Forests and agriculture | Opinion

Business can’t save forests alone

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Save what's left; restore what's been destroyed

Scott Poynton argues that while business has an essential role to play in combating deforestation, it isn’t going to solve the problems on its own

“Business saves the forests” is too simplistic a prediction or a wish. It’s going to be more complex than that, and it’s not down to any one business to save forests in the same way that we shouldn’t celebrate any one NGO or expert or whoever for being the only player involved in saving forests.

It’s a change ecosystem at work and we need to better understand the role that all the many players play in order to go to scale. In that sense, I get frustrated with environmental journalists because they seldom help people understand the true, deep nature of the change process.

They do quick, simple, even lazy analyses of change processes with their headlines: “Company X caves into NGO campaign”. It’s never, ever that simple. Change is far more complex and happens deep in the private and mysterious recesses of the human heart and has many things that influence when it might or might not be embraced.

Yet, such reporting reinforces the “righteous victor beats evil company” thinking that might be great for NGO fundraising but doesn’t help save forests because it hinders getting more businesses make the necessary change, causing them to recoil from the tough introspection that’s part of the process.

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