Expanding Commercial Agriculture without Clearing Pristine Rainforest

Dec 24, 2014

RESOLVE’s Dr. Eric Dinerstein and colleagues at Woods Hole Research Center, World Wildlife Fund, and University of Minnesota have identified 125 million hectares (309 million acres) of degraded lands in the tropics that could support expansion of commercial agriculture for another 25-50 years without clearing more pristine rainforest.

In a paper published in the journal Conservation Letters, the researchers defined degraded rainforests as those with an above-ground carbon density (carbon stored in vegetation) of 40 or fewer metric tons per hectare. Intact rainforest has roughly 250 metric tons/ha.

This simple, transparent measure of carbon stock can be easily monitored using remote sensing technologies and could help agricultural producers, governments, investors, environmental stewards, and consumers to invest, plant, harvest, govern, and buy tropical agricultural commodities more responsibly.

Read more about the article, entitled “Guiding Agricultural Expansion to Spare Tropical Forests,” at Mongabay.com and view the full paper here.

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6th Sustainability Breakfast Features Technologies for Biodiversity and Wildlife Solutions

Nov 13, 2014

Last Thursday, RESOLVE hosted the sixth in our ongoing Sustainability Breakfast series. The event – “Eat a Bear Claw, Save an Elephant” – focused on the nexus of technology and wildlife biodiversity challenges.

RESOLVE intern Nathan Hahn kicked us off with a brief introduction to RESOLVE’s fleet of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) currently being tested for their potential to guide elephants away from farmers’ crops and people, an innovative strategy for mitigating human-elephant conflict in Tanzania . RESOLVE is currently training park rangers in Tanzania to use these UAVs – check back on our blog and Facebook page in the coming weeks for updates and photos from Nathan’s trip!

In another example of how technology is improving both the accessibility and the reliability of conservation data, Benji Jones, from the World Resource Institute (WRI), shared insights on WRI’s groundbreaking Global Forest Watch (GFW) program, which combines NASA satellite imagery, crowd sourcing, country statistics, and other sources to provide a free and comprehensive map and database of wildlife and natural resources around the world. This open-source database allows users to overlay and analyze data from a variety of sources and to contribute their own stories and validate on the ground the remotely-triggered alerts of forest loss from GFW. RESOLVE is proud to be one of Global Forest Watch’s 45 partners working on this exciting and unique tool with huge potential for biodiversity conservation.

RESOLVE’s Director of Biodiversity and Wildlife Solutions, Eric Dinerstein, elaborated on the some of the applications of GFW’s work to biodiversity conservation. Since the majority of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity lives in forested areas, the information generated through GFW can help us to pinpoint the critical areas for conservation action (such as corridors between tiger habitats) and monitor encroachment on protected areas. RESOLVE is using GFW maps to identify degraded lands that are suitable for rubber, oil palm, and other agricultural industries. Shifting production onto already degraded lands can reduce pressure on forested areas, which benefits biodiversity and reduces carbon emissions. Complementary work by BWS will use the information from this analysis to help identify areas with intact forests that also have high numbers of species and natural communities (mainly in the tropics), to provide both “Go” and “No-Go” zones for future commodity production.

Discussion and Q&A with participants in the room supported RESOLVE’s belief that solutions must be designed in consultation with representatives from all sectors, including conservationists, civil society, government, and industry – to understand constraints of each sector and design solutions that are practical and workable.

Find out more about how BWS is applying technology to wildlife and forest conservation by clicking here.

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Supply Chain Transparency + Resource Diplomacy

Sep 18, 2014

What can Tiffany, Apple, and Motorola Solutions do to create peace? They can partner with mining companies, governments, NGOs, refiners, and others to promote ethical supply chains that support peace and development. These partnerships are happening, and while they’re creating significant change, some fundamental challenges continue.

Ambassador Tim Martin (former Canadian Ambassador to Colombia and Chair of the Kimberley Process) and I just published an article in this month’s journal of the Alliance for Peacebuilding, Conflicts of the Future. The article – entitled Conflict Minerals, Ethical Supply Chains, and Peace - focuses on how supply chain initiatives have developed over the last 15 years. In our article, Tim and I discuss the last two decades of progress in sustainable sourcing of the minerals that appear in our smartphones, our jewelry, and other products. The article pulls lessons from the early days of the Kimberley Process, more recent initiatives like Solutions for Hope, and other efforts in between to highlight the importance of and continuing need for multi-sector “resource diplomacy” – interventions by public-private coalitions to support capacity building in regions impacted by conflict.

Read more about Tim’s thoughts on the need for resource diplomacy on his blog.

Find out what Intel is doing here. Check out this public-private partnership supporting responsible sourcing efforts. You can also read about Motorola Solutions’ contribution through closed supply chains in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Mike Loch’s article Taking the Conflict out of Conflict Minerals.

