Events and insight for sustainability

How business can tackle deforestation

14th November
15th November

Timeslots are provisional and exact timings may change


Dragon's Den: IOI’s new zero deforestation commitments under the spot light

There are many challenging aspects to achieving and maintaining zero deforestation supply chains. When deforestation is found, companies must learn from each other to avoid making the same mistakes and work together to solve problems.   

It is no secret that IOI faced a difficult time last year following the suspension by RSPO and the Greenpeace campaign. The company has since been working hard to rebuild and implement a more effective policy. In this ‘Dragon’s den’ style opening session, we will hear from Ben Vreeburg of IOI Loders Croklaan on the company’s most recent zero deforestation commitments which also apply to its third-party suppliers.

The panel of dragons will include Mighty Earth, Robertsbridge and Marks and Spencer. They will provide constructive feedback on IOI’s policies.

We will ask the panel to speak on the following points:

  • How can companies bounce back from these types of set-backs and regain the trust of their customers?
  • Can companies benefit from adopting third party supplier verification policies?
  • Would competitors consider collaborating to aid the recovery and improvement of other companies?
  • How are the costs and benefits (financial, consumer trust, etc.) of these set-backs distributed throughout the organization (e.g. production, marketing, sustainability, other departments) and other companies in the group? How have different strategies and speed of response influenced these corporate impacts?


Ben Vreeburg, director of sustainability, IOI Loders Croklaan

Glenn Hurowitz, CEO, Mighty Earth

Brendan May, chairman and founder, Robertsbridge

Fiona Wheatley, sustainable development manager, Marks and Spencer

Moderator: Toby Webb, Innovation Forum


Coffee Break


Financial institutions are playing catch-up. Can their recent commitments help defund deforestation?

The banking industry is perceived to have been lagging in its efforts to counter deforestation. So far, countering deforestation has not appeared to be a top priority for financial actors. Earlier this year Greenpeace accused HSBC of lending $16.3 billion to companies that are allegedly involved in deforestation. HSBC has since tightened its standards on lending to the palm oil industry and is seen to be making good first steps.  

Can we expect to see a shift in bank priorities towards making more sustainable investment decisions in the future?

Some banks are already leading the way by introducing sustainable policies applicable to palm oil, pulp & paper and agriculture. 

In this session, we will look at what policies banks are adopting to combat deforestation. The panel will speak around the following points:

  • What policies are already in place and how are they implemented? For banks with no policies in place, why is this the case and how can we spur these institutions into action?
  • What is the course of action needed when client accounts are found to be funding deforestation?
  • Deforestation risks are often so far removed from the point of lending that they can be very difficult for banks to detect. How can this obstacle be tackled?
  • What are the most promising opportunities for accessing actionable information on impacts which might influence investments? How can monitoring, metrics and reporting by third parties be improved to meet the needs of investors?


Sylvain Augoyard, corporate social responsibility analyst, BNP Paribas

Myrthe Haas, sustainability risk advisor, ABN AMRO

Hilde Jervan, chief advisor, Council on Ethics for the Norwegian Government Pension Fund

Moderator: Ian Welsh, Innovation Forum


Eliminating deforestation in the supply chain: What new technologies are companies using?

It is a huge benefit for companies to invest in new, emerging technologies to improve their ability to monitor their supply chains and track their deforestation commitments. Various technologies are already in use that allow companies to see if areas along their supply chains are being cleared. But emerging technologies and big data can take the buzz word ‘traceability’ to a new level.

Innovative satellite services are providing high accuracy images and radar that cut through cloud cover, allowing year-round monitoring. Advances have also been made within drone technology, some claim to seed up to 100,000 seeds per day. Technological advancements can enhance traceability, restoration methods and data analysis.

