An independent taskforce was established by the UK’s Global Resource Initiative (GRI), to recommend steps to “ensure that the UK’s global commodity supply chain footprint on land, natural resources and ecosystems is sustainable, avoids deforestation and other environmental degradation, and supports jobs, livelihoods and investment in resilient and sustainable food system”.

This report sets out a package of measures that make up the building blocks of a new strategic approach for the UK to overcome the challenges of commodity-driven deforestation and land conversion.

The package of measures comprises 14 interconnected recommendations across four themes of activity:

  • Setting out a strategic pathway
  • Driving demand for sustainable commodities
  • Aligning collective global action and finance
  • Accelerating change and tracking progress

The taskforce recognizes that success in achieving the measures will depend on collective action by business and finance sectors, consumers, civil society, farmers, producers, and consumer countries working in partnership with producer countries – with the government providing an enabling environment.

Among recommended actions

The UK should:

  • Publish a Strategic Sustainable Commodity Action Plan setting out actions for government, business, finance and other stakeholders
  • Introduce a legally binding target to end deforestation within UK agricultural and forestry commodity supply chains, as soon as practicable, no later than 2030, beginning with commodities and derived products that contribute most significantly to deforestation before extending to other supply chains
  • Introduce a mandatory due diligence obligation on business and finance, strengthen and extend mandatory public procurement requirements and promote mass market business engagement, beyond the leaders, including through a new sustainable food service sector plan.

At a global level:

  • Convene a global call for action on deforestation and sustainable supply chains in the lead up to COP26, to build long-term multilateral partnerships for collective action between producer and consumer governments, companies, finance institutions, farmers, foresters, forest communities and indigenous peoples, beginning with the development of shared roadmaps for agricultural and forestry products in the biomes/ landscapes of greatest shared risk and shared benefit, for nature and people
  • Mobilize global funds, public and private, to tackle deforestation and land-use conversion and support sustainable production and trade in agricultural and forestry products

The UK government will consider the taskforce’s findings and recommendations and respond at a later date after dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

SEI’s Chris West contributed as an expert adviser to the taskforce on issues of monitoring and reporting, in particular recommendations for a monitoring, measurement and reporting framework covering current and future commodity supply chain forest risk, impact and response.

About the GRI taskforce

The Global Resource Initiative was established by the UK Government in 2019. It draws on UK expertise to identify opportunities to galvanize wider international impact on nature and climate change. The Government convened a high-level taskforce, comprising representatives of business, finance and civil society, to review the challenges set out in the ambition of the GRI and develop recommendations for actions to address them.