The expansion in the production of agricultural commodities is a key driver of up to 50% of deforestation in the tropics. In the Amazon and South East Asia, cattle ranching, soy and palm oil are the main drivers of recent deforestation. Globally these commodities account for 12-15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time agricultural commodities are a key element of economic growth in rural areas.
The challenge is to ensure the increase in demand for commodities is met through means which offer sustainability and avoid further deforestation. Recent commitments and innovation from governments and the private sector signal a new willingness to tackle this challenge. Taking advantage of this opportunity depends on new multi-partner approaches that remove the barriers along commodity supply chains to implement sustainable practice.
There is also a growing interest in sustainable commodities as part of low-carbon sustainable development. Governments in both producer and consumer countries are exploring ways to promote sustainable commodities and several private sector initiatives seek to face this challenge.
Good progress has been made, but commodity-driven deforestation continues and the paradigm shift in commodities production methods which avoid forest loss remains elusive. It is clear that the solutions will be neither quick nor simple. The efforts of many actors across public and private sectors, at both small and large scale and along entire value chains must be aligned and synergy between responsible business and emerging incentive mechanisms, such as payment for ecosystem services and REDD+, has to be fostered.
Key questions addressed:
- What barriers currently prevent the uptake of sustainable commodities as mainstream production?
- Which high impact approaches and innovative solutions offer the best opportunities to partners in the deforestation free supply chain agenda?
- How can governments, the private sector, civil society and donors best join forces to accelerate change?