The organizers of a new mapping project claim that it will be the first to evaluate the leather industry’s supply chain and its impacts on deforestation.
The initiative, which is a cooperation between the National Wildlife Federation, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Leather Working Group (LWG), and the University of Wisconsin-Gibbs Madison's Land Use and Environment Lab (GLUE), will address deforestation and its ties to the leather supply chain.
The organization is unified in its goal of assisting the leather industry in achieving deforestation- and conversion-free (DCF) supply chains by assisting companies in transitioning to DCF leather supply chains by strengthening and expanding on current commitments. The partnership will also help organizations engage their supply chain partners in order to establish a shared vision, such as making time-bound pledges that are linked with the Accountability Framework initiative (AFi) and following through with concrete implementation.
Simon Hall, director of the Tropical Forests and Agriculture program at the National Wildlife Federation, said that they’re dealing with two crises: a climate crisis and a biodiversity problem, with deforestation at the heart of both. Implementing deforestation-free production and sourcing practices is a critical part of the solution, and achieving this goal will require collective action from companies up and down the value chain.
The Gibbs Land Use and Environment Lab team will use their knowledge and experience to map and analyze the most recent data on deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, Cerrado, and Paraguayan Chaco. The larger group will next construct a framework to help stakeholders interpret the mapped data for use with the due diligence assessment tool that LWG will develop for deforestation risk management.
Through the LWG Leather Manufacturer Audit and stakeholder involvement, LWG hopes to promote traceability and transparency in the leather supply chain. Through the due diligence processes required as part of the LWG Audit, the LWG is aiming toward full deforestation and conversion-free (DCF) leather supply chains. P7, LWG's most recent audit procedure, has tightened standards for skins and hides originating from deforestation-prone areas. As LWG builds its traceability roadmap, these are part of the incremental needs that will be implemented.
Christina Trautmann, program manager for the LWG, said that the Leather Working Group is dedicated to assisting its members in understanding and addressing deforestation in the leather supply chain. It's critical that they do this in a way that is inclusive and delivers accurate data and tools to drive positive change.
Trautmann added that by prioritizing their traceability work and collaborating with expert partners like the National Wildlife Federation and the World Wildlife Fund, the LWG is paving a route for the leather sector to respond to the rallying call of the climate catastrophe.
The project will serve as the foundation for a gap analysis, allowing enterprises to align with LWG's roadmap with specific targets and activities in order to meet their DCF commitments' goals. The LWG is now working on a traceability roadmap, which it hopes to release in early 2022.
This initiative strives to increase transparency in the places under consideration, and it serves as an open invitation to all stakeholders, from brands to leather manufacturers to meatpackers, to work together more on collective solutions that might help ensure deforestation-free leather sourcing.
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