Future 500 CEO Bill Shireman moderated two discussions during Sustainable Brands 2014 earlier this month that explored major progress made in the past two years in advancing zero-deforestation supply chains and implications for climate, human rights and transparency.
Shireman kicked off the session on day one with an intriguing quote by a famous revolutionary: "There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen."
In recent weeks, decades have been happening. Shireman explained: With extraordinary speed, markets for timber in Asia have been transforming. And now, the transformation is spreading to other companies, continents and commodities.
Future 500 helped bring together companies, NGOs and foundations to talk about the challenges and successes to date in advancing deforestation-free supply chains, exploring the collaborations needed to implement such policies and systems, and discovering what is still needed to accelerate global protection of forests and ultimately the climate.
Shireman turned to Kevin Petrie, Procurement Officer at Nestlé North America, to set the stage with Nestlé's experience of pioneering the business case for sustainably sourcing pulp & paper and palm oil. Petrie advocated for robust transparency, to ensure commodity traceability.
On the supplier side, Asia Pulp & Paper discussed how collaborating with NGOs has been integral to the company's success in implementing its Forest Conservation Policy over the past year.
In particular, Asia Pulp & Paper and Greenpeace have moved from a combative relationship to one of collaboration in order to work toward a shared goal of deforestation free supply chains on the global level. Bill explained this is something we at Future 500 call the green power of markets, or the combination of the power of companies with the purpose of activists to effectively transform markets.
Greenpeace's Amy Moas expounded: "We always do what's best for the forest, which might be a campaign and then it might be collaboration."
Another NGO participant, Robin Barr of The Forest Trust, expanded: "We need to have discussions to get at the root of the problem and find solutions. And there are solutions to zero-deforestation. Transparency is the best way to build trust. If you tell your story of transformation, you will have a much more meaningful engagement with your customers."
Staples, a customer who recently returned to APP, explained their position of disengagement and re-engagement with the pulp and paper supplier: "We want to be part of something bigger. The opportunity to re-engage with Asia Pulp & Paper means transforming paper sourcing. It is important to send a positive market message to APP for their commitment."
On palm oil, Robin Barr of The Forest Trust asserted that corporations could move further and faster than they are. Robin believes the issue can't be ignored and that companies and stakeholders must work together toward a shared vision of implementation.
Chris Elliot, Executive Director of the Climate and Land Use Alliance, advocated not only for environmental protection, but also for addressing social issues related to sourcing.
On day two of the conference, Future 500 gathered Rainforest Alliance, Avery Dennison, Asia Pulp & Paper, Greenpeace, and Climate Advisers on a panel to continue the conversation on conflict and collaboration, on corporate commitments to forest protection, and the need for great government policy reform and enforcement on forests and climate.
Dean Scarborough, CEO of Avery Dennison, shared his motivation as a corporate leader and change agent, whose influence can change industry paper sourcing. With Rainforest Alliance (Tensie Whelan pictured on the left below), Avery Dennison is developing a restorative forest management project in Honduras.
Tensie highlighted agriculture, such as palm oil production, as a source of deforestation that we must work together to address and resolve.
Bill circled back to the idea of decades happening in weeks by emphasizing Glenn Hurowitz's (Climate Advisers) role in advancing zero-deforestation with diverse stakeholders from governments, corporations, and advocacy groups in SE Asia. Glenn connected several issues by highlighting the impacts that unsustainable sourcing of forest commodities have on global warming, such as tropical forest destruction and the draining of peatland for agriculture, both of which release significant carbon. By protecting forests, we help protect global climate. Therefore, corporations committing to zero-deforestation should use their lobbying power to advocate for governmental climate policy too.
And the ultimate message from these discussions?
All in all, coming together for meaningful dialogue has added fuel to the momentum to protect tropical forests.
At Future 500, our goal is to build bridges amongst change agents across sectors so that through our collective actions, we can accelerate the advance of systemic solutions to critical issues, such as global forest protection, by harnessing corporate supply chain and lobbying power. These discussions at Sustainable Brands remind us that protecting our forests are not just the concern of a single government, corporation, or advocacy group, but are a legacy issue for all of us. And as part of this legacy, we look to move from #deforestation to #reforestation efforts.
This post first appeared on Storify on June 24, 2014.