Frequently Asked Questions
What's wrong with the rural development in tropical rainforest?
Deforestation across the tropics has led to the degradation of biological diversity and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Driving much of the deforestation is agricultural expansion to supply the increasing demand for agricultural commodities across the world. Concerned environmental groups and consumers have responded by boycotting unsustainable products and preferentially purchasing sustainably produced commodities. Consumer goods companies and agribusinesses, responding to these concerns, have sought to improve the sustainability of their supply chains. These initiatives have included avoiding sourcing products from regions of high environmental risk and joining certification initiatives. Companies still face a significant challenge, however, in ensuring the sustainability of their commodity supply chains.
Is it really that bad?
There is hope! Tropical forest states, provinces and other types of political geographies, or jurisdictions, have been making the political pledges, public policies and programs that are necessary to achieve sustainable, low-emission development regionally. These jurisdictions have received little recognition or compensation for these efforts, however, and they are beginning to lose political momentum.
Why this website?
The Sustainable Jurisdictions website, solves these problems by simplifying the process for companies and consumers to purchase sustainable products and by making the status of jurisdictions that are producing commodities of interest accessible. The interface enables companies and consumers to search for places where particular commodities are produced sustainably. These tropical jurisdictions, which are sub-national governments working with companies and civil society, have taken significant steps to ensure that commodities are produced sustainably and ethically. The interface also enables companies to evaluate the performance of jurisdictions where they are currently sourcing commodities. If those jurisdictions are not meeting sustainability criteria, the interface provides a feature which enables companies to make express interest in—or make investments--to improve the sustainability of the jurisdiction.
What is jurisdictional sourcing?
Buyers and consumer goods companies can choose where they source their commodities from based on a range of sustainability indicators and production data. Sustainability indicators could include environmental indicators such as rates of deforestation or greenhouse gas emissions, or social indicators such as social conflicts or recognition of indigenous rights. Other sustainability indicators could include certification standards, such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, or local government commitments to reduce deforestation, such as the Rio Branco Declaration. Companies can then choose to source the commodities they need from jurisdictions who are performing to their standards, or the standards that their consumers are demanding.
How is it different from other sustainable sourcing?
Sourcing from jurisdictions reduces much of the costs and effort of sustainably sourcing commodities. The unit of traceability is moved from farms and plantations to the entire jurisdiction. This saves costs and shifts much of the burden for monitoring and compliance to local governments. When companies source commodities from jurisdictions, they only need to choose those jurisdictions who are meeting their standards, or, otherwise, contribute to improving the sustainability of jurisdiction.
How does it avoid the split market?
Zero deforestation commitments have led to many buyers avoiding producers in areas of high deforestation. This had several effects including penalising smallholders as well as other producers who may not have been directly involved in causing the deforestation. Producers in these regions will still be able to sell their produce to buyers who do not adhere to sustainability standards, resulting in a split market.
Jurisdictional sourcing avoids this scenario by allowing buyers and companies to invest in improving the sustainability of jurisdictions where they are sourcing commodities. These types of investments could include:
- Reforestation and rehabilitation of ecosystems;
- Training smallholders in sustainable agricultural practices and supporting farmer organizations; and
- Building the capacity of local governments to monitor and enforce environmental standards.
How to ensure traceability of the commodities produced within a jurisdiction?
Under jurisdictional sourcing arrangements, local governments will commit to ensuring the origin of commodities produced within their jurisdiction. Traceability can also be monitored through periodic audits of commodity supply chains.