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The case for accelerated action to address climate change and sustainably manage ecosystems and natural resources is increasingly self-evident. Sustainable land use could provide up to one third of the greenhouse gas mitigation required by 2030, whilst at the same time feeding growing global populations and supporting local jobs and communities in the UK and abroad.
The government’s 25 Year Environment Plan and Clean Growth Strategy lay out the challenges and opportunities for the UK: to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it, and for economic growth, development and environmental protection to go hand in hand. Rising to this challenge will include addressing the impacts of our domestic activities abroad.
The ambition of the Global Resource Initiative (GRI) is to establish the UK as a leader on supply chain sustainability. It seeks to ensure that the UK’s global commodity supply chain footprint on land, natural resources and ecosystems is sustainable, avoids deforestation and other environmental degradation, and supports jobs, livelihoods and investment in resilient and sustainable food systems. It will draw on UK expertise to identify opportunities to galvanise wider international impact on nature and climate change.
The GRI presents an opportunity to transform our approach to sustainable land use and to shape the direction of travel for the UK while creating a model for change that inspires other countries. It will contribute to the delivery of the UK’s international commitments on climate and biodiversity, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals. Key forthcoming events, including the UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit in September 2019, the Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of the Parties (CoP) and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change CoP (both late 2020), and the UK’s G7 Presidency in 2021, offer opportunities to showcase UK leadership on the international stage, and to inform and actively shape the international sustainability agenda.
1.2 Addressing the challenge
Government is convening a high-level Taskforce of 15-20 senior representatives from the private sector and civil society, with a cross-section of experience from different sectors of the economy, to review the challenges set out in the ambition of the GRI and come forward with recommendations for actions to address them.
The Taskforce will be established in 2019, will aim to meet three times with support from additional working groups where appropriate, and will report back to government within 6-9 months, including to inform UK engagement at the UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit.
The Taskforce will prepare and publish a report with ambitious and practical recommendations for how key sectors and stakeholders, including government, can best achieve the systemic and transformative change necessary to deliver the GRI ambition.
2.1 Objective and considerations
1) The objective of the Taskforce is to review the ambition of the GRI, consider the underlying challenges, make feasible recommendations for actions to address the impacts of the UK’s global commodity supply chain footprint, and inform and actively shape the international agenda.
2) In doing this the Taskforce should:
i. identify specific measures and policy proposals across a prioritised range of commodities with which to address the UK’s imported deforestation and wider environmental footprint;
ii. consider the means by which action can be achieved by different business sectors and through a range of interventions that could include regulatory measures, greater transparency, financial incentives, trade, sustainable procurement and the role of the consumer; and consider the potential for partnerships involving the private sector (including finance), government and civil society to deliver this action;
iii. make proposals for scaling up UK action to secure broader international leverage on nature and climate and establishing UK leadership on the international stage through key partnerships and events over the course of the next few years;
iv. inform understanding of the UK’s global environmental footprint and support work to define and measure a global footprint target;
v. where appropriate, ensure the recommendations align with and build upon existing activities, and operates in consultation with the Green Finance Taskforce, Council for Sustainable Business, Global Commission for Adaptation and other relevant entities, and
vi. ensure the recommendations are within scope of the GRI’s ambition and are achievable and measurable.
3) The Taskforce’s recommendations may be taken forward for wider consultation to inform future delivery by government and other actors.
4) The Taskforce will be voluntary and have a core membership of 15-20 and will be a representative and diverse group. It will include:
i. an independent Chair
ii. representatives from:
the private sector including the financial sector
the whole value chain involved in key commodity areas relevant to the UK’s global commodity supply chain footprint
5) In order to assist the Taskforce, input may be sought from wider stakeholder partners to provide additional experience and expertise, undertake additional research and/or attend working group meetings.
2.3 Roles and responsibilities of Taskforce members
6) Members of the Taskforce will be expected to:
i. attend meetings, contribute ideas, experience, expertise, and resource as considered appropriate, and gather views from colleagues in respective industries;
ii. deliver a report to government with jointly agreed recommendations for actions to address the GRI’s ambition;
iii. recommend or source appropriate experts to inform certain aspects of the report, convene working groups as appropriate and consult with sector peers as agreed within the Taskforce under the direction of the Chair, and
iv. take decisions remotely as and when required between meetings.
7) Meetings will be led by the Chair, with inputs from members. The Chair will set out an appropriate agenda, help facilitate discussions with the support of the Secretariat, and provide progress updates and a final report to Ministers.
8) Where the Taskforce convenes working groups, it should set out the terms of reference for the working group to guide its objectives, ways of working, handling of information and the rules on external communication.
2.4 Roles and responsibilities of the Secretariat
9) A Secretariat will be provided to:
i. organise and facilitate Taskforce meetings;
ii. provide preparatory reading or briefing to members;
iii. provide necessary administrative or technical resources;
iv. take and circulate minutes of meetings to Taskforce members and officials;
v. communicate progress and actions as directed;
vi. support the Chair in providing regular updates on the progress of the Taskforce to Ministers, and
vii. support the drafting of the final report with direction from the Chair, for agreement by the Taskforce.
10) The Secretariat will include Efeca, a natural resources consultancy, in addition to representatives from Defra, DfID and BEIS and other government departments where relevant (for example DIT, Treasury, FCO).
11) Any work or conversation within the Taskforce should be treated as not for wider circulation outside the Taskforce unless otherwise agreed by the Taskforce.
2.6 Frequency and life of Taskforce
12) The initial expectation is for the Taskforce to hold three meetings:
i. An initial meeting which could include agreement on governance, discussions on the ambition, and an initial consideration of areas for recommendations of actions, identifying additional inputs, research or working groups needed to inform and refine the measures. Participants may be tasked to gather inputs from a wide range of industry peers in support of the actions agreed at the meeting.
ii. A meeting to report back on the findings of Taskforce participants, and to begin to develop recommendations of actions, with inputs from any working group or experts.
iii. A final meeting to agree the overall recommendations and findings.
iv. Further meetings may be held at discretion of the Chair with agreement from the Taskforce and government.
13) The Taskforce will consider the appropriate time between meetings. The Taskforce will want to ensure that members have enough time to collect further information and develop ideas (such as through working groups or additional research), as well as to be in a position to inform the UK’s engagement at key fora such as the UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit.
14) The Taskforce (or a sub-set of which) may be requested to convene at appropriate intervals (maximum twice a year) to perform an on-going role under the GRI, to:
i. monitor and review progress against the recommendations taken forward from the Taskforce’s report; and
ii. make recommendations on the continuing suitability of the GRI’s ambition and need for revisions to the recommendations