Three ways that companies can achieve deforestation-free supply chains: lessons from the field by Aidenvironment

Geoanna Corneby

Partnerships & Communications Manager, Aidenvironment

In a fight against climate change, the world has rapidly turned its attention to protecting forests and natural ecosystems. At COP 26, a total of 141 countries committed to eliminating deforestation from commodity trade and production by 2030. Companies have a crucial role to play in these efforts. At Aidenvironment, we implement forest programs in partnership with companies to protect forests and advance sustainable agro forestry production. Here are efforts we have found most useful:

 

1. Monitor suppliers to ensure commodities purchased are free from deforestation and exploitation

For companies committed to the UN Global Compact’s Ten Principles, the crucial task of ensuring that their supply chains are deforestation and exploitation-free is made difficult by the lack of data on their suppliers. Aidenvironment helps address this by monitoring and analysing millions of data points to locate where deforestation occurs, who is involved, what crops are linked to it, and which companies are buying from these suppliers. We focus on commodity supply chains most linked to land-use change, including palm oil, soy, cattle and timber. As actionable information is made available to traders and buyers, they are better able to engage suppliers, refuse purchasing unsustainably produced commodities, and create incentives for sustainable production. Practices on the ground shift to avert forest loss when market access is limited to deforestation-free products.

Figure 1. A snapshot of Aidenvironment’s monitoring system for complex cattle supply chains.

2. Invest in value chains that contribute to reforestation and sustainable agroforestry landscapes

An opportunity for companies lies in the conservation, restoration and protection of forests and other ecosystems. These solutions have the potential to contribute up to one-third of the climate mitigation needed to meet Paris agreement targets.

At Aidenvironment, we develop agroforestry projects in partnership with companies that have an interest in increasing agroforestry productivity while addressing environmental challenges and increasing smallholder incomes. As an example, we work with two companies in Uganda—one exporting coffee, the other a Dutch company exporting jackfruit to the Netherlands. The project involves working with farmers to promote the planting of jackfruit trees and banana shade trees intercropped with coffee. The program helps develop farmers’ capacity for regenerative agriculture. Interventions increase soil health, improve water supply (with trees capturing more rain and reducing runoff), increase the quality of farmers’ produce, and create additional income streams through carbon credit markets and higher prices for quality produced crops.

Figure 2. A video preview from Aidenvironment’s Green Future Farming programme that works with farmers to promote reforestation and regenerative agriculture.

The project was inspired by the ongoing success of Aidenvironment’s Green Future Farmingprogram in Mt. Elgon, Uganda – funded by the IKEA Foundation – that has seen increased yield and tree cover, growth in farmer incomes and improved soil and water management in coffee production in the region.

 

3. Explore how to integrate sustainable agroforestry systems that are financially viable for companies and farmers

Aidenvironment has worked with companies on multiple projects aimed at improving crop yield and quality while increasing the sustainability of the entire landscape. In Kulon Progo, Indonesia, we support private sector investments in organic palm sugar and other agroforestry crops. In Carmen, Philippines we work with the private sector to increase banana productivity. These initiatives prevent landscapes from being ploughed or deforested for short-term returns on annual crops like maize and cassava. Other crops, such as banana, provide financial returns, avoids the use of harmful pesticides, herbicides and artificial fertilizers, and reverses soil erosion and drying up of the land. For successful programs, creative collaboration with stakeholders is required to come up with sustainable agroforestry systems that are financially viable for both companies and farmers.

The impact of Aidenvironment’s programs advances multiple SDGs:

  • SDG 1 No Poverty: Sustainable agroforestry solutions increase yields of smallholder farmers (up to 15%) and increase their household income (up to 10%),
  • SDG 12 Responsible production and consumption: Sustainably produced crops reduce pressure on the environment and regenerate the landscape,
  • SDG 13 Climate action: Reforestation and regenerative agriculture halts further landscape degradation, increases soil fertility and mitigates climate change effects such as erratic water cycles and erosion,
  • SDG 15 Life on land: Efforts to make food systems and commodity supply chains more sustainable contribute to protecting biodiversity, standing forests and natural ecosystems.

Aidenvironment is open to providing guidance on these approaches. Please reach out to Joana Faggin for questions on our work on deforestation-free supply chains and Rommert Schram for our projects on reforestation and sustainable landscapes.

¹Aidenvironment’s database layers publicly available information on land use, land ownership, supply chains, corporate ownership structures and finance flows, which are then supplemented by satellite technology and on-the-ground investigations to identify deforestation hotspots, actors involved and other information that will allow companies to take appropriate measures to ensure the sustainability of their supply chains.

 

This article is by Aidenvironment, a not-for-profit sustainability research, advisory and implementation organization with a mission to protect and restore forest and agricultural landscapes and improve livelihoods. We combine evidence-based research, presence on the ground and multi-stakeholder insights to support public and private sector stakeholders in their sustainability goals.