Verité is active on many fronts to bring our labor rights experts together with those protecting the natural environment. We believe strongly that supply chain “sustainability” is best pursued holistically with the needs of people, communities, and ecosystems considered and approached in complementary ways. One significant effort has been our participation in the development of the Accountability Framework which is now celebrating its second anniversary. This set of principles, definitions, and guidance helps companies achieve ethical supply chains in forestry and agriculture linked to deforestation based on the wisdom and experience of leading civil society groups across multiple fields, from forest preservation to indigenous rights to labor/human rights.
The Framework reflects consensus of diverse environmental and social organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund, Rainforest Alliance, and SAI. Verité CEO Shawn MacDonald states, “Verité joined AFi’s Steering Group to seize the opportunity to directly integrate a labor rights perspective and approach into the leading global initiative on deforestation and agricultural sustainability commitments. AFi has genuine potential to scale its approach globally across many important sectors, such as palm oil, soy, timber, and cocoa, among others, and AFi takes seriously the need to redress the problem of traditional ‘sustainability’ groups unable to meet the need for more and better labor rights interventions in forest and agriculture supply chain due diligence work.”
Those now using the Framework to define common best practices include some of the biggest companies in the world, like McDonald’s and Nestlé, and 11 different industry groups, with memberships totaling thousands of companies. Many companies are using the Framework to align key indicators and clarify and simplify the way they disclose supply chain information. For example, in 2020, 687 companies disclosed supply chain risks, policies, and implementation processes through the newly Framework-aligned CDP forests questionnaire. Most major assessments of corporate performance on deforestation and related issues are now aligned with the Framework. This means that companies can use the Framework as a clear basis to improve their ratings.
Verité, along with other AFi coalition members, has contributed to the development of an Operational Guidance on Workers’ Rights, providing companies with further detail related to AFi’s Core Principle 2 on the protection of human rights. This guidance serves to support companies as they work to improve their policies, implementation and reporting systems to comprehensively address workers’ rights in agricultural supply chains. The guidance is being launched in August 2021.