I was thrilled to learn of the announcement today by Marc Bolland, CEO of Marks & Spencer, at the Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) Forests Day in Paris that the Consumer Goods Forum co-chairs intends to prioritize commodity sourcing from areas practicing sustainable agricultural production, forest protection and protection of livelihoods. In reality, production of the commodities that we all rely on is not possible without protecting the land, forests and communities involved. Tropical Forest Alliance partners and co-chairs of the Consumer Goods Forum, Marks & Spencer and Unilever and others have come together to support a “produce-protect” paradigm of rural development.

Also known as “jurisdictional forest, climate and agriculture approaches” or even “place-based multistakeholder partnerships”, this model demonstrates domestic public-policy measures for forest protection and land use planning aligned with international support and blended finance solutions to de-risk investment in sustainable intensification for agriculture and forest productivity, on the back of sourcing commitments from corporate buyers of sustainably produced commodities.

Going forward, we expect to see high-level government support to design and implement these production-protection partnerships. Then we need all parties to come together via large bilateral and multilateral programmes to support jurisdictions (national or subnational governments) in developing and implementing landscape-level plans to reduce deforestation while putting smallholders and communities at the heart of the agenda. Donor governments, companies and financial institutions have the power to do more individually and in partnership – we hope that this signal from Consumer companies gives this approach a much-needed boost.

Ignacio Gavilan, Director, Sustainability, The Consumer Goods Forum confirms the continued efforts, “We view this intention from companies as a significant step in our work to eliminate deforestation from commodity supply chains. This builds on our Board agreed resolution, with the aim of achieving zero net deforestation by 2020. Over the course of 2016 we will be looking into expanding our implementation efforts through the uptake of this initiative by other members in different geographies.

Another positive sign of support came from Jeremy Wilson, Chair of the Banking Environment Initiative (BEI), who wrote to the Consumer Goods Forum: “Adopting the Soft Commodities Compact sees banks commit to working with Consumer Goods Forum company supply chains to explore how they can finance the growth of markets producing palm oil, timber products, soy and beef in line with required zero net deforestation standards. The BEI has agreed that it wants to find ways to leverage banks’ intermediary roles in capital markets to support such financing solutions in tropical forest countries. Where the relevant parties in commodity sourcing areas are willing to commit to Production and Protection Compacts, we think these capabilities could support them. Such agreements will need to include at the least a clear link – where appropriate a clear legal link – between production investments and forest protection, commitment to long-term financing solutions, sharing of risks through innovative financing solutions and a location-specific focus, be that at a regional or country level. We hope that the Paris Climate Summit can bring together donors, countries, business and others to turn such statements of intent into action.”

The “produce protect” approach incites optimism and is one that the TFA 2020 will follow closely for knowledge-exchange opportunities to the rest of the TFA2020 partner base.

The Consumer Goods Forum companies statement is available here.

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