Today, a new and unified global methodology for protecting natural forests and identifying lands for responsible commodity production was released by a coalition of industry and Non-Governmental Organisations. The High Carbon Stock (HCS) Approach Toolkit represents a breakthrough for companies, communities, institutions, and technical practitioners that have a shared commitment to protecting regenerating and secondary forests that provide essential carbon storage, habitat for biodiversity and livelihoods for local communities.
“Allowing deforestation for plantations is a thing of the past. Today, we have released an open-sourced toolkit that provides a practical, and scientifically robust technical guide to identify and protect tropical forests,” said Grant Rosoman, the Co-Chair of the High Carbon Stock Approach Steering Group.
The first version of the HCS Approach Toolkit was released in April 2015. The revised version released today has incorporated the latest scientific research, feedback from on-the-ground trials as well as new topics and inputs from working groups of the HCS Approach Steering Group, a multi-stakeholder membership organisation that governs the HCS Approach. The new toolkit also presents refinements, additions and important changes to the methodology, as a result of the ‘Convergence Agreement’ between HCS Approach and HCS+ Study in November 2016. With the completion of the HCS Approach Toolkit Version 2.0, the High Carbon Stock Approach Steering Group will now focus on piloting and trialing its adapted methodology for smallholders and farmers and strengthened social requirements that were developed as part of the HCS convergence process.
The HCS Approach Toolkit Version 2.0 is available here.
On 20 February 2017, British bank HSBC announced the release of their revised Agricultural Commodities Policy. HSBC has strengthened their policy for palm oil by expanding their prohibited businesses commitment, making it consistent with ‘No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation’ (NDPE) policies, which are increasingly being adopted by leading companies in the palm oil sector. The policy has now also been extended to refiners and traders.
The revision of the policy is considered a significant step in demonstrating commitment to breaking ties to destructive palm oil companies. HSBC customers will not only need to make a public commitment to protect high carbon stock (HCS) forests and peat areas by the end of June 2017, but will also be required to produce evidence of the independent verification of these commitments by the end of December 2018. While the policy does not specify a methodology for the implementation of HCS protection commitments, reference is made to the HCS Convergence Agreement of November 2016, and the common methodology defined in the agreement.
The HCS Approach Steering Group hopes that other banks and finance institutions will follow HSBC’s lead in revising their policies in support of HCS forest protection.
The official statement on the release and the revised policy is available on the HSBC website here.
Last year was marked by a number of significant events for the High Carbon Stock (HCS) Approach, characterised by progressive cross-collaborations between the HCS Approach Steering Group, various stakeholders, and other organisations and initiatives. Now at the start of a new year, we are pleased to present below the highlights and milestones for 2016, and thank all members, supporters and contributors for taking part in the efforts behind all of last year’s achievements. A more detailed update on the HCS Approach Steering Group’s latest activities can be found in the December issue of the HCS Approach Newsletter.
November 2016 celebrated a turning point for all stakeholders that have been pushing for or setting “no deforestation” commitments. Following 12 months of intensive work, the HCS Convergence Working Group announced on the 8th of November in Bangkok during the 14th Annual Roundtable Conference on Sustainable Palm Oil (RT14) that they have reached agreement on convergence between the HCSA and HCS+ methodologies. The Convergence Agreement means that moving forward, there will be one methodology for putting ‘no deforestation’ into practice. The official agreement can be accessed here.
In March 2016, the Steering Group announced the commencement of the first revision of the HCS Approach Methodology and Toolkit since its public release in 2015. In the months that followed, the revision process was in full swing with consultations taking place at various points to collect feedback on version one of the Toolkit, and to obtain input on the proposals for the revised or additional content in version two. Consultations have involved the participation of key stakeholders such as commodity companies, the scientific community, and practitioners implementing the HCS Approach. Most notably, the fundamental elements agreed from the HCS Convergence process will be reflected in the revised Toolkit, which is expected to be completed in early 2017.
Another important milestone is the agreement on collaboration between the HCV Resource Network and the HCS Approach Steering Group that took place in April 2016. Recognising the potential for significant efficiency gains for companies, communities and practitioners alike, both groups agreed on steps towards integrating the governance and quality assurance of the HCV and HCS approaches. The subsequent work in 2016 has focused on specifically mapping out how these goals and steps will be achieved, preparations for merging the quality assurance processes, and developing integrated guidance on how to conduct joint HCV-HCS assessments in a range of situations (led by the HCV Resource Network). Further information on the agreement for collaboration can be found here.
We are also excited to share that the HCS Approach is gaining some initial ground in Africa, through events, trainings and initiatives facilitated by external platforms such as the Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) 2020, as well as through our members. A major milestone took place on 16 November when seven African Governments signed the TFA 2020 Marrakesh Declaration for the Sustainable Development of the Oil Palm Sector in Africa at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP22) in Morocco. Through the declaration, these Governments have agreed to place sustainability, human rights and collaboration with industry, indigenous peoples and civil society groups at the centre of the expanding palm oil industry in Africa. This also includes committing to adopt locally-adapted tools such as the HCV and HCS concepts. A press statement and the declaration are available here.
