Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA 2020), a public-private partnership working to halt the clearing and degradation of tropical rainforests for global commodities, is establishing a new secretariat with the World Economic Forum.
TFA 2020’s partners include developing and industrialized countries, more than 20 conservation organizations and some of the world’s largest multinational companies. These companies have made a voluntary commitment within their own supply chains to help achieve zero net deforestation by 2020.
By establishing a new secretariat with the World Economic Forum, TFA 2020 partners aim to tap into the World Economic Forum’s deep history of private sector engagement and help extend TFA 2020’s deforestation mission to more companies and communities. WEF’s location in Geneva is also an asset, given that many of the governments and companies that are part of TFA 2020 are based in or have offices in Europe.
“We’re very excited about this move,” said Lexine T. Hansen, Senior Policy Advisor with USAID’s Global Climate Change Initiative. “This will give us a wider network of partners in all sectors so we can ensure that global sustainability commitments influence better practices on the ground.”
The U.S. government helped launch TFA 2020 through USAID in 2012. Other government partners include, Liberia, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom.
TFA 2020 has steadily added new partners and, earlier this year, hosted a major session on tropical deforestation at the 2015 World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos.
By establishing a secretariat with the WEF in Geneva, TFA 2020 will open up additional opportunities to address tropical deforestation and to expand engagement with corporate and civil society advocates, such as Unilever’s Paul Polman and Andrew Steer of the World Resources Institute.
The new secretariat will add staff dedicated to TFA 2020 in order to assist with strategic planning and engagement and to identify meaningful new opportunities for businesses and governments to work together with communities to address commodity-driven tropical deforestation collaboratively.
TFA 2020 is focused on eliminating deforestation linked to palm oil, paper, soy and beef — commodities that account for about half of tropical deforestation. Its corporate co-founder is the Consumer Goods Forum, which is comprised of some 400 companies, including multinational giants Cargill and Unilever.
McDonalds, whose global supply chains include beef, paper and palm oil, recently joined. The restaurant giant had previously announced that it would only buy palm oil from sustainable sources and aims to begin purchasing verified sustainable beef in 2016.
“Addressing commodities linked to deforestation is a complex global challenge. In order to meet the scale of progress needed, you need to have an alliance with the private sector,” said Hansen.
The Consumer Goods Forum has set an independent commitment of zero net deforestation by 2020. Meeting this target means addressing its companies’ supply chains for palm oil in particular. Its companies use 6.4 million cubic tons each year of it in products ranging from cosmetics to baked goods.
Hundreds of thousands of acres of primary forest have been cleared in recent decades in Indonesia and Malaysia to grow the large fruit trees that produce this oil.
Palm oil was a major focus of TFA 2020’s first workshop, held in Jakarta in 2013. One year later, Indonesia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry led five of the world’s largest palm oil traders in forging an agreement to stop planting on high-carbon stock land or buying palm oil from companies who do so.
These five traders - Wilmar International, Golden Agri-Resources, Asian Agri, Cargill and Musim Mas - represent an estimated 80 percent of the global palm oil market.
This year, in addition to increasing its engagement in Colombia, TFA 2020 is working with African and donor countries to establish a set of best practices for sustainable palm oil production in West and Central Africa.