Companies are a primary user group for the Accountability Framework. In response to the need for clear and unified guidance on how to set, implement, and measure progress towards fulfillment of supply chain commitments, the Framework offers companies a well-defined “roadmap” to the ethical supply chain journey. By using the Framework, companies can help ensure that their commitments, activities, monitoring systems, and reporting practices reflect common and agreed-upon norms and specifications. This is an effective way for companies to achieve and be recognized for strong environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance by buyers, financiers/investors, civil society groups, consumers and other stakeholders.
Companies are encouraged to apply to the Framework when carrying out specific functions and activities related to each of the three stages of the ethical supply chain journey:
1. Set commitments
- Establish new supply chain commitments or review and refresh current commitments
- Apply common definitions, targets, and metrics to link company policy to accepted norms
- Specify key commitment details related to halting deforestation, protecting other natural ecosystems, and respecting human rights
2. Take action
- Establish effective company systems to implement commitments
- Assess risk and establish traceability
- Manage supplier compliance and improvement processes
- Responsibly establish new development and manage land to safeguard natural ecosystems and human rights
- Implement voluntary commitments while complying with relevant legal frameworks
- Engage in jurisdictional, landscape, and sectoral initiatives to help fulfill commitments and demonstrate compliance
- Provide remedy for past harms to natural ecosystems, people, or communities
3. Demonstrate progress
- Monitor and verify compliance and progress in credible and accepted ways
- Report progress and outcomes related to company commitments
- Make credible claims related to commitments
In addition to using the Framework themselves, companies may seek support from service providers to apply the Framework when designing and implementing company systems, processes, and functions related to the implementation of supply chain commitments. Industry associations and platforms may also use the Framework to help establish common guidelines, definitions, or conventions for their members so that sustainability considerations can be integrated into global supply chains more effectively and with lower transaction costs.
Use of the Framework can also help the finance sector (e.g., banks and investors) to institute responsible lending and investment practices and reduce ESG risk. Financial institutions (FIs) are encouraged to use the Framework to guide the establishment of their own commitments and to benchmark the commitments and performance of their borrowers and investees. The Framework is also helping to standardize the reporting and assessment of supply chain risk, commitments, implementation practices, and outcomes related to deforestation, conversion, and human rights so that FIs can access more reliable data to inform decision-making for responsible finance.
This work is being done in collaboration with leading tools and initiatives that provide data and guidance to inform responsible finance – including CDP Forests, SCRIPT, Ceres, and others – to support the ability of FIs to operate in accordance with the Accountability Framework.