Steering Group members have attended and presented at a number of events this year, helping to disseminate information on the approach and its use. At COP22 in Marrakech, the Steering Group facilitated the session ‘Innovative Approach for Sustainable Conservation’ within the Indonesian Pavilion. Hosted by Aida Greenbury as Co-Chair of the HCS Approach Steering Group, speakers at the event represented government, NGOs and the private sector; including Dr. Hadi Daryanto, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, and Stewart Maginnis, IUCN. Further details on the session can be found here. The presentation slides can be downloaded here.
Through the various work streams, HCS Approach Steering Group members and supporting observer organisations have continued to drive the uptake of the approach, support the goals of the Steering Group and address any difficult or new issues that may need to be considered for the implementation and adaptability of the methodology. We have provided updates for the various work streams throughout the year in the HCS Approach Newsletter. All issues, including the December 2016 issue, can be accessed here.
Should you have any questions regarding the 2016 activities of the HCS Approach Steering Group, please do not hesitate to contact the Secretariat at: email@example.com
Following a year of intensive work, the HCS Convergence Working Group announced in Bangkok today that they have reached agreement on convergence between the HCSA and HCS+ approaches. The Group has agreed on a single, coherent set of principles for implementation of companies’ commitments to “no deforestation” in their palm oil operations and supply chains. The members of the Group worked together constructively to develop recommendations that provide a roadmap forward for addressing the issues that remain in a collaborative and integrated way.
The agreement outlines:
Fundamental elements of the converged methodology that protects HCS forests, HCV areas and peatlands, including forest stratification and decision-making in “young regenerating forest” within fragmented landscapes, the role of carbon and robust implementation of FPIC and other social requirements;
The intention for functional and institutional integration of HCS with the HCV Resource Network; and
A roadmap for resolving outstanding issues through a collaborative process.
The recommendations will be incorporated into the revised HCSA Toolkit and the members of the Group are committed to further the implementation of these recommendations and to address the important remaining issues through their engagement in the HCSA Steering Group. In addition, the agreement will be reflected in the policies and positions of the organisations endorsing this agreement and the revised HCSA toolkit will be implemented by the companies when it is issued in early 2017.
Organisations reaching agreement are:
Forest Peoples Programme
IOI Corporation Berhad
Rainforest Action Network
Union of Concerned Scientists
This agreement has also been received and endorsed by Executive Committee of the HCSA. The full agreement is available for download here.
Second Consultation Period 30 September – 30 October: Please Give your Feedback
Earlier this year, it was announced that the High Carbon Stock (HCS) Approach Steering Group would be commencing the first revision of the HCS Approach Methodology and Toolkit since its public release in 2015. As part of the first phase of the revision process, key stakeholders, such as commodity companies and practitioners implementing the HCS Approach, were consulted on their experience with the Toolkit and Methodology. Members of the scientific community were engaged in the process via the HCS Approach Scientific Advisory Committee, and all stakeholders were invited to provide feedback through a public consultation and a workshop that was held in March.
Following a second consultation workshop held last week on the 20th of September in Singapore, and further to the HCSA/HCS+ convergence agreed key elements, a selected set of new chapters for version 2.0 are now open for public consultation. The drafts of these chapters can be downloaded below:
The Steering Group invites any interested parties and relevant stakeholders to contribute to the HCS Approach Methodology & Toolkit Version 2.0 by reviewing the above selected chapters and providing feedback/comments in the survey form below. The consultation is open starting from the 30th of September, and will close on the 30th of October, 2016.
NOTE: We strongly recommend that you read the chapters you wish to review, and note down your feedback prior to commencing the survey. Due to restrictions, it is not possible to start the survey and complete it at a later point. However, if you have submitted a survey response and wish to edit your response, this is possible via a link on the form submission confirmation page.
Should you have any questions regarding the new chapters and/or the public consultation, please do not hesitate to contact the Secretariat at: firstname.lastname@example.org
More information on the timeline of the toolkit methodology and revision process can be found here.
The HCS Approach Toolkit Version 1.0 is available here.
The HCS Approach Steering Group would like to congratulate Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK) for being the first company to complete the HCS Approach Steering Group Quality Review Process. Last week, the Summary Report and Peer Review report for the HCS assessment conducted for KLK’s Palm Bay Estate in Liberia was released on the HCSA website.
The Quality Review Process is intended for all HCS assessments completed by members of the Steering Group, but also welcomes any assessment submissions by non-members who request review. The review process does not require third-party certification, however, companies must engage trained practitioners to conduct the HCS assessment and submit the assessment to a small Peer Review panel. The Peer Review panel’s feedback is then published alongside a summary of the assessment and any additional company comments, so that stakeholders can enter into a dialogue with companies about the results.
Since the launch of the Quality Review Process in November 2015, eleven HCS assessments have been submitted. One has been reviewed, and the results released. One is undergoing Peer Review, and the others will undergo the review process once the assessments are in their final stages of implementation.
