Why feeding the planet doesn’t have to mean sacrificing our forests

UN News Forests 2018

Forest policies in Rwanda, United States and Gambia win UN-backed awards (UN, 2011)

This article is brought to you thanks to the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Fraser Thompson, Director, AlphaBeta

Between 2015 to 2025, around 750 million people are expected to move into cities worldwide, contributing to the burgeoning consuming class – and this urbanization in emerging economies like China, India, and Brazil will be the dominant driver of economic growth over the coming decade.

To illustrate, consumer spending as a share of China’s GDP is expected to surge from around 36% in in 2008 to 49% by 2030.

Similarly in India, the middle class doubled in size over an eight-year period from 300 million in 2004 to 600 million in 2012. This growth will also have an impact on the amount and type of food people consume. Developing economies – including China, India, other Asian countries and Africa – are projected to account for 35% of the future global increase in food demand, as population growth in these countries will coincide with a dietary shift towards more animal protein-based.

These trends, coupled with unsustainable agricultural production practices, could have an adverse environmental impact if left unchecked. This is especially the case for deforestation-linked commodities such as beef, soybean, and palm oil. At present, major emerging market importers (China and India) and market producer-consumers (Brazil and Indonesia) together account for up to 40% of global demand for some of these commodities. This share is expected to increase further by 2025.

AlphaBeta estimates that a ‘business-as-usual’ production scenario could lead to an increase in deforestation attributed to these countries from 855,000 hectares in 2015 to 990,000 hectares by 2025. To put this number into perspective, this is equivalent to an area the size of Jamaica – or almost 1 million football fields – being deforested annually .

Image: TFA2020: Emerging Market Consumers and Deforestation: Risks and Opportunities of growing demand

However, the increasing demand for forest commodities need not come at the cost of more deforestation if a conscientious effort is made to source sustainably. Focusing our attention on China – where the overall demand for deforestation-linked commodities is high – there is a range of actions which stakeholders can pursue to further promote sustainable sourcing. These findings were based on a workshop in Beijing conducted by AlphaBeta, the Paulson Institute and TFA2020 with several prominent members from international organizations, the private sector and government think-tanks.

First, participants highlighted the vital role of governments in developing guidelines and a definition of ‘sustainable sourcing’ to which businesses can refer. A promising initiative in this regard is China’s Timber Legality Verification System, which will regulate the legality of timber and timber products within the country. The system sets out requirements for regulating timber products at the forest management level and throughout the chain of custody.

Second, industry – particularly the financial sector – can play a vital role in developing more sophisticated risk models that take account of unsustainable sourcing approaches and provide incentives for more sustainable practices. There is also a clear need for the private sector to take the lead in establishing joint industry commitments related to sustainable sourcing. One such initiative is the Chinese Sustainable Meat Declaration, a commitment by the Chinese Meat Association and businesses to promote sustainable meat production, trade and consumption.

Finally, there is a clear role for civil society in helping to educate consumers about the importance of sustainability and to help importers build their capabilities around sustainable sourcing. For example, organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund have had a promising impact by using celebrities, like Chinese actress Fan Bingbing, to promote sustainability in pulp and paper in China.

Innovations in digital technologies could play an enabling role to support the efforts of various stakeholders. For example, blockchain technology could be used to track exported products, improving traceability and ensuring that the entire batch has been sourced from sustainable jurisdictions. Also, consumer insights via Internet of Things technology could help e-commerce companies engage in targeted messaging about specific deforestation products, thereby improving consumer awareness. Finally, precision-farming technology which accounts for the variability of soil attributes could boost production efficiency and reduce the need for more land.

Emerging economies play a vital role in ensuring sustainable supply chains. Together with various stakeholders from the private sector and non-governmental organizations, governments in these markets can shift to more sustainable approaches to consumption.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

‘No steps taken’ so far to end Israel’s illegal settlement activity on Palestinian land – UN envoy

COP21 Breaking News_03 December: Unprecedented Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction to Combat Climate Change

These are the world’s 20 most dynamic cities

Hazy ‘breakthrough’ saves PM May, leaves Ireland in limbo: Brexit

Discussion at Europe House: Brexit & Food

Youth2030: UN chief launches bold new strategy for young people ‘to lead’

EU-UK future relations: crucial to ensure EU leverage and unity

Why it’s good to turn your colleagues into friends

Why vaccines are not just for children

An all-out fight for the EU budget

Mental health and social isolation: how do have an active participation in self-care?

How scientists are turning living cells into the tiny factories of the future

UN atomic watchdog chief updates governing body on key North Korean reactor

Migrants and refugees are being forgotten in the COVID-19 response. This has to change

EU’s new environmental policy on biofuels impacts both the environment and the European citizen

International Day of Cooperatives sets stage for long-standing production and consumption

European Youth Forum welcomes establishment of new Youth Intergroup in the European Parliament

Eurozone slowly but surely builds its Banking Union

Is Britain to sail alone in the high seas of trade wars?

Africa-Europe Alliance: first projects kicked off just three months after launch

Obama turns the G20 summit into warmongering platform

OECD economic scenarios to 2060 illustrate the long-run benefits of structural reforms

Four years on and half a billion dollars later – Tax Inspectors Without Borders

COP21 Breaking News_03 December: Argentina Accepts KP Amendment

Rise in number of children killed, maimed and recruited in conflict: UN report

Europe to turn the Hamburg G20 Summit into a battlefield

Trade barriers are slowing plastic-pollution action. Here’s how to fix it

1 million citizens try to create a new EU institution

British PM May’s Brexit proposal remains obscure while her government unravels

Gender equality, justice in law and practice: Essential for sustainable development

We need to rethink cybersecurity for a post-pandemic world. Here’s how

North Korea: ‘Time to talk human rights’, says UN expert

With human rights under attack, UN chief unveils blueprint for positive change

A Sting Exclusive: “Cybersecurity Act for safer European Industries and Consumers against cyberthreats”, by MEP Niebler

Generation Z will outnumber Millennials by 2019

COP21 Breaking News_09 December: The Draft Agreement Updated

Elections in Britain may reserve a surprise for May’s Tories

The Czech economy is thriving but boosting skills and productivity and transitioning to a low-carbon productive model is vital to sustainable and inclusive growth

UN gears up emergency food aid for hurricane-struck region of Bahamas, as death toll rises

Is Eurozone heading for disinflation?

Humanitarian crisis in Yemen remains the worst in the world, warns UN

Fairer and clearer rules on social benefits for EU mobile workers agreed

Migration has set EU’s political clock ticking; the stagnating economy cannot help it and Turkey doesn’t cooperate

Why sustainable products are a win-win for all of us

Internet Forum: Prioritize technologies most needed for sustainable development

Why Eurozone urgently needs the ECB to print and distribute at least €500 billion

Health without borders: How we can Improve International Collaboration in Health Care

EU’s tougher privacy rules: WhatsApp and Facebook set to be soon aligned with telcos

Joint EU-U.S. statement following the EU-U.S. Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting

COP21 Paris: The Final Agreement Adopted-full text

Parliament criticises Council’s rejection of money laundering blacklist

Costa Rica has doubled its tropical rainforests in just a few decades. Here’s how

Franchise India 2016, returns in 14th year 

Who can unlock the stalled Brexit negotiations? UK Premier sticks to her proposal

Why South Africa is on a path of economic renewal

From Kenya to China, here’s why countries should start working together on AI

Who should be responsible for protecting our personal data?

How supply chain transparency can help businesses make the right calls

‘Well-being of two million’ in Gaza at stake as emergency fuel runs dry: UN humanitarian coordinator

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s