New Project Launch in 2019: A Global Rapid-Response Deforestation Monitoring System
To help reduce deforestation worldwide, Aidenvironment and Waxman Strategies are working on a new project funded by Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) called “A Global Rapid-Response Deforestation Monitoring System.” The project targets commodity buyers and commodity producers to adopt “no deforestation, no peat, no exploitation” (NDPE) policies (or implement them if already available). This will be done by producing high quality and credible rapid-response deforestation reports to identify in a short time span deforestation as it is happening in forests around the world. The reports will be publicly available in order to increase awareness on the risks and consequences of deforestation in the agri-commodity business.
The world is awash with deforestation monitoring data that can be used in the implementation of policy. This kind of remote sensing data has proven highly valuable for helping to reduce or eliminate deforestation where there is a clear business or government mandate for action. Although monitoring and policing deforestation is now possible, affordable, and even relatively easy, in many regions and industries it is not happening with anything near the rigor and frequency required to achieve the potential for dramatic and rapid reductions in deforestation. In addition, the remote sensing and monitoring efforts have not yet fully capitalized on the aggregation of large datasets such as concession data, land deeds, licenses, notary acts, supply chain links, and more.
The project will build on the available deforestation monitoring data and large publicly available datasets and turn it into actionable recommendations.
A photo taken with an aerial drone by our Latin American field team of vast clearance on a tabletop mountain in the Cerrado.
This monitoring system will address the following challenges in current company-by-company implementation efforts:
- Targeted and systematic monitoring of alerts: World Resources Institute (WRI) GLAD alerts detect and flag all forest-cover change, resulting in more than a million alerts per week. While WRI is planning improved prioritization, the quantity of data can still become overwhelming and useless without further filtering and prioritization. We will prioritize the alerts and overlay them with land rights and satellite images to detect and trace responsible within-commodity supply chains.
- Speed: Far too much time lapses between the point when deforestation first occurs and when companies involved face sanctions. Much damage can occur in the interim. Our understanding of the industry, our network of on-the-ground groups, combined with our network of contacts at key traders, consumer brands, and investors, and our reputation for quickly attracting public attention to an issue, enables us to persuade companies to act immediately on deforestation within their supply chain.
- Industry will and leverage for enforcement: Major buyers of agricultural commodities often do not act on supplier violations without external monitoring, which we would create through this mechanism.
- Accountability: In the absence of swift company action to hold suppliers accountable in the face of clear evidence indicating policy violations, where necessary we will take on the role of filing grievances with companies throughout the supply chain, as well as with relevant certification or government agencies. We will also expose violations to the media and launch public campaigns when needed.
- Leakage: Currently, traders individually implement their policies through their own supply chains, without sufficient coordination. As a result, it is often still possible for rogue suppliers that are found in breach by one trader to seek out less discriminating customers and evade NDPE policies. As an independent consortium, we will monitor all deforestation occurring in priority areas, determine responsibility and market and financial linkages, and ensure that our alerts are distributed and followed up across the industry as a whole.
The ultimate goal of this rapid-response monitoring system is to prompt companies with NDPE policies on paper to become more proactive in identifying and addressing violations in their own supply chains and take greater responsibility for developing the systems to monitor and enforce those policies across the industry.
The project will contribute to two of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) objectives:
- a) cost-effective, early and measurable reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation;
- b) conservation of natural forests in order to maintain their ability to bind carbon.
For more information, please contact Marco Garcia.