Outputs and resources

Relevant papers by EPL members and collaborators:

Criteria for effective zero-​deforestation commitments
Rachael D. Garrett, Samuel Levy, Kimberly M. Carlson, Toby A. Gardner, Javier Godar, Jennifer Clapp, Peter Dauvergne, Robert Heilmayr, Yann le Polain de Waroux, Ben Ayre, Robin Barr, Barbro Døvre, Holly K. Gibbs, Simon Hall, Sarah Lake, Jeffrey C. Milder, Lisa L. Rausch, Rosanna Rivero, Ximena Rueda, Ryan Sarsfield, Britaldo Soares-​Filho and Nelson Villoria
Global Environmental Change, 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2018.11.003
Abstract: Zero-deforestation commitments are a type of voluntary sustainability initiative that companies adopt to signal their intention to reduce or eliminate deforestation associated with commodities that they produce, trade, and/or sell. Because each company defines its own zero-deforestation commitment goals and implementation mechanisms, commitment content varies widely. This creates challenges for the assessment of commitment implementation or effectiveness. Here, we develop criteria to assess the potential effectiveness of zero-deforestation commitments at reducing deforestation within a company supply chain, regionally, and globally. We apply these criteria to evaluate 52 zero-deforestation commitments made by companies identified by Forest 500 as having high deforestation risk. While our assessment indicates that existing commitments converge with several criteria for effectiveness, they fall short in a few key ways. First, they cover just a small share of the global market for deforestation-risk commodities, which means that their global impact is likely to be small. Second, biome-wide implementation is only achieved in the Brazilian Amazon. Outside this region, implementation occurs mainly through certification programs, which are not adopted by all producers and lack third-party near-real time deforestation monitoring. Additionally, around half of all commitments include zero-net deforestation targets and future implementation deadlines, both of which are design elements that may reduce effectiveness. Zero-net targets allow promises of future reforestation to compensate for current forest loss, while future implementation deadlines allow for preemptive clearing. To increase the likelihood that commitments will lead to reduced deforestation across all scales, more companies should adopt zero-gross deforestation targets with immediate implementation deadlines and clear sanction-based implementation mechanisms in biomes with high risk of forest to commodity conversion.


Have food supply chain policies improved forest conservation and rural livelihoods? A systematic review
Rachael D. Garrett, Samuel Levy, Florian Gollnow, Leonie Hodel and Ximena Rueda
Environmental Research Letters, 2021.
Abstract: To address concerns about the negative impacts of food supply chains in forest regions, a growing number of companies have adopted policies to influence their suppliers’ behaviors. With a focus on forest-risk food supply chains, we provide a systematic review of the conservation and livelihood outcomes of the mechanisms that companies use to implement their forest-focused supply chain policies (FSPs) – certifications, codes of conduct, and market exclusion mechanisms. More than half of the 37 cases that rigorously measure the outcomes of FSP implementation mechanisms find additional conservation and livelihood benefits resulting from the policies. Positive livelihood outcomes are more common than conservation additionality and most often pertain to improvements in farm income through increases in crop yields on coffee and cocoa farms that have adopted certifications or codes of conduct. However, in some cases certifications lead to a reduction in net household income as farmers increasingly specialize in the certified commodity and spend more on food purchases. Among the five cases that examine conservation and livelihoods simultaneously, there is no evidence of tradeoffs or synergies – most often an improvement in one type of outcome is associated with no change in the other. Interactions with public conservation and agricultural policies influence the conservation gains achieved by all mechanisms, while the marketing attributes of cooperatives and buying companies play a large role in determining the livelihood outcomes associated with certification. Compliance with the forest requirements of FSP implementation mechanisms is high, but challenges to geospatial monitoring and land use related selection biases limit the overall benefits of these policies. Given the highly variable methods and limited evidence base, additional rigorous research across a greater variety of contexts is urgently needed to better understand if and when FSPs can be successful in achieving synergies between conservation and livelihoods.


When and why supply-chain sustainability initiatives “work”: linking initiatives’ effectiveness to their characteristics and contexts
Rachael D. Garrett, Alexander Pfaff
Meridian Institute, 2019
Abstract: A variety of factors influence whether a corporate sustainability commitment “works” – in other words, whether it successfully achieves its intended sustainability outcomes across targeted geographies and supply chain actors. The Meridian Institute Supply Chain Ssutainability Research Fund convened a small group of researchers to develop a framework of contextual factors that influence the effectiveness of corporate sustainability commitments. The framework offers a better understanding of when and why supply chain sustainability initiatives adopted by companies and producers in the forestry and food sectors improve conservation and sustainability outcomes. The framework identifies several categories of influencing factors, including the ambition and coverage of the commitment (e.g., desired outcomes, stringency, and reach of proposed changes), implementation mechanisms (e.g., type of incentive, implementation timeline and procedures for verifying), and implementation context (e.g., market or supply chain characteristics, producer and household attributes).


