The Global Resource Initiative convenes a taskforce of leaders from business, finance and civil society committed to recommend actions the UK can take to address its global commodity supply chain footprint on land, natural resources and ecosystems.
Land conversion for agriculture has been identified as the main driver of tropical deforestation; in total, agricultural expansion associated with commodity production accounts for 70% of all deforestation.
The UK depends on imported commodities. In the 2017 ‘Risky Business’ Report, WWF identified seven key commodities responsible for the majority of its overseas land footprint: beef and leather, cocoa, palm oil, pulp and paper, rubber, soy, and timber. For these commodities alone, the UK’s associated footprint totals 13.6 million hectares a year – equivalent to a land area over half the size of the UK.
The Global Resource Initiative (GRI) is a key part of government’s 25 Year Environment Plan to leave a smaller footprint on the global environment. It will complement existing work to promote sustainable commodities, including the UK Sustainable Soya and Palm Oil Initiatives, and the government’s recent commitment to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The GRI’s ambition is to address the impacts of the UK’s global commodity supply chain footprint, with a focus on deforestation. It aims to establish the UK as a leader on supply chain sustainability and provide a model for global leadership by:
- Ensuring the UK’s global commodity supply chain footprint on land, natural resources and ecosystems is sustainable, avoids deforestation and other environmental degradation, and supports jobs, livelihoods and investment in resilient and sustainable food systems;
- Identifying opportunities to galvanise wider international impact on nature and climate change; and
- Developing recommendations that can be taken forward as a model for global leadership, to inspire and encourage other countries towards the same ambition.
Efeca, a sustainable commodities consultancy firm, supports the Initiative by providing technical support, facilitation and coordination to taskforce members, working groups, and government.
A taskforce of senior sustainability thought leaders came together on 18 July to launch the GRI under the Chairmanship of Sir Ian Cheshire. The taskforce has convened working groups, bringing in a wider range of stakeholders to further investigate the role of business, government, finance, and monitoring and reporting in addressing the ambition of the GRI and to propose recommendations that may be taken forward.
The taskforce has recently published its Final Recommendations Report, setting out a package of measures that represent a new strategic approach to tackling deforestation and land conversion, as a first step towards ensuring global agricultural and forestry supply chains have a positive impact on people and planet.
The package of measures – comprising 14 interconnected recommendations across four themes of activity – will require collective action that builds on existing sustainability initiatives and platforms towards a shared goal.
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This case study illustrates the impact of the UK Global Resource Initiative (GRI) on helping to drive policy change to address deforestation linked to UK supply chains.