role in advancing sustainability. As one of the world’s largest restaurant companies, McDonald’s footprint stretches across more than 100 countries, 37,000 restaurants, serving more than 69 million customers a day. We are listening to our customers, stakeholders, and partners, taking action on the sustainability issues that matter most to them. We are uniquely positioned to collaborate with local communities to help tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges. Studies show the world generates 1.3 billion tons of solid waste a year with the number expected to rise to 2.2 billion by 2025.  Pressure on the world’s forests and other natural systems will also increase as our global population grows. That’s why we are re-upping our commitment on packaging and waste reduction.

McDonald's is making it our goal to offer guest recycling in 100% of restaurants by 2025. We understand that recycling infrastructure, regulations and consumer behaviors vary city to city and country to country, but we plan to be part of the solution and help influence powerful change.

McDonalds C9Text-Stakeholders SL 1200x1200

We will also continue our progress towards offering more sustainable packaging. By 2025, 100% of guest packaging will come from renewable, recycled, or certified sources, with a preference for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. This expands upon McDonald’s existing goal that, by 2020, 100% of fiber-based packaging will come from recycled or certified sources where no deforestation occurs.  This new commitment addresses the remaining 20% of McDonald’s current global packaging that is made from non-renewable resources.

At McDonald’s, we’re always looking to improve. We are on a journey to use less packaging, sourced responsibly and designed to be taken care of after use. We will be working at and beyond our restaurants to increase recycling and composting and support cleaner communities. This means collaborating across industries and partnering with McDonald's operators, crew members and customers.

That journey began more than 25 years ago working with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). Since then we have continued to work closely with EDF as well as WWF and the Forest Stewardship Council, to constantly improve our packaging.

As of 2017, 50% of McDonald’s guest packaging comes from renewable, recycled or certified sources. We’ve also made significant progress on fiber-based packaging and protecting forests through our 2015 Commitment on Forests focused on eliminating deforestation from our supply chain. As of 2016, 64% of McDonald’s fiber-based packaging comes from certified or recycled sources.

While we’ve made significant progress to reduce restaurant waste, we understand the challenges we face to achieve our goal. That’s why we’re working with leading industry experts, local governments and environmental groups, including WWF, to help us achieve our goals.

Achieving these goals is no easy feat, but we believe that setting ambitious targets drives faster change and we can’t do it alone. We will continue to use our scale for good and keep raising the bar on what it means to be a responsible company committed to people and planet.

  • Date: 14 December 2017
  • Author: Kerry Cesareo, Vice President, Forests,

On the surface, the production of natural rubber is as simple as the incision made in a rubber tree. The cut, made on an angle, is shallow and just inches long. A milky white liquid oozes from where the incision was made and slowly drips into a coconut shell attached to the tree. Once there is enough liquid to fill a large bucket, several straightforward steps are taken to turn the liquid into small sheets of rubber which are used to create hundreds of distinct types of products.

I was fascinated with the somewhat primitive nature of the process when I saw it in action in Myanmar a few weeks ago—as it juxtaposes the complex nature of the global rubber industry, which is growing quickly to keep up with the demand from people in the US and beyond for rubber products.

Natural rubber is used to make the tires that are on the cars or bicycles we use to get to work, planes and buses that take us to vacation destinations, and trucks that bring food to the stores where we shop. It’s what makes a soccer ball a soccer ball. It’s on doctor’s hands, when she wears surgical gloves, and on our feet, when we wear sneakers to go for a run.

And, yes, it comes from trees—something that most people don’t know, and I hadn’t thought about much until recently, despite many years working on forest conservation.

An employee of the Myanmar Department of Agriculture teaches villagers in the southern Myanmar district of Tanintharyi how to tap rubber trees. © Hkun Lat

Rubber is an industry that will grow, in large part to keep up with the expected doubling of vehicles by 2050 (70 percent of the world’s natural rubber is used to make tires). But ensuring that the industry does so without having a negative impact on nature and people is a challenge. Already, unsustainable and illegal natural rubber production has emerged as a top threat to many forests of Southeast Asia, where climate and soils for growing rubber trees are ideal. Ninety percent of the world’s natural rubber comes from this region. The same forests that are habitat for elephants, tigers and other endangered species are being destroyed to make room for rubber trees.

Natural rubber production also is a grave concern for people in the region, as the industry is plagued by land grabs and poor treatment of its workers. And forests cleared to plant rubber are the source of livelihoods for millions of people.

It is a challenge, though, that a diverse group of actors from the public and private sectors, including World Wildlife Fund (WWF), are now rallying around so solutions can be put in place before it is too late. We have the advantage of learning from our work on palm oil, paper and other commodities. Sustainability standards for those commodities have been developed and producers are working to meet them.

A key lesson is to, from the get go, include farmers in the process of creating industry guidelines. This is particularly important in the rubber industry, as 85 percent of natural rubber is produced by approximately six million farmers, most who are operating at a small scale.  They are on the front lines, where the challenges related to farming are most evident, as are the solutions.

While in southern Myanmar—where a significant growth in rubber production is expected—my colleagues and I sat cross legged on a wooden floor as rubber farmers from a small village talked to us for several hours about their desire to protect the environment by planting rubber trees on degraded land instead of on land they clear in forests that have high conservation value, yet how hard it is to do so. They spoke about wanting to diversify their source of income to protect against volatility of rubber price. We listened, then talked collectively about solutions they are putting in place on their own and are eager to implement with help from WWF, the government of Myanmar, rubber industry leaders and others.

Just as important as engaging with small-scale farmers is engaging with leaders at large-scale companies. Companies that make tires are key, as they buy 70 percent of the world’s rubber and, therefore, have the financial power to influence production. Automobile makers also are key; a single company often buys 50 million new tires every year. These companies are critical to transforming the way rubber is produced.

Three of them already are doing so. In 2016, Michelin became the world’s first major rubber user to publish a comprehensive policy to ensure sustainable and responsible management of the natural rubber supply chain. Pirelli followed suit this year. Also this year, General Motors announced its intent to commit to sourcing sustainable natural rubber. Other companies are gearing up to do the same, thinking of creating policies that, among other things, prohibit destroying natural forests and infringing on human rights.

We are encouraged by what we are hearing—from the small villages of Myanmar to the large meeting rooms of corporate headquarters—and are hopeful it will quickly lead to a major transformation of the rubber industry. The role of NGOs and others within civil society in making this happen cannot be understated, as they provide perspective and technical expertise on conservation and social issues to ensure credibility and impact.

Stepping away from business as usual in the rubber sector would have a dramatic, positive effect on the world’s forests and local communities. It’s time to do so.

Photos:

© Hkun Lat

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