The Accountability Framework completes two years and continues to drive actions for deforestation-free chains in the Amazon and Cerrado regions
A joint effort of several environmental and social organizations, such as Greenpeace International, Imaflora, Rainforest Alliance, WRI, TNC, CERES and WWF, to make agricultural and forestry production and supply chains free of social and environmental problems has just completed two years. The Accountability Framework is a set of principles, definitions and guidelines to help companies ensure they have ethical supply chains in agriculture and forestry.
In Brazil, the Instituto de Manejo e Certificação Florestal e Agrícola (Imaflora), one of the organizations that helped develop the Accountability Framework, used the tool to outline the criteria of two initiatives that have increased transparency and meet the main social and environmental commitments of both chains to curb deforestation in the Amazon and Cerrado regions: the Beef on Track and Soy on Track programs.
The Accountability Framework provides a clear and consistent way to make commitments, take action and track progress, on issues ranging from deforestation to human rights violations. For two years, the tool has been used worldwide by manufacturing companies, retailers and industries that are linked to the supply of agricultural and forestry products.
Currently, the main assessments of corporate performance on deforestation and related issues are aligned with the Accountability Framework. In 2020, more than 400 companies were assessed with methods based on the tool. By using the same framework, investors, customers, consumers and society in general can assess business commitments using the same criteria methodology.
Beef on Track and Soy on Track aim to underpin social and environmental commitments in the beef and soy production chain in the Amazon, and to encourage their implementation by bringing together members of the sector, retail and civil society organizations. Systems, tools, data and technical information can be accessed in the fully open online transparency platforms so that the beef and soy chains can be deforestation-free.
Monitoring and transparency
One of the first documents that was based on the guidelines of the Accountability Framework initiative (AFi) was the Benchmarks for Verification and Auditing of the beef and soybean chains, jointly created by non-governmental organisations, companies, monitoring suppliers and researchers that track the beef chain in Brazil. The documents, which provide the best practices to verify, through audits, compliance with the deforestation and zero conversion commitments of the beef and soy sector in the Amazon and Cerrado biomes, are aligned with the Operational Guide on Monitoring and Verification of the Accountability Framework, having been adapted to the Brazilian context.
The benchmark for auditing based on the Accountability Framework was the starting point for the deployment of the next Audit Protocol of the Term of Adjustment of Conduct (TAC) established with the Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPF) for beef processing plants operating in the Amazon, which will be launched in July 2021. "The most important correlations between the Verification and Audit Framework, the forthcoming TAC Audit Protocol and the Operational Guidance of the Accountability Framework are the issues of impartiality and independence", stated Isabel Garcia Drigo, Imaflora's Climate and Agricultural Chains Manager and member of the Beef on Track and Soy on Track programs. She explained that both documents emphasise the need for independent and well-trained auditors, who can ensure the neutrality of the company or organisation conducting the audit. Ensuring the competence of the organisation conducting the audits is also aligned with the Accountability Framework guidelines, as well as the importance that the non-compliances found are followed by effective improvement plans and remedial actions.
Another example of practical application of the Accountability Framework occurred in 2020, when the soy company Amaggi tested the benchmark for verification and audit of the initiative to verify its commitment to non-deforestation in the Cerrado region with a sample of its suppliers. The results showed that the benchmark was clear to the auditors as well as to the company.
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