About the Accountability Framework
The Accountability Framework initiative is a collaborative effort to establish common definitions, norms, and good practices for delivering on companies’ ethical supply chain commitments. The framework will fill in vital detail that is missing from high‐level pledges, while helping to align a multitude of other efforts to implement commitments, foster transparency, and track progress. The framework is being developed by a coalition of leading environmental and social NGOs in consultation with private companies, government, and other stakeholders.
In recent years, growing public concern over climate change, biodiversity loss, environmental degradation, and human exploitation has elevated corporate responsibility to an urgent imperative. Hundreds of forward-thinking business leaders have pledged to transform their agriculture and forestry production systems and supply chains to protect ecosystems, people, and communities. These commitments support important global initiatives, including the Paris Climate Agreement, the New York Declaration on Forests, and the Bonn Challenge for landscape restoration.
Yet companies seeking to honor their commitments are often unclear about the path forward, despite the recent proliferation of tools and initiatives intended to help. In this context, two major obstacles impede progress:
The imperative for a clear and consensus-based accountability framework is already evident: as target dates for 2020 commitments approach, many companies have not met interim milestones; they are reporting only on activities, not results; and they are facing large implementation challenges. Unless NGOs, business leaders, and other stakeholders work together to develop a common framework that is credible yet practical, the result is likely to be greenwashing in lieu of broad progress, widespread displacement of impacts, and continuing social and environmental risk for companies.
To support the effective implementation of corporate commitments, the Accountability Framework initiative is developing a common set of norms and guidelines for companies and other stakeholders working to eliminate ecosystem destruction and human exploitation from commodity supply chains. These norms are being developed by a coalition of respected conservation and human rights NGOs from around the world, in close consultation with the private sector, to establish a harmonized global reference that is applicable across commodities and regions.
As the Accountability Framework develops, elements will be integrated into various monitoring tools, platforms, regional initiatives, and services that support responsible production and sourcing. By creating an umbrella of harmonized norms, the framework will enhance the credibility and legitimacy of other tools to address social and environmental risk in supply chains. It will also help companies better navigate and utilize these tools across disparate commodities and geographies in support of their global sustainability goals. Finally, it will enable the tracking and management of progress at larger national or subnational scales, or relative to global pledges such as the New York Declaration on Forests.
As 2020 commitment deadlines approach, the Accountability Framework will help accelerate the maturation and standardization of implementation efforts by companies, service providers, government, and civil society. By 2020 and beyond, widespread application of credible, flexible, yet globally consistent approaches will catalyze a sharp decline in commodity-linked ecosystem destruction and human exploitation. The result will be demonstrable progress toward the fulfillment of key global sustainability targets.
The Accountability Framework will define a clear pathway for responsible action on the ground and across supply chains by developing a set of consensus-based implementation norms.
What’s in the framework
- Common definitions of key terms and concepts related to forests and natural ecosystems, deforestation, restoration, community rights, and others
- Guiding principles for good practice related to supply chain mapping, monitoring, verification, reporting, claims, and other aspects
- Specific operational guidance on these topics
- Guidelines for addressing currently undefined or ambiguous scenarios related to the implementation of commitments
How the framework is being developed
- Working groups consisting of key stakeholders and experts are being convened to develop Framework elements on forests and ecosystems, social accountability, verification, and reporting and disclosure.
- Regional liaisons are informing and involving stakeholders in key tropical producing regions: South America, Africa, and southeast Asia.
- Other interested stakeholders are invited to contribute to the framework development through consultations and review of draft framework elements.
- Company input will help ensure that the framework is fit-for-purpose, with clear and practical implementation norms.
How the framework will be used
- The framework’s common norms will be incorporated into a range of monitoring tools, platforms, regional initiatives, and implementation efforts by companies and their service providers. These include initiatives such as Global Forest Watch, the High Carbon Stock approach, and the Collaboration on Forests and Agriculture in South America.
- The framework will be localized and adapted to specific commodities and regions; this avoids the need to build systems from ground-up and facilitates harmonization.
- Implementation tools and initiatives can benchmark against the framework; this offers companies a single clear reference for supply chain management and can help enhance the credibility and legitimacy of effective implementation systems.
- Clear and comparable reporting data, based on Accountability Framework guidance, will inform more accurate reporting of progress at the level of companies, national and sub-national jurisdictions, and global targets.
Our Theory of Change
The aim of the Accountability Framework initiative is to protect ecosystems and improve the wellbeing of people and communities in commodity-producing landscapes. These impacts will be realized through the fulfillment of supply chain commitments by the year 2020 and beyond.