These companies complain, rightly, that environmental groups have never given them the straightforward guidance they need to implement their commitments. How do we even define deforestation, which sounds simple but isn’t—consider the subtle distinctions between a forest and a wood. What is an acceptable monitoring standard? How should progress be measured and reported? And so on. Without that guidance, there is a risk that each company uses a different standard, no claims can be verified against an accepted benchmark, and no company will be able to make credible claims of progress in implementing their New York Declaration commitments.
The environmental movement has responded. Earlier this year, The Nature Conservancy helped to put together a critical mass of NGOs—WWF, Greenpeace, Rainforest Alliance and others—to provide that guidance, in an initiative called the Accountability Framework. The initiative website—https://accountability-framework.org—now hosts a set of guiding principles, posted for companies and other interested parties to comment on. The public comment period is currently open.
A more detailed operational manual will also be coming out in 2018. Timing is tight, but we still have two years to hit the New York Declaration timeline. Companies have through this month to comment: it would be a good present for the world if we can all buckle down to implementing next year and starting to make the New Declaration more than a statement of intent, but a reality on the ground.
Submit comments to the Global Accountability Framework.