– Steve D’Esposito, President

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Video – Progress on Conflict Minerals

Jul 30, 2013

Five years ago, when Motorola Solutions and other tech companies started to work proactively to address the issue of so called “conflict minerals” – tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold – some said solutions like this were unrealistic or unlikely to have meaningful impacts.  The argument went something like this—“How can companies reach into their supply chains and have an impact in DRC when they don’t even know which minerals are in their components?”  Five years later, Motorola Solutions’ Corporate VP and Chief Procurement Officer Rich Valin is speaking about the positive impact efforts like Solutions for Hope have produced to encourage peace and development in the DRC.

RESOLVE hosts several other efforts working on this issue, including the Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade, the Conflict-Free Tin Initiative, and the Conflict Free Smelter Early Adopters Fund. Click here to learn more about RESOLVE’s early supply chain mapping research and resulting report.

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Certification Assessment releases final report

Jun 29, 2012

This week, RESOLVE completed a cornerstone project assessing the state-of-knowledge on the sustainability impact of natural resource certification. Over the past 2+ years, RESOLVE has recruited a multi-sector sector committee (of 12 executives/experts from business, NGOs, and academia), designed a complex collaborative research program, served as project Secretariat to the committee, and negotiated complex, challenging issues that surfaced as they examined what is known about the impacts of certification and how it is used by businesses, civil society, and governments. On behalf of the committee, RESOLVE just released a consensus report, Toward Sustainability; the press release details the findings of the report.

Led by Vice President of Program Development and Senior Mediator, Abby Dilley, the team also included Senior Mediator Jen Peyser and Senior Associate Taylor Kennedy, with guidance from President Steve D’Esposito. To give you a flavor our work on this project, the RESOLVE team:

  • Recruited the steering committee, with guidance from funders and on-coming members
  • Designed and facilitated a series of group dialogues, one-on-one consultations, and calls
  • Framed issues and organized complex, tough Steering Committee discussions so that the Committee reached key decisions and milestones
  • Prepared substantive reports and analysis to support the Steering Committee and commissioned supporting research
  • Oversaw and advised technical and policy experts to inform Steering Committee deliberations and decisions
  • Drafted and negotiated report language and policy alternatives
  • Designed and conducted a peer review process involving 30 reviewers, and compiling and synthesizing the feedback for anonymous presentation to the Steering Committee for consideration
  • Brokered a Steering Committee consensus
  • Coordinated outreach and distribution efforts throughout the development and release of the report to gather input from additional stakeholders
  • Oversaw and assisted final graphic production of a 400+ page final report

It’s been nice to get some very positive feedback, after a very challenging process:

  • The steering committee included this in the Acknowledgements section of the report: “Without the immense commitment of Abby Dilley, Jennifer Peyser, and Taylor Kennedy (RESOLVE) in facilitating this process and keeping us on track through our deliberations, we would not have been able to deliver this report.”
  • “Congratulations on shepherding this project through to completion.. it must have been a rather large task to coordinate. Well done. And thanks for facilitating what I’m sure will be an important contribution to the policy discussion on the future of certification.” – from a contributing researcher

 

 

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Voluntary Governance

Apr 4, 2012

Yesterday’s blog post on a new RESOLVE pilot project highlights one example of voluntary collaboration among businesses to develop tools for addressing urgent environmental and social challenges.

In this era of globalization, supply chain dynamics are complex and often opaque. The Conflict-Free Smelter Program, along with the Public Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals, and mineral mapping initiatives by the electronics industry aim to make supply chains more transparent, as well as environmentally and socially sustainable. These are just a few of RESOLVE’s projects supporting voluntary governance initiatives. We are also:

  • Helping to expand avenues for civil society engagement with the Climate Investment Funds, a joint initiative of five multilateral development banks housed at the World Bank
  • Advising extractives companies, civil society organizations, and agencies on best practices for stakeholder engagement and conflict resolution
  • Facilitating a state-of-knowledge assessment on the impact and performance of sustainability labels such as the Forest Stewardship Council, Marine Stewardship Council, Utz, and FairTrade.

To learn more about these projects and our other voluntary governance work, check out our website.

- Taylor Kennedy

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Paradigm Shift

Mar 2, 2011

Sustainability today requires something different: support for rapid innovation and collaborative leadership, safe space for risk taking, and partnerships formed across sectors.  This requires the design of new systems and tools that support a collaborative approach.  I call this Sustainability 3.0 and my keynote remarks at the 2011 SME Annual Meeting & Exhibit and CMA 113th National Western Mining Conference “Shaping a Strong Future Through Mining” explore progress and new challenges, for the mining industry, NGOs and society.  Take a look.

Stephen D’Esposito

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