Measuring impacts of supply chain initiatives for conservation: Focus on forest-risk food commodities
Rachael Garrett, Ximena Rueda, Samuel Levy, Juan Fernando Bermudez Blanco, Saloni Shah
Meridian Institute, 2018
Abstract: Corporate sustainability commitments represent a key leverage point for shifting production practices through companies exerting market influence on producers and other supply chain actors. Understanding the barriers of translating corporate commitments into producer implementation will be key to informing the development and implementation of strong, achievable future commitments, and to ultimately achieving greater sustainability. To more fully understand the role of corporate sustainability implementing commitments in improved conservation behavior, researchers asked: How do companies, through supply chain sustainability commitments and related initiatives, motivate producers to change management and production practices to more sustainable operations? Researchers summarized the main outcomes of forest conservation initiatives adopted by global agro-food companies, including collective aspirations, company pledges, codes of conduct, sanction-based standards, and geographic standards.


The role of supply-​chain initiatives in reducing deforestation
Eric F. Lambin, Holly K. Gibbs, Robert Heilmayr, Kimberly M. Carlson, Leonardo C. Fleck, Rachael Garrett, Yann le Polain de Waroux, Constance L. McDermott, David McLaughlin, Peter Newton, Christoph Nolte, Pablo Pacheco, Lisa L. Rausch, Charlotte Streck, Tannis Thorlakson and Nathalie F. Walker
Nature Climate Change, 2018. DOI: 10.1038/s41558-​017-0061-1
Abstract: A major reduction in global deforestation is needed to mitigate climate change and biodiversity loss. Recent private sector commitments aim to eliminate deforestation from a company’s operations or supply chain, but they fall short on several fronts. Company pledges vary in the degree to which they include time-bound interventions with clear definitions and criteria to achieve verifiable outcomes. Zero-deforestation policies by companies may be insufficient to achieve broader impact on their own due to leakage, lack of transparency and traceability, selective adoption and smallholder marginalization. Public–private policy mixes are needed to increase the effectiveness of supply-chain initiatives that aim to reduce deforestation. We review current supply-chain initiatives, their effectiveness, and the challenges they face, and go on to identify knowledge gaps for complementary public–private policies.


Using supply chain data to monitor zero deforestation commitments: an assessment of progress in the Brazilian soy sector
Erasmus Klaus Helge Justus zu Ermgassen, Ben Ayre, Javier Godar, Mairon Giovani Bastos Lima, Simone Bauch, Rachael Garrett, Jonathan Green, Michael J. Lathuillière, Pernilla Löfgren, Christina MacFarquhar, Patrick Meyfroidt, Clément Suavet, Chris West and Toby Gardner
Environmental Research Letters, 2020. DOI: 10.1088/1748-​9326/ab6497
Abstract: Zero deforestation commitments (ZDCs) are voluntary initiatives where companies or countries pledge to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains. These commitments offer much promise for sustainable commodity production, but are undermined by a lack of transparency about their coverage and impacts. Here, using state-of-the-art supply chain data, we introduce an approach to evaluate the impact of ZDCs, linking traders and international markets to commodity-associated deforestation in the sub-national jurisdictions from which they source. We focus on the Brazilian soy sector, where we find that ZDC coverage is increasing, but under-represents the Cerrado biome where most soy-associated deforestation currently takes place. Though soy-associated deforestation declined in the Amazon after the introduction of the Soy Moratorium, we observe no change in the exposure of companies or countries adopting ZDCs to soy-associated deforestation in the Cerrado. We further assess the formulation and implementation of these ZDCs and identify several systematic weaknesses that must be addressed to increase the likelihood that they achieve meaningful reductions in deforestation in future. As the 2020 deadline for several of these commitments approaches, our approach can provide independent monitoring of progress toward the goal of ending commodity-associated deforestation.


Transparency and sustainability in global commodity supply chains
Toby A. Gardner, Magnus Benzie, Jan Börner, Elena Dawkins, Stephen Fick, Rachael Garrett, Javier Godar, A. Grimard, Sarah Lake, Rasmus K. Larsen, N. Mardas, Constance L. McDermott, Patrick Meyfroidt, Maria Osbeck, Martin Persson, Thomas Sembrés, Clément Suavet, Bernardo Strassburg, Trevisan Alessandro, Christopher West and Paul Wolvekamp
World Development, 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2018.05.025
Abstract: Over the last few decades rapid advances in processes to collect, monitor, disclose, and disseminate information have contributed towards the development of entirely new modes of sustainability governance for global commodity supply chains. However, there has been very little critical appraisal of the contribution made by different transparency initiatives to sustainability and the ways in which they can (and cannot) influence new governance arrangements. Here we seek to strengthen the theoretical underpinning of research and action on supply chain transparency by addressing four questions: (1) What is meant by supply chain transparency? (2) What is the relevance of supply chain transparency to supply chain sustainability governance? (3) What is the current status of supply chain transparency, and what are the strengths and weaknesses of existing initiatives? and (4) What propositions can be advanced for how transparency can have a positive transformative effect on the governance interventions that seek to strengthen sustainability outcomes? We use examples from agricultural supply chains and the zero-deforestation agenda as a focus of our analysis but draw insights that are relevant to the transparency and sustainability of supply chains in general. We propose a typology to distinguish among types of supply chain information that are needed to support improvements in sustainability governance, and illustrate a number of major shortfalls and systematic biases in existing information systems. We also propose a set of ten propositions that, taken together, serve to expose some of the potential pitfalls and undesirable outcomes that may result from (inevitably) limited or poorly designed transparency systems, whilst offering guidance on some of the ways in which greater transparency can make a more effective, lasting and positive contribution to sustainability.