Anybody who has spent time exploring solutions and strategies for effective and sustainable procurement, particularly of food and forestry produce, will be familiar with the benefits of taking a landscape approach. By addressing environmental and social challenges at a landscape or jurisdictional level, there is scope for multiple stakeholders, including businesses, NGOs and local governments to work together to find solutions.
With widespread acceptance that any one organisation will not resolve systemic issues such as deforestation and human rights abuse in isolation, it is an approach that fosters the necessary holistic and collaborative solutions.
The benefits of such an approach have been widely discussed. From securing and maintaining a licence to operate and unlocking investment in conservation efforts to overcoming the impacts of a changing climate, it makes sound business sense to engage in a landscape approach.But putting the theory into practice has so far been thin on the ground. The “why” is fairly clear; the “what” and “how” less so.
Step by step approach
ISEAL, which supports ambitious sustainability systems and their partners to tackle the world’s most pressing challenges, hopes to change that. It has produced new guidance that sets out the practical steps
companies can take in using landscape approaches to supply chain management to scale up and accelerate sustainability.
Developed in partnership with Tropical Forest Alliance, Proforest, WWF and CDP, the guiding practices give companies a useful roadmap to help them invest in the right initiatives, monitor progress and manage claims. Building on a broader consultation with technical practitioners, the guiding practices represent a growing consensus for what constitutes good practice for how companies can take action.
The guidance explores four key areas ISEAL believes companies should be thinking about when it comes to addressing the big systemic issues that emanate from beyond their supply chain. It says businesses should:
1. Prioritise action by identifying where they should focus their attention and investment, and considering the level of investment that might actually be required. “Companies should prioritise and target investment towards locations with the biggest risks or greatest opportunity to benefit from the resources available,” says ISEAL’s manager for policy and innovations, David D’Hollander.
2. Maximise impact by understanding what role they are best placed to play within a collaborative approach operating at scale. Getting a grip on the local context is key to working out how actions can best contribute to meaningful and lasting change.
3. Measure progress against landscape-level performance goals. They can do this by supporting collective monitoring and being transparent about what they are achieving through their actions.
4. Communicate results and be truthful, relevant and proportional in what they communicate. “In setting ambitious targets, whether for conservation and restoration, net-zero or living incomes, it is important that communication about progress is credible and recognises the collaborative environment leading to change,” D’Hollander adds.
ISEAL’s guidance is short (at just five pages) but rich, with plenty of links and references to read further. Importantly, it has been developed with and is intended to complement the many other landscape frameworks and platforms launched in the last few years to make landscape and jurisdictional approaches to supply chain sustainability a reality.
The likes of Landscale
are maturing and becoming more popular. At a regional level, companies are supporting actions in line with the priorities of Indonesia-based LTKL
and Brazil-based PCI
to make progress too.
ISEAL is also keen to point out that while a landscape approach is key to creating a multiplier effect of good practice, certification standards and similar tools still have a key role for companies. “This is first about ensuring the integrity of your supply through certification and similar tools and then looking more broadly at the regions from which you source,” D’Hollander suggests, spelling out the benefits of standards and certification in effectively managing corporate supply chain risks.
Collaboration can be difficult. For many companies, going it alone – supporting capacity of direct producers or contributing to direct conservation efforts, for example – can often feel like the easiest thing to do. ISEAL’s guidance aims to show how companies can be more effective and impactful through collaboration in landscapes and jurisdictions, aligning on common goals and developing solutions that will have a positive impact. “This is how we will create long-term sustained impacts at scale,” D’Hollander concludes.
This content is supported by ISEAL. You can download the guidance and learn more about ISEAL’s work here.