23 Oct 20 | Opinion
Future 500’s Erik Wohlgemuth argues for a holistic approach to tackle the deforestation challenges
Together, they advanced what was then a leading market procurement standard that shifted market demand from endangered and old growth forests toward FSC-certified forest products.
Like many, we are inspired to protect irreplaceable ecosystems and their biodiversity, ensure essential resources for future generations, and to help reduce climate change impacts.
Not far enough
Several factors have combined to intensify the problems stemming from unsustainable harvesting of the world’s last remaining forests. There is an increased global demand for forest commodities. Land tenure rights are unclear and there has been a systematic dis-entitlement of local communities. Particularly in the developing world, government corruption, and weak regulatory and legal structures remain.
This is the stark reality on the ground, a problem of the global north and south alike.
To accelerate protection of the world’s working forests, a variety of key actors across the globe have been advancing zero deforestation supply chains. In the past two years, dozens of executive leaders from some of the world’s leading companies – including some of the most demonised – have made sweeping zero deforestation commitments. The boldest apply to all commodities that contribute to deforestation: timber, pulp and paper, palm oil, soya, beef, tea, coffee, cacao and dissolving pulp.
But these are currently just commitments, and change takes times. Now the much harder task of leveraging supply chain power to affect positive change really begins. Full implementation, verification, FPIC implementation and robust community conflict resolution, and ensuring transparency throughout the supply chain will be challenging, requiring sustained commitment and diligence for years to come.
To achieve such immense supply chain shifts, a multi-faceted approach is necessary. This should draw from the voices of knowledgeable and practiced stakeholders in frontline local and indigenous communities, local and international NGOs, and the leadership of multi-national corporations and their commodity suppliers.
We believe a holistic landscape and multi-sector approach is the only way to successfully protect and conserve forests.
And this is why we share experience: to roll up our sleeves and learn from those leading this transformative change. We all need to critically challenge ourselves to consider obstacles and ideological differences in order to work creatively and collectively on solutions.
Erik Wohlgemuth is chief operating officer at Future 500. Future 500 is a sponsor of Innovation Forum’s deforestation conference in Washington DC.