31 July 2018
WWF Event “Bends the Curve” on Forest Loss
UN Photo/Eva Fendiaspara
story highlights

At the margins of the HLPF, WWF convened an event to discuss the intersection of land use, food systems and climate change.

Panelists from McDonald’s, Anheuser-Busch InBev and Rabobank outlined steps their companies were taking on sustainability with respect to forests, food, land and climate.

17 July 2018: An event titled, ’30×30 Forests, Food, and Land Challenge: Bending the curve on forest loss,’ convened on the margins of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) to discuss the intersection of land use, food systems and climate change. Organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and hosted at the World Economic Forum (WEF), the event highlighted actions that companies are taking to increase sustainability and halt deforestation in their supply chains.

Kavita Prakash-Mani, WWF, opened the event by highlighting the scale of the issue, noting that the world lost 40 soccer fields of forests every minute in 2017. She recognized progress, such as a moratorium in the Amazon, but emphasized that some forms of forest loss are accelerating due to natural feedback loops, such as increasing forest fires due to climate change. Looking ahead to the Global Climate Action Summit to be held in California, USA this September, she stressed the need to get non-state actors to make commitments around the nexus of forests, food and markets. She also flagged the 30X30 Forests, Food and Land Challenge.

Terri Toyota, WEF, underscored that her organization and WEF’s Centre for Global Public Goods seeks to be a partner in—rather than a host for—public-private collaborations. She emphasized that in providing a platform for cooperation, WEF can help catalyze and codify multi-stakeholder partnerships to accelerate the speed and scale of action.

Opening the panel of speakers, WWF’s Josefina Braña-Varela described the doubly-negative impact that deforestation has on the planet, stressing that prior to their loss, forests serve as a carbon sink. Four commodities, she noted, drive the majority of forest conversion: beef, soy, palm oil and pulp/paper. Building on Prakash-Mani’s remarks, Braña-Varela presented key aspects of the 30X30 Challenge, which calls on “businesses, states, city and local governments to take action on better forest and habitat conservation, food production and consumption, and land use,” delivering 30% of the climate solutions needed by 2030. Doing so, she noted, entails strategies around food loss and waste, resilience and transparency, among other initiatives.

Panelists from McDonald’s Corporation, Anheuser-Busch InBev and Rabobank outlined steps their companies were taking to address issues relating to land use, deforestation and climate change. Rachel Sherman, McDonald’s Corporation, highlighted their involvement in the Amazon Soy Moratorium and noted that the company leverages its scale to drive impact, for example, through their setting of science-based targets. One challenge, she described, is that they do not manage the majority of restaurant locations (which are run by franchisees), and that McDonald’s does not actually produce goods, meaning that much of their work on sustainability revolves around collaboration with suppliers on sustainable sourcing practices.

Gregory Belt, Anheuser-Busch InBev, described the relationship between the environment and the primary ingredients used in their production processes (water, barley, rice, yeast, and hops). He outlined ways in which company works with suppliers, depending on the scale of their operations. These include applying analytics tools for larger farmers and offering agronomy skill-building and crop management protocol to smallholders, among other initiatives.

Michael Rinaldi, Rabobank, discussed the bank’s strategy with regard to agribusinesses and highlighted their action plan around soils, food waste and supply chain stability. Rinaldi also highlighted the formation of a US$1 billion fund with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP, or UN Environment) that aims to make forest protection and sustainable agriculture more attractive to financiers.

On measuring outcomes, participants underscored the importance of key performance indicators (KPIs). They emphasized that externally-verified targets, certification schemes for various sectors or commodities and credible reporting systems have served to increase traceability and sustainability, despite the lack of standardized definitions. The discussion also acknowledged the lack of a silver bullet, that moving beyond operational efficiency to innovate and scale solutions is needed, and the importance of transcending political cycles via market signals and actions.

Prior to the event, WWF released a publication titled, ‘Forests and Sustainable Development: The role of SDG 15 in delivering the 2030 Agenda.’ [Event Page: 30X30 Forests, Food, and Land Challenge: Bending the curve on forest loss] [Website: 30X30 Forests, Food and Land Challenge] [SDG Knowledge Hub Guest Article by WWF authors on Forests and the 2030 Agenda] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Publication] [SDG Knowledge Hub Sources]

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