In this session, we will explore what technologies can help companies deliver on their 100% traceability commitments. We will also be discussing:

  • Which technologies are currently being used by leading companies?
  • The issue around accessibility. Is this technology easily available at economic prices, even to small businesses?
  • Panellists will provide a brief introduction to the technologies their organisations are working on /with


Ryan Sarsfield, Latin America commodities manager, Global Forest Watch Pro – WRI

Morgan Gillespy, head of forests, CDP

Niels Wielaard, director – monitoring specialist, Satelligence

Moderator: Stephen Donofrio, senior advisor, Supply change, a Forest Trends Initiative




Supporting smallholder farmers: What has been achieved and what still needs to be done?

 The activities of smallholders can adversely affect the very forests they depend on for survival. It is imperative that they are engaged in the fight to end deforestation.

Leading companies have recognised the need for meaningful supplier interaction and building understanding and knowledge on the farms themselves. Even companies that have overlooked the smallholder challenge until now, are following lead.

In this session, we will hear from Oxfam and Farm Africa about the latest ways in which they are empowering and engaging their smallholders to reduce/eliminate deforestation, by asking questions such as:

  • What techniques work, and why? What have been the impacts of previous smallholder programs and how can impacts be measured? Are there any lessons applicable for several commodities?
  • Can effective techniques that work in one region be scaled elsewhere, for example in Africa?
  • Are NGO and corporate initiatives doing enough, or is there a need for tighter jurisdiction?


Erinch Sahan, head of private sector team, Oxfam

Nicolas Mounard, chief executive, Farm Africa

Moderator: Ian Welsh, Innovation Forum

Tracing a feedstock: the challenge of ensuring deforestation free soy in the livestock sector.

To make soy more traceable and sustainable within supply chains, a more comprehensive approach with legislative support is needed. Governments are reacting as a result and there is an urgent need for consumer company action.

In this session, Stewart Lindsay, vice president of Bunge will provide insight into what they are already doing to ensure sustainable soy within their supply chains, and what more they need to do. Panellists from conservation International and Global Canopy Programme will then offer feedback and further comments. We will be addressing questions such as:

  • Traceability: How can companies trace back the crop within their supply chains to ensure it is sustainable?
  • What measures are companies taking already and is this enough?
  • Legislative framework: What more is needed from governments to curb deforestation for soy?
  • Productivity: Is there really a need to further deforest – or can soy be produced on land that has already been cleared? How can productivity metrics be tied to land use footprint reductions?


Stewart Lindsay, vice president - global corporate affairs, Bunge

Cécile Shneider, manager, sustainable production , Conservation International

Dr Sarah lake, head of supply chain, Global Canopy Programme

Moderator: Peter Davis, principal, Consilience Global


Norway means business. What standards would the Norwegian government like to see fulfilled before it considers the palm oil industry ‘sustainable’?

Norway has been a true leader in its efforts to combat deforestation. In 2015, the Scandinavian nation fulfilled its pledge to Brazil to contribute $1bn to help fight deforestation in the Amazon rainforest and aided Liberia in becoming the first country in Africa to stop tree-cutting in exchange for aid. Similar agreements are held with a handful of other key tropical forest countries.

Norway has clearly communicated to Brazil that if rising deforestation in the Amazon rainforest is not reversed, its second phase billion-dollar financial pledge will fall to zero. The Norwegian parliament has proposed that the government take action on its procurement rules for biofuels from palm oil and on all products, that may cause tropical deforestation. Norway is the present chair of the Amsterdam Declaration, where seven European countries have signed up to support the private sector's pledge to work towards a fully sustainable palm oil chain by 2020.  

This breakout session will give delegates the opportunity to hear from the Norwegian Government and the Rainforest Foundation Norway on what standards they want to see satisfied within the palm oil industry. 

Nils Hermann Ranum, head of the policy and advocacy, Rainforest Foundation Norway

Hege Ragnhildstveit, development policy director, the Norwegian Climate and Forest Initiative, Ministry of Climate and Environment

Moderator: Stephen Donofrio, senior advisor, Supply Change, a Forest Trends Initiative

FPIC: Can it really deliver on disputes around land rights and concessions?

