The HCS Approach in 2016: Milestones & Highlights

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: