TFT brokers agreement to end destructive practices
In an agreement brokered by TFT, Asia Pulp and Paper Group (APP) announced today an immediate end to all natural forest clearing in its supply chains in Indonesia.
The company’s pledge, along with its improved transparency and accountability processes, will help protect some of Indonesia’s most important remaining forest areas, home to Sumatran tigers and orangutans; recognise and respect the rights of the region’s indigenous peoples, many of whom depend for their livelihoods on forest resources; and protect forested peatlands that store massive amounts of greenhouse gases.
“APP’s decision marks a turning point for the role of industry in the destruction of the world’s most vulnerable forest regions,” said Scott Poynton, the executive director of TFT, which worked closely with APP and with Greenpeace as the two negotiated meaningful new conservation guidelines for the company. “If one of the world’s largest paper producers can identify a way to clean up the complex social and environmental issues that plague its supply chain, then others can do so too. This should mark the start of a global push to address the most destructive drivers of deforestation worldwide.”
In today’s announcement, APP outlined a set of policies—part of its agreement with TFT— that will end its role in the practice of destroying forests to make room for tree plantations. The company also pledged to respect the rights of forest-dwelling communities and bring all third-party suppliers into line with its sustainability efforts. The new policies, which went into effect February 1, apply to all of the company’s operations around the world, its suppliers in Indonesia as well as its paper mills abroad, including those in China.
Poynton says the agreement is unprecedented for APP. Globally, he adds, it represents a possible tipping point for using the influence of advocacy groups such as Greenpeace to affect the role of the private sector in global deforestation and climate change. The key, he says, is to hammer out a strategy for how industry can do the right thing while surviving economically.
“APP’s commitments are far-reaching,” Poynton said. “There is of course a lot of work to be done to implement the policy in its entirety, particularly on the social and community engagement front where conflicts between the company and communities remain. But that work is underway, as are the tactics TFT will use to monitor and transparently report their progress. APP’s commitments show other producers worldwide—whether they sell pulp and paper, palm oil, soy, or beef—that it is possible to run a business without destroying humanity’s habitat.”
TFT has a proven track record of designing deforestation-free supply chains for companies worldwide—from a timber company in the Republic of Congo to a shoe retailer in the European Union. Most notably, TFT has shaped “no deforestation” policies for the food powerhouse Nestlé and the world’s second-largest palm oil producer, Golden Agri-Resources—in 2011, TFT successfully helped GAR launch a Forest Conservation Policy.
TFT is now using this same model in working with APP to change the way it supplies its mills with fiber—the building block of the company’s internationally-produced and distributed paper products. Half of TFT’s 100-member team is based in Indonesia, where they work directly with suppliers feeding into global supply chains.
“If our experience with other companies is any indication, we’re confident that this partnership will enable APP to truly turn over a new leaf,” Poynton said. “With little hope that world’s governments will ever agree on a climate change treaty, companies have a huge role to play in reducing emissions, and deforestation has always been a primary target. We will closely support and monitor APP to make sure its contribution is realised.”
The forest conservation policy that APP unveiled today with TFT and Greenpeace includes the additional commitments that were implemented with immediate effect on 1 February 2013 under the supervision of TFT.
APP and its suppliers will only develop non-forested areas, as identified through independent High Conservation Value Forests (HCVF) and High Carbon Stock (HCS) forests assessments. It will suspend suppliers that do not comply with these guidelines, which identify forests with high ecological, social (HCVF), or climate change mitigation (HCS) value.
APP will support the Indonesian government’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by ensuring that forested peatland is protected and that GHG emissions from these natural resources—known to store significant amounts of carbon—are reduced or avoided.
To avoid and resolve social conflicts across its supply chain, APP will work with stakeholders, including civil society, to implement free, prior and informed consent of indigenous people and local communities; the responsible handling of complaints and of conflict resolution; and open and constructive dialogue with local, national and international stakeholders. Furthermore, APP will respect the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities where new plantations are proposed. This includes recognition of customary land rights.
“We have reached this point by working closely with APP and some of its stakeholders, including Greenpeace, to get our arms around the complexity of the issues facing the company,” Poynton said. “Our discussions have been informed by the realities of the field—our teams are out there studying APP’s practices and those of its suppliers; talking with communities and visiting factories; as well as learning the social and political dynamics of the many different regions where APP has operations. The bottom line is that APP can’t keep going in business the way it has been; customers don’t want deforestation.”