The principle of ‘free, prior and informed consent’ (FPIC) provides indigenous people with a right to give or withhold consent to projects that will affect them, especially actions affecting their customary lands, territories and natural resources. Supply Change research finds that companies producing and/or procuring cattle, soy, timber and pulp, and palm oil require FPIC to be applied for 22% of their commitments. Whilst it helps to establish bottom up participation and consultation of an indigenous population, it’s not always the perfect solution.

There is no single way to ‘do FPIC’. The process will be determined by the people involved, and will be specific to their culture and local context. On a practical level of carrying out FPIC, identifying who should verify that the right to FPIC has been respected can be problematic. Some experiences with third-party audits for the FSC in Indonesia have suggested that verifiers have been unduly lenient about what constitutes adequate compliance.

This session will ask Tom Griffiths from Forest Peoples Programme to speak around the challenges of FPIC, such as:

  • How can companies ensure that FPIC has truly been respected on the ground they wish to operate in? What are the most promising means for monitoring and verifying FPIC for downstream buyers and civil society?
  • How can we protect communities in countries where FPIC has not been included in their binding and non-binding international human rights laws?
  • How can gender insensitivities be corrected to also include women in the decision-making process?


Andrew Whitmore, Forest Peoples Programme

Moderator: Peter Davis, Consilience Global

Emerging deforestation threat – Viscose

Viscose, touted as a sustainable alternative to cotton or polyester, is often used as a cheaper and more durable alternative to silk, commonly in skirts and dresses. Experts say it is just as likely to be found in a £10 t-shirt as a £2,000 suit. Also known as rayon, viscose is made from cellulose or wood pulp, often from soft woods like beech, pine and eucalyptus. Although viscose is made from generally quick growing, regenerative trees, the sustainability of the wood sources varies greatly.

Canopy’s ‘Hot Button Issue’ assessment has rated companies on this issue for the first time ever and their ‘Canopy Style Pledge’ has inspired companies such as Marks and Spencer, H&M and Zara to make similar commitments. Companies have acknowledged that the impacts of viscose production are an industry-wide problem and say they are exploring ways to produce more responsibly. Stella McCartney has also pledged to only use sustainably sourced viscose from Swedish forests.

This breakout session will introduce viscose as a deforestation threat and cover the following points:

  • Where is the most viscose being sourced from? Is this all unsustainable viscose?
  • Who are the industry leaders when it comes to sourcing viscose sustainably?
  • What lessons learned from other commodity supply chains can be applied to viscose?


Fiona Wheatley, sustainable development manager, M&S

Nicole Rycroft, founder & executive director, Canopy

Moderator: Ian Welsh, Innovation Forum


Coffee break


What is the latest progress in jurisdictional and landscape approaches?

Jurisdictional and landscape approaches have been a topic of discussion for some time. Increasing numbers of governments, foundations, NGOs, and companies are looking to jurisdictional scale approaches as ways to help deliver sustainable and deforestation-free agricultural commodities.

Jurisdictional approaches encompass geographical areas as whole, as opposed to focussing on individual suppliers. This type of approach takes economic and social issues into consideration as well as looking at the main deforestation issues. Landscape approaches set a baseline for responsible sourcing but a successful landscape approach needs an engaged group of local stakeholders, which isn’t always the case.

The panel of speakers in this session will centre their discussion around these points:

  • What is working well for companies using jurisdictional and landscape approaches?
  • What practical difficulties have they overcome?
  • How do we take this further?


Marco Albani, director, TFA 2020

Will Ashely-Cantello, chief advisor, WWF

Violaine Berger, senior manager learning & innovation, IDH Trade

Moderator: Brendan May, chairman and founder, Robertsbridge


Drinks reception


Internal alignment: How to engage buyers to achieve sustainable procurement.

