Governance and Participation Structure

The Accountability Framework is being developed through a participatory process involving a wide range of stakeholders. These include individuals and organizations involved in setting, implementing, monitoring, and tracking ethical supply chain commitments, and those who are supporting such actions through efforts of government, local communities, and others. This page describes the governance structure and participation mechanisms for the Accountability Framework initiative according to the roles of the different groups who are involved.

Steering Group: The Accountability Framework initiative is led by a diverse group of civil society organizations representing environmental and social issues from both global and producing country perspectives. These organizations comprise the Steering Group, which collectively takes decisions about the initiative’s strategic direction and reviews and approves draft and final elements of the Accountability Framework. Terms of reference for the Steering Group are available here.

The Accountability Framework is being co-developed, vetted and refined through technical work streams and stakeholder engagement involving several key sets of contributors:

  • Working Groups comprised of global experts, key stakeholders, and representatives of related initiatives are leading the development of specific components of the Framework. These groups are charged with conducting technical analysis to inform each element and with incorporating diverse stakeholder perspectives related to their purview. Please see below for more information about the Land Working Group and Monitoring & Verification Working Group  as well as the AFi’s work stream on reporting and assessment . Please contact us if you are interested in contributing to any of these topics.
  • The private sector is contributing actively to the co-design of the Framework through the public consultation process and other input channels. The AFi is engaging with both global and regionally-focused companies at all stages of the value chain (producers to retailers) as well as key industry associations addressing ethical supply chains.
  • Stakeholders from tropical commodity-producing regions are participating in the process through regional engagement processes in South America, Central and West Africa, and Southeast Asia. These processes aim to build awareness about the AFi, provide opportunities for input on draft Framework elements, and foster dialogue about how the AFi can best support efforts to address key social and environmental risks in each context, in concert with other national and regional initiatives. Please visit the events page to view upcoming AFi-related events in tropical producing regions.
  • Other interested stakeholders are invited to learn more about the AFi through this webpage and participation in the public consultation process. Please join us if you would like to get more deeply involved.

The AFi Backbone Teamco-hosted by Rainforest Alliance and the Meridian Institute, provides technical support and process facilitation for the AFi, at the direction of the Steering Group.

Land Working Group

The AFi Land Working Group is leading the development of the Framework’s elements on the protection of forests, natural ecosystems, and land rights. This Working Group was convened in July 2017 and represents diverse perspectives from approximately 20 global and national NGOs, service providers, researchers, and implementation partners involved in supporting ethical supply chains. This group’s work is defined by a Terms of Reference and organized around the following topics:

  • Harmonized definitions for key terms and concepts referenced in supply chain commitments (e.g., forests and deforestation), linked with contextualized definitions for different regions, biomes, or commodities.
  • Common monitoring parameters and thresholds for assessing key land-related outcomes (e.g., deforestation).
  • Definitions, normative references, and implementation guidance for commitments related to land rights, Free, Prior and Informed Consent, and related social commitments.
  • Implementation of company commitments in the context of intact and high forest cover landscapes.
  • Long-term protection and management of lands designated for no conversion, considering both ecological values and the interests of rights-holding indigenous peoples and local communities.
  • Remedy, remediation and/or compensation for past violations of land-related environmental or social commitments.
  • Implementation of land-related commitments in the context of smallholders.
  • Reconciliation of supply chain commitments with state governance systems in practice, considering aspects such as legal compliance, land governance, and company participation in jurisdictional programs.

Draft material on some of the preceding topics has been released in July 2018, while draft material on the remaining topics is expected to be released later in 2018.

Monitoring & Verification

The AFi Monitoring & Verification (M&V) Working Group is leading the development of Framework’s elements on monitoring and verification. The Monitoring & Verification Working Group was convened in November 2017 and includes experts in a range of M&V systems and approaches, representing more than a dozen organizations from around the world. The M&V Working Group’s purview is defined by a Terms of Reference and organized around several sub-topics including:

  • Elements of credible verification, including sampling frameworks, level of audit intensity, qualifications and experience of assessment teams, independence, and transparency regarding the verification scope, indicators, process, and results
  • Norms and guidance on risk-based approaches to M&V
  • Methods for evaluating risk, detecting non-compliances, and assessing performance
  • Incorporation of relevant information from local stakeholders and affected persons (e.g., workers, smallholders, and indigenous communities) in risk assessment and assurance processes
  • Use of different types of control systems (e.g., certification, jurisdictional M&V, and trader control systems) to fulfill M&V obligations
  • Data provision and data transparency by supply chain actors to inform credible M&V processes
  • Formulation of claims in relation to M&V processes and outcomes

To develop scalable M&V norms and guidelines that build from existing experience and good practices, the M&V content development process is being conducted in close consultation with experts and stakeholders from different assurance and risk assessment communities of practice, including the certification community, risk assessment experts and tools, commercial auditing firms, certification bodies and verification service providers, and others. If you would like to contribute to this process, please contact us.

Reporting & Assessment

The Accountability Framework draft Core Principles call for companies to publicly report progress and outcomes related to the implementation of commitments on a regular basis. This reporting can be made easier for companies and more helpful for users of such reporting to the extent it is based on common and consistent definitions, data sources, metrics, and systems for sharing information along supply chains. Similarly, efforts to compare or aggregate progress and outcomes across companies, supply chains, and regions are greatly facilitated by common reporting and assessment approaches. Greater alignment helps increase accountability and support decision-making in favor of deforestation-free and ethical supply chains.

In addition to elaborating good-practice guidelines for supply chain reporting and disclosure, the AFi’s Reporting & Assessment component is working with partners such as Supply Change, CDP Forests, Climate Focus, Global Forest Watch, Global Canopy, and the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020  to better align monitoring and reporting systems around common and meaningful progress metrics. As this happens, companies can benefit from clearer expectations and streamlined reporting obligations. And the world’s forests benefit from better data and stronger accountability that can foster a race to the top for deforestation-free supply chains and jurisdictions.

If you would like to contribute to the AFi’s Reporting & Assessment efforts, please contact us.