28.02.2014 |
Ian L.
GreenBiz Forum: From Conflict to Collaboration

I attended the GreenBiz Forum this month in Phoenix, Arizona where APP’s Managing Director of Sustainability, Aida Greenbury participated in a keynote panel with Scott Poynton, Executive Director of The Forest Trust (TFT) and Rolf Skar, Forest Campaign Director for Greenpeace. In front of a full audience and live-streaming camera, the panel explored APP’s transformative relationship with various NGOs and a myriad of other stakeholders.

As the conversation unfolded, I was reminded of just how complex and long our journey toward achieving zero deforestation has been in my four years with APP. Aida explained that although APP’s Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) was launched one year ago, its evolution actually began long before that. A tremendous amount of time and work went into starting a dialogue with a host of activists, advocates, and customers in order to develop a sustainability strategy that we could successfully and rapidly implement on the ground.

With the help of TFT, APP was able to forge a more constructive dialogue with all concerned parties. For the scale of operational change to which APP was committing, one must engage the counsel and support of local communities, landholders, the government, customers, and third parties that can monitor APP’s progress. For example, TFT visited nearly 400 communities to catalogue their concerns and identify High Conservation Value land to be protected, while APP engaged its 80,000 employees in wholesale process and cultural change to ensure the successful implementation of the FCP across the entire APP supply chain.

Great systems planning with multi-stakeholder input has informed this process with a few key takeaways that emerged from the GreenBiz panel:

  • Don’t just engage with NGOs, invite them into the boardroom. Give NGOs a seat at the table to hear the challenges and invite their counsel and feedback on these issues.
  • Be prepared to engage multiple partners and advisers. There is no silver bullet approach. Large companies like APP require multiple partners with varied expertise to enable us to optimize integrative planning for our operations, from field to customer.
  • Invest in fully understanding the systemic impacts to the entire supply chain. TFT’s Scott Poynton aptly said, “Change is painful,” indicating that the process is massive, requiring full commitment.


Success in stopping and reversing deforestation and addressing climate change will require change across many industries, including our own. With the help of our partners, collaborators, constructive critics, and customers holding us and others accountable, we are moving in the right direction. To keep moving forward, we must now rally the support of brands with supply chain power as well as international governments to continue encouraging the tireless efforts of employees within companies, like APP, to accelerate all of us towards our sustainability targets.

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