The HCS Approach Steering Group is pleased to announce that the next HCS Approach Practitioner Training is scheduled to take place next month in Jakarta on the 26th-28th of July. The three-day in-person session will be the second training to be held in Bahasa Indonesia, and the second practitioner training to be held in 2016.
The objective of the training is to provide guidance to assessors on the implementation of the HCS Approach assessment process and toolkit. The training is a critical part of the HCS Approach Quality Review Process, and assessors are required to attend at least one training in order to be registered as an approved HCS Approach Practitioner.
This is not a general introduction to the HCS Approach, but rather a three-day technical training for professionals who intend to eventually lead HCS assessments and oversee the image and forest patch analysis components of HCS assessments. Plantation company staff are welcome if they expect to be deeply involved in the technical side of HCS assessments, for instance satellite image analysis or the overall integration of HCS, HCV, community lands, and other areas into the land use plan.
How to Register
Please find the registration form together with further information on the training here. Any inquiries and/or registration forms may be submitted to the HCS Approach Secretariat at: QA@highcarbonstock.org.
As commitments to the implementation of the High Carbon Stock (HCS) Approach methodology continue to grow across different regions, the HCS Approach Steering Group is seeking to accommodate the demand for the availability of the Toolkit in various languages. The Steering Group is pleased to announce that the Toolkit is now available for download in Spanish and Portuguese.
The Bahasa Indonesia Toolkit was released in 2015, and the French version of the Toolkit will be launched in the coming weeks.
To download the Toolkit in Bahasa Indonesia, Spanish, and Portuguese, please click here.
On March 29, 2016, the HCS Convergence Working Group met in Singapore to commit to goals, process, and a high-level work plan for 2016. This meeting followed up on a first session in October 2015. The HCS Convergence Working Group consists of members of the High Carbon Stock Approach Executive Committee and additional companies that participated in development of the HCS+ methodology.
Members of the HCS Convergence Working Group confirmed their commitment to working together to develop a single, coherent set of rules for implementation of companies’ commitments to “no deforestation” in their palm oil operations and supply chains. The Group reviewed the results of a desk study that provided a first look at how these two methodologies compare on the ground. The Group then agreed to a process and high-level work plan with the following goals for 2016:
Consensus on the fundamental elements of an HCS methodology, including forest thresholds and below-ground carbon, decision-making in “young regenerating forest,” and social safeguards;
A pathway for institutional integration of HCS with existing systems, with appropriate governance; and
A roadmap for resolving outstanding issues through collaborative process and, as needed, field trials, including:
– Approaches to estimating and managing the overall
carbon impacts of land-use decisions;
– Rules for applying HCS methodology in high forest regions;
– Application of HCS methodology to small producers; and
– Assuring protection of HCS lands and other set-asides.
The HCS Convergence Working Group agreed to meet two more times in 2016, likely in June or July and in November. Prior to the next meeting, a subset of the group will advance recommendations related to socio-economic elements of the HCS methodology. A second subset of of the group will develop analyses and options for addressing the key outstanding issues and will develop a plan for field trials. Members of the HCS Convergence Working Group also committed to participating actively in the working groups established under the HCSA Steering Group. These groups are addressing issues of common concern such as how to approach integration of HCS with systems for identifying High Conservation Value (HCV), and for assuring the Free Prior Informed Consent of local communities (FPIC), and how to incorporate into the HCS methodology high forest cover regions, smallholders, and ongoing protection of lands set aside for conservation.
The Executive Committee of the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) Steering Group and representatives from the Management Committee of the High Conservation Value Resource Network (HCVRN) met in Singapore on Friday the 1st of April, 2016 to discuss next steps with regards to joint quality assurance of HCV and HCS assessments, a future joint HCV-HCS assessment manual and the potential for a shared institutional home for the HCS and HCV approaches.
Recognising the potential for significant efficiency gains for companies, communities and practitioners alike in integrating the governance and quality assurance of the HCV and HCS approaches, both groups agreed to:
a) From April 2016 to January 2017, develop common procedures to evaluate the quality of HCV and HCS assessment reports, including joint HCV-HCS reports. Procedures will be developed and implemented under the umbrella of the existing HCV Assessor Licensing Scheme and will build on the interim peer review procedure and transparency requirements developed by the HCS Approach Quality Assurance working group, which was launched in December 2015.
b) In the short-term, both parties agreed to develop integrated guidance on how to conduct joint HCV-HCS assessments in a range of situations, including with smallholders, at landscape level, and high forest cover regions, building on the work of the HCS Approach HCV-HCS-FPIC Integration working group, the HCS Approach toolkit, the Common Guidance for HCV Identification, Management and Monitoring, the HCV Assessment Manual, and the HCSA and HCS+ convergence process that is currently underway.
c) In the medium-term, both groups will work towards joint governance of the HCV and HCS approaches and encourage broader uptake of HCV-HCS guidance and quality assurance mechanisms by stakeholders such as certification schemes and companies committed to deforestation-free production and sourcing.