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Updated guidance from the AFi fosters continued consensus and alignment about definitions

27 July 2023

By Akiva Fishman, Director, Nature-based Solutions, Forests, WWF; Joseph Osei, Director, Resourcetrust Network Ghana; and Jeff Milder, Director, Accountability Framework initiative

Updates to the Accountability Framework further clarify how to apply definitions of deforestation and conversion across different contexts.

As representatives of the Accountability Framework initiative (AFi) Coalition, we are pleased to release an updated version of the Accountability Framework’s Operational Guidance on Applying the Definitions Related to Deforestation and Conversion.

Comprised of diverse civil society organisations from around the world, the AFi Coalition is dedicated to achieving ethical supply chains that protect forests, other natural ecosystems, and human rights. Since first publishing the Accountability Framework in 2019, the AFi has continued to drive alignment and consensus to enable effective and coordinated action on commodity-linked deforestation and conversion.

This updated Operational Guidance document explains how to apply the definitions of deforestation and conversion in different contexts. It enables Framework users to navigate the nuances of different field settings while following a globally standardised and comparable approach. For instance, the guidance addresses the application of definitions in scenarios such as mixed vegetation types, agroforestry, and other diversified farming systems.

The guidance also explains how the Framework’s definitions relate to definitions in the EU deforestation regulation (EUDR) and similar legislation in the UK and US. Using the Framework as a roadmap, companies can make progress towards achieving ethical supply chains and prepare for compliance with emerging legislation.

The AFi calls for companies with agricultural and forestry supply chains to address conversion of both natural forests and other types of natural ecosystems. To help companies achieve these goals, the guidance provides additional explanation and pointers on applying a no-deforestation and no-conversion approach in practice and across different contexts, commodities, and countries.

Further, the Operational Guidance explains the alignment between the Framework’s definitions and key target-setting and monitoring initiatives for climate and nature. These include the Science-Based Targets initiative Forest, Land, and Agriculture (SBTi FLAG) Guidance, the Science-Based Targets Network (SBTN) No Conversion of Natural Ecosystems Guidance, and the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

Additionally, the AFi has updated references within the guidance to explain the relationship between the Framework’s definitions and other responsible supply chain initiatives, such as the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) Forest Positive Coalition Commodity Roadmaps.

The updates provide companies and other Framework users with the most up-to-date information and clarity on how to define, implement, and monitor deforestation- and conversion-free supply chains. The updated Operational Guidance also fosters continued consensus and alignment about definitions, which helps companies and responsible supply chain initiatives to move in a more coordinated and effective manner.

In making these updates, we drew upon user feedback and consultations since the Framework was first published. This included engagement with companies, industry and multi-stakeholder initiatives, reporting and assessment initiatives, and others. The updates reflect the consensus of the entire AFi Coalition.

The Operational Guidance on Applying the Definitions Related to Deforestation and Conversion and other Framework documents are available for download here. Please find a summary of the changes to the guidance here.

Download the guidance

About Resourcetrust Network

Resourcetrust Network is a knowledge and practice not-for profit non-Governmental organisation supporting sustainability in the forest and agriculture sectors. We envision a world of dignified human life because business and government practices as well as consumer choices put human and the life of our planet at the centre. We lead actions in sustainable natural resources management practices, focusing on resource regeneration, implementation of best environmental and social practices in agriculture and forestry productive systems and their supply chains for biodiversity conservation, livelihood and climate resilience. Our work is focused Smallholder Production systems and their supply chains, capacity building and action research as well as supporting accountability. We work with governments and the private sector and engage in local and international collaboration within our mission, from practice to policy.

About WWF

For more than 60 years, WWF has been protecting the future of nature. The world’s leading conservation organization, WWF works in 100 countries and is supported by more than 1.3 million members in the United States and close to 5 million globally. WWF's unique way of working combines global reach with a foundation in science, involves action at every level from local to global, and ensures the delivery of innovative solutions that meet the needs of both people and nature.

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