In recent years WWF has focussed much attention on transforming the markets and supply chains of high demand commodities that generate some of the largest impacts on biodiversity, land use, water and local communities. The 2050 Criteria provide one of the first comprehensive guides for investors to become allies in ensuring that soft commodities such as sugarcane, palm oil, bioenergy, beef and seafood are developed sustainably.
“A critical success factor for achieving sustainability on Earth involves aligning financiers, producers, and buyers around credible certification and performance criteria for major agricultural, forest, and seafood commodities,” concludes WWF.
The report offers some sobering statistics about the state of the world’s resources as we head toward 2050. While population growth and expanding consumer bases accelerate demand for food, fuel and fibre products, unprecedented volatility and resource scarcity have also become the norm. The report estimates that over the next four decades humanity must produce more food than we have in the last 8,000 years of agriculture combined, yet unsustainable practices are undermining the planet’s ability to meet these needs. Agriculture, says WWF, is the world’s largest user of chemicals, the largest source of water pollution and is responsible for 85% of global deforestation.
The report distils the major social and environmental risks of producing the commodities we've become hungriest for, and outlines key performance criteria for minimising impacts on environment and society. For each commodity, WWF identifies the leading third-party certifications that best meet the performance criteria, in whole or in part – depending on the availability of effective and high-quality standards for each commodity.
Along with its focus on the content of a standard and the social and environmental practices it promotes, WWF also defines credibility in terms of ISEAL membership and compliance with the Codes of Good Practice, reinforcing the critical importance of factors such as transparency and multi-stakeholder process. The report provides a state-of-play in each commodity area, assessing how certification is evolving and the potential for effective, ISEAL-compliant standards to develop and transform supply chains.
While international consensus has emerged around the importance ESG (environmental, social and governance) risk monitoring and the unacceptability of financing deforestation, irresponsible fishing and destructive land change, the WWF finds that public compacts have not translated into concrete action in the financial sector. By aligning with credible standards and adopting them as part of their investment requirements or performance targets for companies and other players, financial institutions can play a leading role in affecting the sustainability of operations on the ground.
Says WWF’s Jason Clay, “the [owners and managers of global financial assets] hold influence over the actions of firms and markets... indeed, financial institutions must play an essential part in ensuring the long-term sustainability of our most basic markets—food, fuel, and fibre—for the billions who depend on them.”
As a novel and comprehensive guide for informing the decision making of investors, the 2050 Criteria illustrate the importance of the finance sector in helping to scale up the penetration and impact of certification in these crucial commodities.
To read the report and get more information about WWF's work in this area click here.