Working towards common goals across departments is vital for successful action against deforestation. This includes collaboration within your own company. But achieving sustainable procurement can prove to be a challenge for many companies. Sustainable practices aren’t always the cheapest options and procurement teams may be inclined to ignore core values in pursuit of the most economic route. Several leading companies have structured policies in place to facilitate sustainable procurement.

In this session, we will be hearing from Danone about:

  • What incentive schemes are most effective in motivating procurement teams to buy sustainably?
  • How can sustainability minded-professionals from different departments lay the groundwork for green-lighting sustainability reforms - from the boardroom down to the procurement offices?
  • What types of collaboration, engagement, metrics, and outreach are most useful for championing these changes?


Judith Jakubowicz, sustainability manager, direct materials, Danone

Moderator: Renzo Verne, TFT


Innovation: how to harness the rise of blockchain technologies?

Ecosphere+ runs projects that support and catalyze sustainable land use in Latin America to address the devastating cycle of deforestation locally, while creating better choices for all of us globally. The projects target the drivers of deforestation and then work with the local communities to identify and implement agriculture, forestry, and conservation activities that produce coffee, cacao, beef cinnamon, rubber and eco-tourism that works with the forest rather than destroying it.

In this Q&A we will hear more about Ecosphere’s projects, specifically the significance of blockchain within their work. The bulk of blockchain ventures fall more into finance and payments but more and more are seeing its potential for sustainability due to its qualities:

  • Tamper-proof, transparent solutions to trace provenance
  • Streamlined, automated processes and inventories
  • Low-cost, faster trading
  • Potential for micro-transactions and plugging into customer engagement


Jessica Verhagen, VP, Business Development & Strategy, Ecosphere+

Moderator: Toby Webb, Innovation Forum


Coffee break


Don’t forget the middle man. How do we incentivise traders and ‘middle players’ to act on deforestation related traceability?

Transparency and traceability are buzzwords that are freely thrown around when discussing how to ensure that your product has come from a sustainable source. However, there is a fine line between being sufficiently transparent and giving away your position when you’re a trader in a supply chain.

Most companies that are actively involved in eliminating deforestation from their supply chains have set goals to achieve 100% traceability, but exactly how can they enforce this down their supply chain to include their traders?

In this session, the Nick Martell-Bundock of Cargill will speak around the following topics:

  • How can traders provide enough information without jeopardising their purpose?
  • What is to stop buyers from buying straight from the source once they’ve found out the sustainable producers? Neste Oil, for example, buys straight from the source to simplify its supply chain.
  • Is 100% traceability really a practical goal?


Nick Martell-Bundock, corporate responsibility & sustainable development lead, Cargill

Moderator: Brendan May, chairman and founder, Robertsbridge


Cocoa: the newest global deforestation threat on the horizon?

Although palm oil is typically in the limelight as the top deforestation driver, cocoa seems to be a fast-rising issue especially in West Africa. NGO Mighty Earth warns of cocoa as a culprit of deforestation especially in Ghana and Ivory Coast.

In March this year, Prince Charles met with major global chocolate companies to form an agreement to end deforestation. The agreement commits 12 leading World Cocoa Foundation member companies, including Mondelēz International, Barry Callebaut, Ferrero and Mars, to develop a plan to be presented at the COP 23 meeting in Bonn in November this year.

In this session, we will assess how to end deforestation in the cocoa supply chain and ask leading companies to share some of the actions that they are already taking, or planning to take, to combat deforestation at the hand of cocoa in West-Africa. 

 In this breakout, we will discuss the following:

  • How much has cocoa contributed to deforestation and where are the current hotpots?
  • What are the root causes, how can they be addressed and to what extent can sustainable practices such as growing it in the shade of the forest canopy mitigate the impact?
  • What do companies individually and collectively already do to drive sustainable, zero deforestation cocoa production? What are the strengths and shortcomings of these practices?
  • What role can other stakeholders play?


