- Sustainability technology company Vizzuality has published an open-source data set that can help companies evaluate how much their products are contributing to ecological degradation and accelerating climate change.
- The data set is also available through LandGriffon, an environmental risk management software.
- The software maps supply chains and calculates the impacts of several environmental indicators, including deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, loss of natural ecosystems, and biodiversity loss resulting from agricultural production.
A new collection of global maps and data sets aims to help companies better monitor their environmental impact along every step of the supply chain, and forecast future impacts as their businesses grow.
Sustainability technology company Vizzuality published an open-source data set with the goal to help companies evaluate how much their products are contributing to ecological degradation and accelerating climate change. The data set has the potential to help them clean up their supply chains and meet international environmental standards.
“If we want to solve the climate and nature crisis, everyone needs to be able to access knowledge on the impact of business on nature,” said Vizzuality strategy and impact lead Francis Gassert. “We want to make it as easy as possible for companies to act today, and to inspire others to do the same.”
The data set is open source, so anyone can download and integrate it into their business operations, Gassert said. It’s also available through LandGriffon, an environmental risk management software.
The software maps supply chains and calculates the impacts of several environmental indicators, including deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, loss of natural ecosystems, and biodiversity loss resulting from agricultural production, among others. Vizzuality wanted to make the data as comprehensive as possible so companies could monitor their supply chains from top to bottom, something that has so far been a challenge.
Gassert said interest so far has come from sustainability advisers, academics and researchers, as well as consulting firms already monitoring the environmental impact of supply chains. This product should make their job easier, he said.
Numerous industries have come under increasing pressure to monitor their suppliers as countries look for ways to meet the 30×30 initiative goals to protect 30% of Earth’s land and water by 2030. The EU this year passed a law requiring companies to carry out due diligence on imports of commodities contributing to legal and illegal deforestation. However, a report from Global Canopy found most companies still aren’t doing enough: Hundreds of companies and financial institutions have yet to establish a single policy to monitor their supply chains.
Research institutions have found, in some cases, that this may be because they don’t have enough information. High-impact commodities like beef, leather, cocoa, palm oil, timber, rubber, soy and coffee are difficult to trace to the source due to a lack of oversight and reporting on transactions between local suppliers and distributors.
“As the risk of noncompliance with legislation in the EU and the U.K. grows, and with deforestation continuing globally, companies urgently need to start implementing their commitments throughout their supply chains,” Emma Thomson, Forest 500 and tracking lead at Global Canopy, told Mongabay. “Although there are various tools available to companies to monitor deforestation in their supply chains, including credible certification schemes, these are often not applicable to all commodities.”
She added, “New and improved technologies are something companies can utilize to inform and improve the monitoring, and implementation, of their commitments on deforestation and conversion.”
LandGriffon creates environmental impact estimates when companies aren’t sure where all their raw materials come from. They just need to plug in what materials they use and an approximate location of the materials’ source, and then the software uses spatial data sets and purchase history to create the estimate.
The software relies on high-resolution geospatial data from Global Forest Watch, the World Resources Institute, Impact Observatory and Conservation International, among other mapping initiatives. These also allow the software to model potential future impacts.
Gassert said many companies, even those with less-controversial products, might be surprised to see the carbon emissions, deforestation and ecological degradation that their products contribute to.
“Once companies start to look at the entirety of their supply chain, they might realize that a huge amount of their nature impact comes from things that they didn’t realize,” he told Mongabay.
Banner image: Bow Lake in Banff, Canada. Photo credit: Rhett A. Butler.
Editor’s note: Mongabay has funding relationships with Vizzuality and the World Resources Institute. Mongabay maintains complete editorial independence, and neither institution has editorial input on Mongabay content.
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