The complexity and opacity of global supply chains have traditionally made it difficult to systematically address sustainability issues in mainstream markets – including deforestation, sustainable livelihoods, child labour and land grabbing.
In recent years, however, there has been a proliferation of transparency instruments – including:
- online databases
- traceability platforms
- interactive maps
- independent local monitoring initiatives
This explosion of data and analyses is improving our collective ability to manage sustainability risks in commodity supply chains, albeit with great disparities in data access and quality. But availability of information alone is not enough. Many actors are overwhelmed with information or remain unable to seize the opportunities that it can provide.
Increasingly, the most significant challenge is making data useful for specific policy purposes, based on shared understanding of trusted information. To realise the transformative promise of supply chain transparency, it is essential to have shared understanding and trust, built though a structured multi-stakeholder process.
A novel approach is needed: one that leverages transparency at both ends of major agricultural commodity supply chains, and that can turn policy aspirations into pragmatic measures to decouple deforestation and trade.