For the New York Declaration on Forests Global Platform, 2020 has been a year to take stock of progress towards the ten goals set in 2014. The five-year assessment report published last year confirmed that the world is not on track to halve deforestation and we will fail to restore 150 million hectares by the end of 2020. Further, the economic and social impacts of the coronavirus pandemic have created more challenges to protecting forests and ensuring Indigenous peoples and local communities’ rights.
With barely a decade left to meet the NYDF goals by 2030 and a shrinking window of time to stay within the global carbon budget for limiting global temperature increase below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, time is of the essence to preserve forests and meet the climate targets set out in the Paris Agreement. Six years have passed since the Declaration was launched, and the science could not be more clear: forests provide one-third of the solution to climate change and the difference of just 0.5°C can have a significant impact on natural and human systems. Meeting the NYDF goals is crucial to preserve forests, which, as natural carbon sinks, are essential to limiting global temperature increase below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and ensuring health, livelihoods, and food security.
The COVID-19 pandemic has once again confirmed our planet has limits. All endorsers and stakeholders have a role to play in ensuring current production and consumption patterns stay within the planetary boundaries. We must avert another crisis and we all have a role to play. The actions of governments and the private sector in particular will have a heavy impact on our ability to reach these goals.
While there are no silver bullets that can save forests or the climate, there are initiatives that can set us in the right direction on forest conservation. The Accountability Framework initiative (AFi) is one initiative that can help set endorsers of the NYDF and other key governments and companies on the right path.
The AFi can help NYDF endorser and non-endorser companies alike meet Goal 2 (eliminate commodity-driven deforestation) and Goal 10 (strengthen forest governance, transparency, and the rule of law while empowering communities and recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples). The framework provides a pathway for companies on a journey to achieve ethical supply chains by eliminating deforestation, conversion, and human rights violations from their supply chains.
The Accountability Framework was developed by a group of leading non-governmental organizations, including the AFi Steering Group members National Wildlife Federation, Proforest, Rainforest Alliance, Resourcetrust, Social Accountability International, The Nature Conservancy, Verité, World Resources Institute, and World Wildlife Fund, as well as Supporting Partners Forest Peoples Programme, Imaflora, and Rights and Resources Initiative. Other supporting partners include CDP, Ceres, Global Canopy, Forest Trends/Supply Change, Lingkar Temu Kabupaten Lestari, NEPCon, and the New York Declaration on Forests Global Platform. The AFi is co-led by Meridian Institute and Rainforest Alliance.
The Accountability Framework is grounded in a set of twelve Core Principles. The principles are supported by detailed Operational Guidance, and a common set of Terms and Definitions. In addition, the AFi has developed tools and guides to support usage of the Framework.
Companies that produce or source agricultural or forest commodities can apply the Framework in all stages of their journey toward ethical supply chains:
- Companies can apply the Framework to establish clear and effective supply chain commitments and policies in alignment with international norms and civil society consensus.
- Companies can use the Framework’s guidance and tools to inform the development of effective implementation systems addressing traceability, supplier management, responsible production, monitoring and verification, and action at the landscape or jurisdictional level.
- Companies can use the Framework to guide and streamline their sustainability reporting to meet stakeholder expectations while supporting credible claims about performance or progress. The Framework also helps companies identify suitable reporting tools that align with AFi best practices.
As companies scale up and implement their corporate climate commitments, protection of forests and other natural ecosystems must be an essential component of that effort. Utilizing the broadly accepted and clear principles and guidelines of the Accountability Framework can provide a key building block for success and contribute to the achievement of their climate strategies and the NYDF goals 2 and 10 by 2030.
About the authors
Mediator and Programme Associate, Meridian Institute
Leah Samberg, Ph.D.
Scientist, Global Programs, Rainforest Alliance, Accountability Framework
Programme Analyst, New York Declaration on Forests, Nature for Development Programme, UNDP