HCSA announced as a Top Innovator Winner of the Tropical Forest Commodities Challenge at COP 26

Today at COP26’s Nature Pavilion, the HCSA was announced as one of the five Top Innovation winners of the Tropical Forest Commodities Challenge by Lord Zac Goldsmith, the U.K.’s Minister of Environment, in recognition of HCSA’s efforts to halt tropical deforestation and accelerate inclusive integrated conservation land-use practices.

Tropical rainforests are staggeringly productive reservoirs of life and biodiversity, and their protection is a critical nature-based solution that will contribute real progress toward limiting global warming to 1.5°C.  One of the main drivers of tropical deforestation, and a consequential contribution to climate change, biodiversity loss, adverse livelihood impacts, is agricultural and plantation expansion. The HCSA is the most widely recognised and credible method being used to address deforestation in agricultural and plantation expansion in the tropics.

To take action to stop commodity-driven deforestation and scale nature positive land-use practices, under the UK Government UNCOP26 Presidency’s FACT (Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade) Dialogue initiative,[i] the Tropical Forest Commodities Challenge was launched and supported the World Economic Forum’s Uplink Innovation Network, the Tropical Forest Alliance, and other supporting partners.[ii]  The Tropical Forest Commodities Challenge was seeking breakthrough scalable solutions to deliver benefits to the global environment, while also ensuring sustainable livelihoods for stakeholders and systematic change to shift commodity-supply chains to responsible land use production that protects rather than clears High Carbon Stock forests and High Conservation Value areas.  

As a Top Innovator winner, HCSA effectively demonstrated that it has made progress, which can be further scaled and accelerated, against all the Challenge’s focus areas: market transformation; smallholder success; research and innovation; and traceability and transparency. [iii]

The HCSA’s mission is to end commodity-driven tropical deforestation by providing land managers with practical, credible, and inclusive tools for land use planning. It is a Toolkit that uses remoting sensing data and ground surveys to distinguish forest areas for protection from degraded lands that may be developed whilst ensuring that the rights and livelihoods of communities and workers are respected.  It can be used for integrated land use planning in any country and commodity grown in tropical moist forest landscapes. The HCSA is innovating its methodology for application by independent smallholders and will soon publish a procedure for producing high-quality indicative HCSA-HCV maps at a landscape level. The HCSA Toolkit has been used or trialled in 12 countries for plantations of oil palm, pulpwood, cocoa, and rubber and is recognised as a Nature-based Solution to climate change by the UN.

As a winner of the Challenge, the HCSA has been invited to join the UpLink Innovation Network of the World Economic Forum’s four-month Top Innovator Programme.[iv] This programme will facilitate profiling and networking opportunities to support the scaling of the implementation of HCSA along with the other challenge winners.  HCSA’s is excited to engage in the Top Innovator Programme and forge new collaborations and support to achieve its goal of conserving five million hectares of tropical forest by 2025 and realise the vision where natural forests linked to commodity production and consumption are conserved and restored throughout the tropics in cooperation with indigenous peoples and local communities.


[i] The FACT dialogue initiative is co-chaired by the UK and Indonesian government, with support from the Tropical Forest Alliance, to accelerate the transition towards more sustainable land-use practices around agriculture.
[ii] The Tropical Forest Commodities Challenge initiative is led by the Tropical Forest Alliance and Uplink, FACT DialogueUN Climate Change Conference UK 2021, run in partnership with supporting partners: Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationRoundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)Stockholm Environment InstituteWAIKWilmar.
[iii] The HCSA addresses the Tropical Commodities Challenge four focus areas in the following ways:
1. Market Transformation
The HCSA is widely used by market actors to demonstrate implementation of their No Deforestation commitments; it is enabling methodology for supporting responsible business practices/products that contribute to long-term tropical forest protection.
2. Smallholder Success
To support access for independent smallholders and communities to conserve High Carbon Stock forests and High Conservation Values areas in tropical forests, the HCSA is developing and trialling ‘A Simplified HCS-HCV Approach for Smallholders’.
3.Transparency & Traceability
The HCSA Toolkit is open access but requires registration of planned HCSA assessments and working with accredited practitioners. HCSA assessment conservation and community use outcomes are reported via publicly available and independently reviewed stand-alone HCSA or HCV-HCSA assessments.
4. Research & Innovation
The HCSA’s methodology is based on the best available science and was field-tested to ensure it was practical. HCSA continues to work with research institutes to trial innovations for large-scale mapping of HCS forests and HCV areas.
[iv] HCSA has been invited to join the UpLink Innovation Network of the World Economic Forum and will be recognized as a Top Innovator. The Top Innovator Programme seeks to:
• Maximize the visibility of your venture by providing public exposure via the World Economic Forum and UpLink digital media channels.  
• Offer global exposure and access to select World Economic Forum and partner events.
• Offer facilitated introductions to World Economic Forum and UpLink networks of partners, experts, and investors.  
• Give one year access to the World Economic Forum’s digital collaboration and knowledge platform, TopLink.