Organisations eligible to join the Steering Group:

  • NGOs supporting and promoting the HCS Approach with growers and relevant stakeholders
  • Smallholder/farmer support organisations whose members are implementing the HCSA
  • Plantation companies implementing the HCS Approach in their operations or supply chains
  • Commodity users implementing the HCS Approach for commodities at risk of driving deforestation in their supply chains (maximum of 5 members)
  • Technical support organisations with expertise in HCS Approach implementation

Further sectors may be invited to join the Steering Group in the future.

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The Executive Committee is made up of representatives from the Steering Group and consists of:

  • Four plantation company representatives, reflecting the key commodities and geographical regions of plantation company HCSA Steering Group members
  • Four NGOs, covering environmental and social focus areas
  • Two smallholder/farmer groups or their support organisations
  • One commodity user company
  • One technical support organisation

The different sectors of the Steering Group will elect their representative(s) to the Executive Committee through either consensus (strongly preferred) or majority vote. Executive Committee members are obliged to represent their sector and, as needed, consult with other Steering Group members. Organisations are eligible for election to the Executive Committee after having been a member of the Steering Group for one year.

The Executive Committee makes decision by consensus, and is mandated to make decisions on all matters pertaining to the Steering Group, with the exception of changes to the HCS Approach methodology. Such changes must be presented to and approved by the full Steering Group, who will strive to approve such changes by consensus. Where the Steering Group is not able to reach consensus, the Executive Committee may make final decisions.

The Executive Committee elects two Co-chairs, one of whom must belong to the NGO category, and one of whom must be a plantation company or smallholder grower representative member. The Co-Chairs are mandated to speak on behalf of the Steering Group and are charged with developing meeting agendas and overseeing the Secretariat function. The Executive Committee, at its discretion, may appoint advisors or officers to the Executive Committee or sub-committees thereof.

A Science Advisory Committee ensures that the HCS Approach methodology is scientifically robust, firmly grounded in the latest scientific literature, and that the underlying scientific assumptions are subject to the standard peer-reviewed process. A detailed Terms of Reference has been approved by the Executive Committee, with the main scope of work defined as:

  • Periodical review of the scientific basis of the methodology, including identifying any gaps
  • Advice on particular aspects of the methodology that are under further development or refinement, including application in landscapes with high forest cover
  • Refinement of the methodology based on the latest peer-reviewed literature
  • Interaction with the working groups on methodology issues including field trials
  • Development of a process for updating the methodology as needed to reflect changes in advancements in scientific understanding

Working groups and Task Forces are established to lead on specific work-streams. These groups are responsible for working on defined topics in accordance with specific Terms of References approved by the Executive Committee.

A Consultative Forum is established to contribute to the work of the Steering Group. The Forum is open to parties with an interest in the HCS Approach including plantation companies with public commitments to implement the HCS Approach who are not yet eligible for representation on the Steering Group, as well as governments.

The Consultative Forum may be invited as observers to meetings and may contribute to the work streams and discussions of the HCS Approach Steering Group, but will not have a decision-making role in the Steering Group.

A secretariat function is established to support the work of the Steering Group and the Executive Committee.

The Secretariat reports to the Executive Committee and is responsible for:

  • Financial matters, including preparing draft budgets, keeping financial ledgers, invoicing member contributions and reimbursing approved expenses and costs
  • Meeting administration and minutes
  • Management of the consultative forum
  • Support the Co-Chairs in drafting meeting agendas
  • Development of public reporting on the work undertaken by the Steering Group
  • Responding to queries from members and external stakeholders

An annual budget will be determined by the Executive Committee. The Secretariat and working groups are funded through annual contributions from members. The HCS Approach Steering Group annual member contribution guidelines can be downloaded here.

The Executive Committee will seek funding from independent parties that support the vision of achieving no-deforestation. Due diligence will be performed to identify any potential conflicts of interests with potential funders.

Download the full Terms of Reference for the HCSA Steering Group.

For companies and organisations interested in membership of the HCSA Steering Group, a membership pack can be downloaded here.

The Steering Group and its legal entity HCS Ltd is committed to maintaining the highest standards of integrity and has adopted an Anti-bribery & Anti-corruption policy which is applied to all suppliers, contractors and commercial partners. This policy can be found here.