In a series of events in June, including during the Amsterdam Declarations Partnerships week, the Accountability Framework initiative (AFi) was officially launched. The AFi aims to support companies in how to operationalize supply chain sustainability commitments along with a common approach to monitoring, verifying and reporting on the progress and outcomes.
The AFi is not a new standard, but a set of norms, definitions, and guidelines that helps clarify what good practices are in agriculture and forestry supply chains.
To reflect the collective experience of companies, NGOs, governments, and other stakeholders, the AFi was developed by a coalition of more than ten environmental and social NGOs informed by an open consultation process. By applying the framework, diverse supply chain actors can use the same terms, norms, and metrics to reach their sustainability goals.
A common understanding
Many companies worldwide have made commitments to stop deforestation, preserve natural ecosystems, and protect human rights within their supply chains. However, the variety of standards, systems, definitions and metrics for only a single commodity makes it difficult to measure whether a company has fulfilled its commitment. On top of this, for products linked to more than one commodity, supply chain, or region, it becomes more challenging to define and implement the best practices.
The Accountability Framework Initiative responds to these challenges by providing consistent measures of progress across commodities, regions, and supply chain positions. Thus, the AFi can help companies demonstrate their progress in their sustainability commitments in a clear and credible way. Moreover, it brings coherence between the private sector, governments, NGOs, and other actors. In this way, soy producers in South America, cocoa growers in West Africa, and multinational retailers can use the same frame of reference to define, implement and monitor their sustainability policies. This adds to more consistency, clarity and transparency.
What it means for your business
It is important to note that the Accountability Framework Initiative is not a new certification standard or auditing tool. Rather, it helps companies use existing tools, such as certification, and provides guidance on topics which lack clarity. In other words, the AFi synthesizes best practices and common approaches, including certification, to help companies measure and meet their commitments. Therefore, the AFi recognizes Rainforest Alliance and UTZ certification among the effective tools to promote sustainability in supply chain sectors. But to make your entire business more sustainable, the AFi also defines the best practices for commodities for which there is no certification program available and provides an on-ramp for volumes that have not yet been certified.
To support transparency and credibility – important to the reputation of a company – the AFi also advises common elements for reporting that are applicable across all commodities and geographies. The AFi clarifies how to conduct such an evaluation and demonstrate progress credibly. It also provides a framework to indicate what your company has already achieved through certification and what is needed to fulfil commitments.
The Rainforest Alliance will continue to effectively support partner companies along their sustainability journey, with added firepower from our 2018 merger with UTZ and the development of a new standard to launch next year. To this end, we will ensure that our existing certification and the AFi are efficient complementary tools.