Successful Aidenvironment Event on Making No Deforestation Commitments Work

On Thursday 1 December, Aidenvironment hosted an event on Making No Deforestation Commitments Work. No Deforestation commitments are rapidly becoming standard practice and more than 400 have been made. As these commitments involve both material and financial opportunities and risks, the challenge lies in their effective implementation. During the afternoon an interesting mix of clients, partners and other stakeholders from different sectors shared experiences, insights and ideas on making No Deforestation commitments work.

Aidenvironment already has considerable experience with putting No Deforestation on the civil society agenda and lobbying companies in the palm oil sector, and we are now working on implementing these agreements with industry leaders. The investment community in particular has an important part to play in driving the transformation of the palm oil industry and other deforestation related commodities. As part of the Chain Reaction Research (CRR) consortium with Profundo and Climate Advisers we are targeting investors and convincing them to integrate sustainability issues into their investment decisions. In 2016 Aidenvironment received a grant from NORAD-NICFI (the Norwegian International Climate and Forest Initiative) to develop and transfer the knowledge gained in the palm oil sector to other commodities and regions.

The event was introduced by keynote speaker Kristel Verhoef (Active Ownership Specialist, ACTIAM). She recommended focusing on facts rather than on stories when setting sustainability indicators for the private sector and creating a system for rewarding frontrunners. To achieve zero deforestation, she highlighted the importance of multi-stakeholder collaborations between NGOs, governments, companies and investors.

The two cases that followed sparked a lively debate between the presenters, panel members and audience. Tracing Production to Tackle Deforestation by Petra Meekers (Director of CSR and Sustainable Development, Musim Mas Group) gave insights into the challenges of making No Deforestation commitments work. The discussion centered on issues within the supply chain, the leverage of large companies to successfully implement their commitments, and the role of other stakeholder in supporting their efforts.

Sime Darby and Contested Land in Liberia by Tim Steinweg (Consultant, Aidenvironment) moved the discussion toward viable solutions. Most participants agreed that the business model needs to be altered, but opinions differed on how. Ideas included shifting the focus to yield improvement, outgrower models or valuing the ecosystem services provided by forests. Investors were advised to start focusing on value creation instead of value appropriation.

The panel members consisted of Michel Ridder (Project Advisor, RVO, Netherlands Enterprise Agency), Frank Wijen (Erasmus University Rotterdam) and Gabriel Thoumi (Senior Fellow Climate Finance, Climate Advisers, member of CRR consortium).

For more information, please contact Yvon Meltzer.