Toby Webb meets with Abigail Herron, global head of responsible investment at Aviva Investors, and Clara Melot, SPOTT engagement and impacts manager at ZSL, to discuss how palm oil is rising up the investor agenda in 2018, and how a new guide for investors can be used to engage palm oil companies. Click here to download the new guide https://www.spott.org/news/sustainable-palm-oil-responsible-investment/

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Stephen Brunner, global key relation manager, Bayer explains to Innovation Forum’s Ian Welsh the importance of business partnerships for developing more-sustainable sugar supply. He stresses the importance of product stewardship in lessening environmental impacts and on workers in sugar’s value chain. Brunner also argues the case for working with smallholder and medium-sized farms to develop processes of continuous improvement, and why it’s vital the gains from certification offset the additional costs.

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Companies find themselves having to engage with emerging human rights legislation and how it affect their business.

In this podcast, Laura Okkonen, head of human rights at Nokia, explains to Ian Welsh her company’s strategy on human rights, and how to be effective when planning an approach to tackling a variety of regulation. She highlights the development and implementation of the UN guiding principles on business and human rights as a key changing point, and an effective tool that business can use to identify best practice.

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Top down regulation pressure and a groundswell of litigation is increasing the pressure on companies to do more human rights.

The legal landscapes for businesses regarding human rights are in flux. In this podcast, Michael Quayle, London-based associate at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and Innovation Forum’s Ian Welsh discuss how legislation is driving this change, but why companies also need to consider growing litigation risks and complaints to OECD national contact points.

Quayle outlines the more rigorous reporting requirements that companies are facing. New regulation in France, Australia and elsewhere means that companies are increasingly legally required to not only say more but, importantly, now do more about human rights as well. They discuss why companies are now being held accountable if they don’t properly work towards achieving what they have said they will do.

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While it’s no magic wand, developing blockchains can help supply chain transparency and companies meet no-deforestation targets.

In this podcast Jessica Verhagen, vice-president, business development and strategy, Ecosphere+, talks with Innovation Forum’s Ian Welsh about blockchain and how it can help implement corporate policies on deforestation and develop more sustainable supply chains.

Verhagen explains why, with the processes of transparency and consensus built in, blockchain can maintain transparency and ensure that all stages of the value chain benefit correctly from transactions. She explains why getting the right checks and balances into a blockchain can ensure security for all parties, including around commodity certification, and how blockchain can develop the carbon credits market.

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In this podcast, Glenn Hurowitz, CEO of Mighty Earth, talks with Innovation Forum’s Ian Welsh about his organisation’s work on trying to break the links between agriculture and deforestation.

They discuss the potential for success for the new soy manifesto in South American grasslands – and why soy sourcing has become a key risk for the international beef sector. The rubber sector is a new area of focus for Mighty Earth – Hurowitz argues that as the rubber sector companies have seen the reputational damage that palm oil sector has suffered in the past few years there is potential for NGO pressure to move the sector forward and engage on its deforestation risks. He also says that the recently announced deal on cocoa in west Africa could be a real game-changer for the sector as it brings all the relevant actors together.

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Cutting use of plastic requires smarter design and increasing circularity in waste management processes. 

In this podcast with Ian Welsh, Caroline Reid, project manager strategic sustainable development, Ikea, outlines the company’s plastic use and targets to reduce this. She explains the drivers behind them, including a very-aware customer base and strong momentum from the company’s corporate culture.

Reid argues the case for better recycling and waste management processes that make things easier for consumers to help business develop more closed loop processes for plastic and other materials. She says that prolonging product life is a core way to cut resource use, and their design is key to achieving this, such as making products modular so they can be added to or adapted over time.

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Emerging technology can help companies monitor their supply chains and track deforestation commitments better. But there is now so much data available, how can companies make sense of it all?

In this podcast, Niels Wielaard, managing director of remote sensing tech firm Satelligence, talks with Innovation Forum’s Ian Welsh about how to get the right insights from satellite image data and identify the landscape changes that are relevant.

Once a company can, for example, identify where on a concession there is oil palm being grown or cocoa trees, and where the protected forests are, it can be much more certain of the deforestation risks in its supply chain. Technology can also link social issues to deforestation through analysis of geo-tagged social media. Looking forward, Wielaard argues that business should focus efforts more on smarter use of existing datasets than looking for evermore data itself.

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While we are starting to get the right frameworks in place on business and human rights, better enforcement of existing legislation would be a good place to start.

Global Witness CEO Gillian Caldwell outlines to Ian Welsh some of her top global trends on business and human rights. She points out instances where business goes along too easily with restrictions on freedom of speech and repression by governments, but highlights a clear movement from consumers expecting brands and companies to be properly engaging on human rights.

She also argues that there is a wider realisation for companies that as they have made human rights a C-suite concern it is an area where best practice has business wide positive benefits.

They discuss the importance of a fast yet fair transition to a low carbon economy. Caldwell stresses that it’s those who have contributed least to climate change who will be impacted most. But, there are risks involved in the transition, not least in that so man of the necessary minerals for low-carbon innovation, such as leading-edge battery technology, are sourced from countries and regions with significant human rights challenges.

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Business responds well to clarity, simplicity and consistency, and these three things are not hallmarks of plastics recycling and pollution prevention policy in many countries. Various approaches have been trialled by various governments and regional authorities to tackle plastics pollution, without much success.

In this podcast Delphine Lévi Alvarès, European coordinator of the #BreakFreeFromPlastic movement, Zero Waste EuropeZero Waste Europe talks to Innovation Forum’s Ian Welsh about how the different piecemeal pieces of legislation can best be effective. They discuss when levies, such as the UK’s 5p plastic bag charge, can be effective, or when banning certain products in some circumstances are is the right way to go. Alvarès argues that consumers have lost a sense of value in plastics and legislation, with business support, can help bring this back.

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