Christiaan Prins, head of external affairs, Barry Callebaut

Cedric van Cutsem, global operations manager, Mondelez International

Robert O’Sullivan, deputy senior director, environment group, Winrock International

Moderator: Toby Webb, Innovation Forum

Implementing no-deforestation commitments in practice: how the High Conservation Value (HCV) and High Carbon Stock (HCS) approaches can help

The High Conservation Value (HCV) and High Carbon Stock (HCS) approaches can help companies to implement their no-deforestation commitments. However, with varying definitions of ‘no-deforestation’ in use, it is important for companies to understand how their own commitments can be implemented and what the roles of HCV and HCS approaches can play.

It is also important for downstream companies – including consumer goods manufacturers and retailers – to have a good understanding of HCV and HCS so they can tell whether suppliers are complying with the HCV and HCS approaches and what this means in practice.

This forward-looking session will clarify some common HCV / HCS misconceptions and touch on the following points:

  • How the HCV and HCS approaches can help companies to implement their own no-deforestation commitments
  • What do consumer goods companies need to know about HCV / HCS with a view to informing their procurement policies?
  • What roles do HCV and HCS play halting ‘no-deforestation’ according to different definitions and in different regions?


Joss Lyons-White, standards manager, HCV Resource Network

Christopher Stewart, head of corporate responsibility and sustainability, Olam

Ruth Nussbaum, director, Proforest

Moderator: Ian Welsh, Innovation Forum




What do market consolidation and recent corporate changes mean for certification?

UTZ and Rainforest Alliance plan to merge. The new organization will create a single agriculture sustainability standard, that claims to simplify the certification process and continue to improve livelihoods for farmers and forest communities. Will we see more mergers of certification bodies moving forward?

Cadbury dropped the Fairtrade certification in favour of their in-house fair-trade scheme Cocoa Life. Tesco and Sainsbury’s have followed suit by pledging to ditch the Fairtrade certification in favour of setting their own standards. They will replace the Fairtrade certification with ‘fairly traded’ labels.

In this session, Edward Millard from Rainforest Alliance and Britta Wyss Bisang from UTZ will discuss the merger plans and touch upon the following:

  • What does this mean for certification bodies?
  • Will other companies follow suit and move away from certification in favour of in-house schemes?
  • Who will verify the conditions for the new ‘fairly traded’ standard?


Edward Millard, director Africa & South Asia, Rainforest Alliance

Britta Wyss Bisang, programme director, UTZ

Moderator: Ian Welsh, Innovation Forum


The benefits of collaboration: how willing governments, civil society and business can achieve more, together.

Collaboration between corporations, governments and other stakeholders is crucial to meeting deforestation commitments and climate change mitigation goals. Corporations need a regulatory environment conducive to their reduced deforestation commitments – and governments can provide this. Unfortunately, government goals for economic growth and development do not always sync with zero deforestation commitments, and this poses a challenge to companies.

Collaborations succeed when all engaged focus on common goals – the difficulty is getting parties to put common goals ahead of individual ones that may offer bigger, short-term rewards.

There are various models of multi-stakeholder partnerships to address deforestation. In this session, we will present different models and how they are achieving progress in reducing deforestation in supply chains. The discussion will be centred around the following points:

  • The importance of knowledge sharing to benefit all parties
  • How do governments benefit by helping private sector companies meet sustainability goals often focused on consumers far removed from producers?
  • How can private sector actions and subnational initiatives support Nationally Determined Contributions?
  • Pitfalls to avoid in mobilizing private and public-sector collaborations


Lexine Hansen, chair, TFA 2020

Danielle Morley, European director of outreach and engagement, RSPO

Charles O’Malley, senior advisor, UNDP

Moderator: Brendan May, chairman and founder, Robertsbridge


Closing remarks

A summary of the key points taken from the discussions of the conference.


End of conference

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