What's in the news right now about environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable beef value chain.

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Executive Director's Message

At the end of August I wrote about the Amazon fires and quoted Dan Nepstad's blog to put the situation into perspective. We know more now about the extent of the fires in both Brazil and in neighbouring countries, and whatever we think of the media's hyperbole, we need to recognise that it has an impact on the general public's view of the beef industry in general, and some of our members in particular.

During our last board call we discussed the idea of making a statement on the subject. While we may wish to reference some of the facts around extent, I believe that we need to focus on concrete steps that are being taken by the beef industry as a whole to minimise its involvement in Amazon deforestation. We need to show our commitment to the protection of biodiversity, and point to examples of production increases that are taking place without the need for land clearing.

What I believe would also be very useful is to demonstrate how natural capital can be valued – when standing forest has a value that is equivalent to the alternatives, it's protection will become a more tenable proposition. The other angle that we need to present is how the fires are actually being fought on the ground – action, not words; what are our members doing to support organisations like Brigada Aliança who are firefighting every day? An in depth discussion of the root cause of fires, whether political or economic is not going to resonate with many people and is best avoided at this stage.
You may well have heard that H&M has taken the decision to stop sourcing leather from Brazil entirely. Divesting is one option that major players can take to minimise risk to their own brand. Naturally, it does nothing to stop the risk to the Amazon. Any company truly committed to protecting forest would invest rather than divesting, but it is a simple step, and for many companies, preferable to looking at the issue in depth and directing resources accordingly.

One move that could create a flow of investment into constructive projects in the region is an impact credit scheme. In short, this is a mechanism that allows buyers of beef or leather from a given region to invest in projects that support sustainable production – initially to bring producers into the scheme, and to support those who are already in it.

These credits already operate in other commodity chains , and have been useful in helping producers comply with national sustainability requirements, such as the forest code in Brazil. In the case of crops, credits work on a per weight basis, in the case of beef and leather it would make sense to base them per head. Such a system does not require end to end traceability, but does need a traceable supply chain from birth to slaughter.

The below stories relate to concrete projects and the means that can be used to support them financially.

Thanks,

Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director


Amazon Fires


This is action, not words – where there are fires, you need fire brigades to put them out. In the Brazilian Amazon, that is Brigada Aliança
Arsonists Are Torching the Amazon. This Elite Team of Firefighters Stands In Their Way.
Terrence McCoy, Washington Post | October 8, 2019
No one could stop the fire. It had burned for 10 days already, across 25 miles, when the rancher made the desperate call to the only person he thought could still help. "Let me ask a question," Edimar Santos Abreu responded. "The fire – is it happening in the forest?" "The forest!" the rancher said. Abreu, 45, put down the phone. Little forest remained in this corner of the Amazon basin in Mato Grosso state. What was once a blanket of continuous green foliage is now a checkerboard of arid and dusty farmland.

One of the only things keeping the last shards of forest here from getting torched and bulldozed into cattle and soy farms is Abreu's team of firefighters: the Alliance Brigade. Known locally as the "guerreiros de fogo" – the "fire warriors" – they spread across hundreds of miles each day to contain blazes lit by land grabbers trying to burn, claim and develop the forest.

This is an example of a jurisdiction (the state of California) using its resources to fund protection of natural resources in other countries.
California Just Approved the Tropical Forest Standard–What Happens Next?
Jonah Busch, PhD and Daniel Nepstad, PhD, Earth Innovation Institute | October 8, 2019
On September 19 the California Air Resources Board voted to endorse the California Tropical Forest Standard. That decision, following more than ten years of design, consultation, and debate, approves the set of rules that tropical states would need to follow in order to someday sell carbon credits from reducing emissions from deforestation into California's carbon market.

The Standard sets a high bar for environmental integrity to ensure credits benefit the climate, and requires participating jurisdictions to include Indigenous peoples and local communities in decision–making through a landmark set of Guiding Principles. Crucially, ARB's decision to approve the Standard doesn't allow offset sales yet; that would require another future decision.

The Standard has the potential to channel hundreds of millions of dollars toward protecting forests, supporting sustainable development and preventing climate change. For that potential to materialize, California should approve the state's international offset provision, monitor and oversee the use of the Standard, and explore complementary measures for reducing emissions from deforestation.

Tropical states and provinces should reduce deforestation, claim emission reductions, and offer them for sale. And other countries, states, and companies seeking carbon credits should make advance market commitments and partner with tropical jurisdictions to help them achieve the high bar set by the Standard.

This is an example of a jurisdictional approach to sustainable production, in this case in Mato Grosso, Brazil.
PCI Launches Resource for Companies to Join Local Projects Supporting Sustainable Development in Mato Grosso, Brazil
Fernando Sampaio,Linked in | May 8, 2019
Pitchbook projects have the potential to support the state's strategy to avoid six gigatons of emissions by 2030 while increasing livelihoods. At the Tropical Forest Alliance Annual Meeting, the Produce, Conserve and Include (PCI) initiative launched the PCI Pitchbook, a menu of ongoing sustainable development projects in Mato Grosso that are ripe for corporate engagement.

The PCI created the Pitchbook to serve companies that are looking for new ways to support their supply chain sustainability goals. Mato Grosso holds massive opportunity for these companies, as the state produces nearly 30% of Brazil's soy and has the largest cattle herd in Brazil.

This is an example of a credit trading scheme that has assisted producers to participate in sustainable palm oil production. A credit relating to cattle could work in a similar way.
What Are RSPO Credits?
An RSPO Credit is proof that one tonne of certified palm oil was produced by an RSPO–certified company or independent producer, and has entered the global palm oil supply chain. By purchasing Credits, buyers encourage the production of certified sustainable palm oil.

Earning RSPO Credits has led to recognition from the government and palm oil markets for the farmers' produce. Beyond realising the benefits of sustainable oil palm cultivation, however, smallholders also gained a new perspective on natural resource management as part of the bigger picture, moving them to declare two kilometres of rivers as sacred sites, thus protecting the areas from further degradation. For these farmers, it has been a fruitful journey from responsible agriculture, to taking full responsibility for caring for their environment by the hand of RSPO.

At the heart of deforestation is the conflict between development and biodiversity, and how these are valued differently by people in different situations. The hypocrisy of wealthy people in developed countries where natural resources are depleted and exploited telling less wealthy people that they may not do the same, and will not be compensated is central; think large funds that "have trillions of dollars under investment", but whose only action to preserve forests is to write letters.
How the EU, Greenpeace, and Celebrities Worsen Fires and Deforestation By Dehumanizing the Amazon
Michael Shellenberger, Forbes | August 28 2019
What we really need to worry about, scientists say, is all of the carbon stored by the Amazon. If it's released by fires in the form of carbon dioxide, they say, we won't keep global temperatures from rising two degrees centigrade above pre–industrial levels. But telling Brazilians that they must not cut down the Amazon because of its role storing carbon only strengthens the sense in which Europe's supposed concern with the Amazon and climate change are really a form of neo–colonialism. Now that Europe has developed through deforestation and fossil fuel use it is telling Brazil not to develop through deforestation and fossil fuel use.



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