People can only thrive if forests do, but ironically enough, in 2017, forests can only thrive when people do. The two are complementary and are completely co-dependent on one another.
This was the main crux of the conversation recently at this year's Innovation Forum gathering in my adopted home town of Washington DC. I was not only excited to be part of the enlightening discussion, but also that my company, Asia Pulp & Paper was a sponsor of this year's get-together.
Many company representatives attended - 3M, Starbucks, Target, McDonald's, Dunkin-Donuts and Mondelēz just to name a few. All with a unified front to share their latest best practices, case studies of success, and engagement with their respective supply chains and community's within each.
I discussed Asia Pulp & Paper's community-based approaches to protect our landscapes and reduce dependence on encroachment for fiber. APP has been deforestation free for several years, only deals with suppliers following our Forest Conservation Policy of zero deforestation and I also shared case studies of success within specific communities which have also gone 'Zero-D.' One of these examples included the local communities within Indonesia which now grow coffee and sell it to a coffee distribution company in Japan utilizing APP resources, transportation logistics, and packaging to make the progress work successfully.
I also shared how APP launched the Belantara Foundation, dedicated to protecting and restoring natural capital. The leadership is currently having active discussion with banks and investment houses on how to create financial mechanisms which would free up income and investment for on-the-ground programs to succeed in the long-term. There were many follow up questions, which was wonderful - that told me the curiosity was omnipresent and the actual investment tools not too far away in going from curiosity to development and implementation.
The key takeaway as we all headed back home was the very first thing I mentioned - forest and people co-exist because of one another – and without one, the other will perish.
Michael McManus is Asia Pulp & Paper's VP of government relations & stakeholder communications for North America.