Global dialogue is needed to advance green commodity value chains, increase coordinated ecological practices, scale-up good practices and build consensus according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Currently, 90% of tropical deforestation is linked to agriculture, driven largely by palm oil, timber, beef, and soy trade. Commodity-driven trade is a significant driver of biodiversity loss for developing countries, as well as the global climate crisis.
With COP27 in Sharm El-Sheik currently underway, climate agreements and ongoing negotiations on nationally determined contributions (NDC), strategies, action plans, and the effects of international trade are often overlooked and unaccounted for. Therefore, market-based tools like sustainability standards and similar systems that impact trade are underutilised drivers for meeting global biodiversity and climate goals.
Therefore, the WEF argue policymakers should seize the opportunity to use sustainability standards to make international trade and investments key drivers of biodiversity conservation and low-carbon development.
Driving sustainable trade and investment
Market-based voluntary sustainability standards and related systems are powerful tools to conserve biodiversity and address climate change resulting from trade.
These systems can protect food security while accelerating the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework expected to be determined, along with many other climate actions, at the Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of the Parties (CBD COP15) in Montréal this year.
Sustainability systems incentivize performance improvements along global value chains, from the smallest producers to the largest multinationals. Additionally, they provide mechanisms for accountability and reporting of sustainability impacts.
Scope, scale, and effectiveness in conservation
A record number of farms and forests are producing and trading sustainable commodities, in which voluntary sustainability standards are essential facilitators. Voluntary sustainability standards are now active in more than 80 industrial sectors and over 180 countries.
In the agricultural commodity sector alone, certified areas grew by more than one-third from 2015 to 2019. Sustainability systems have mechanisms to address the key drivers of forest and biodiversity loss in the agriculture and forestry sectors, fuelling biodiversity conservation and climate adaptation and mitigation.
Global dialogue and collective action are needed
The WEF argues global action is needed to equip regulators and value chain stakeholders to partner with sustainability systems effectively. Efforts must also address ways to increase credibility and reduce the complexity of these tools for every value chain actor.
Dialogue is needed regionally and internationally in order to phase out value chains that drive deforestation. Dialogue among developing countries and advanced economies like the US, the UK, and the EU on implementing sustainability systems in trade and investment are critical areas of latent cooperation.
Technologies and innovation in sustainability systems are critical, particularly in tools that help reduce costs to producers, traders, and consumers. In addition to certification, many sustainability systems are collaborating with governments and other civil society actors at the jurisdictional level so that an entire region can reach a certain sustainability threshold.
These systems provide the capacity, assurance, and impacts to supercharge the delivery of global sustainability commitments through international trade and investment.
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