The urgency with which we need to address critical sustainability issues at a global scale is accelerating. Deforestation, human rights and other systemic sustainability issues will not be resolved by one organisation alone – it requires holistic and collaborative solutions.
Our new guiding practices for effective company actions in landscapes and jurisdictions helps companies and those who work with them to make real, practical progress on critical sustainability issues at scale.
Companies are stepping up
Companies are making bold commitments to tackle critical sustainability issues within their supply chains and beyond. Where companies have traditionally focused on assuring the integrity of their supply through certification, they are increasingly also committing to broader targets such as restoration or net zero. This wider outlook is driven by multiple factors. Whether preserving the security of a supply increasingly threatened by climate change, fulfilling the expectations of sustainability-focused consumers, or anticipating impending voluntary and regulatory reporting obligations.
Supporting landscape level company action
Certification offers a robust framework of assurance and traceability to underpin action and claims about sustainability in supply chains. Building a similar understanding for sector-level or place-based engagement is still in progress. For this we need to understand how companies can best support performance improvement for critical sustainability issues. As well as provide a framework for companies to communicate how their actions have contributed to those performance improvements.
In the last five years the number and maturity of assessment frameworks for landscape and jurisdictional approaches, such as Landscale and SourceUp, has grown. We have also seen organisations helping make jurisdictional level action more accessible for companies at a regional level, like Indonesia-based LTKL and Brazil-based PCI. Companies are being encouraged to report their progress towards landscape or jurisdictional level initiatives, including through reporting initiatives such as CDP’s global disclosure system.
With great progress being made, it is important to align expectations about how companies engage with landscape and jurisdictional initiatives. And, by learning from the fledgling action taking place, we can collectively make these initiatives more effective.
Four guiding practices
Our new guidance provides a practical starting point for companies on how they can engage in landscape and jurisdictional initiatives. Developed by ISEAL in collaboration with Tropical Forest Alliance, Proforest, WWF and CDP, with further input from leading landscape and jurisdictional practitioners, the guidance represents a growing consensus on good practice for company action. It highlights four areas that companies should consider when addressing systemic issues beyond their supply chain.
The first practice area highlights the need for companies to identify where they should focus, what critical issues need to be addressed, and the type and level of investment required. Companies should prioritise and target investment towards locations with the biggest risks or greatest opportunity to benefit from the resources available.
To maximise impact when addressing systemic sustainability issues, relationship-building and collaboration are key. A company needs to understand the local context to identify how their actions can best contribute to a wider framework of collective action and ensure more meaningful long-term change.
Measuring progress against landscape-level performance goals requires companies to monitor and share the results of their actions. Companies need to support a collective monitoring framework that can help align efforts to monitor landscape level performance over time.
The fourth practice highlights the need to ensure that claims and communication are truthful, relevant and proportional. In setting ambitious targets, whether for conservation and restoration, net zero or living incomes, it is important that communication is transparent and recognises the collaborative environment leading to change.
Most companies start their journey to tackle sustainability issues by focusing on actions within their own supply chain. This is and will remain critically important. The increasing focus by companies looking for additional solutions to address systemic sustainability issues at scale offers hope at a critical point for global sustainability progress. As more organisations embrace landscape initiatives to create impact at scale, ISEAL will continue to convene leading practitioners to capture learning and refine the guiding practices.