Scoping Ground Truthing Opportunities

‘Ground Truthing’ refers to the use of information that relates to the actual situation on the ground, gathered from primary or secondary sources that are independent of supply chain actors as opposed to paper-based compliance indicators or the self-reporting of supply chain actors.


Terms of ReferenceScoping how community-based monitoring data might influence investor/buyer behaviour in forest-risk commodity supply chains with a specific focus on land-related conflict

To be carried out between 14 Jul and 14 Oct 2019


Background: why is this piece of work required?

The Problem

  • The problem on the ground is that communities at the tropical forest frontier face significant threats to their life and lands with limited ability for them to make their grievances be known to those who are connected to the far end of complex supply chains and related foreign investment flows;
  • When forest communities suffer human rights abuses or illegal activities on their territories, this information is not visible to buyers and investors at the far end of global supply chains who might be best placed to influence company behaviour;
  • Investors and buyers risk failing on their ESG commitments and exposing themselves to significant reputational risk.
  • Financial sector analysts TMP Systems, found that companies ignoring pre-existing or customary local land rights in their acquisition process experienced financial damage ranging from operating costs increased by as much as 29 times to outright abandonment of operations.
  • Buyers and investors are often reliant on paper-based compliance and information generated by actors with vested interests when conducting due diligence rather than data related to the actual situation on the ground. These tend to severely overstate the levels of corporate compliance/responsibility according to checklists and disregard independent information on supply chain risks (some of which is in the public domain).

The Opportunity

  • Communities are a significant potential source of information and some are increasingly using a range of community-based monitoring tools collecting evidence of abuses on the ground (ODK/Kobo, Mapeo, TIMBY, etc.)
  • There is an increasing ability to show the link between specific mills, concessions and companies as well as the ownership of those companies back to holding companies. This means that investors have greater visibility down previously opaque ownership structures and supply chains.
  • Development of indices of corporate responsibility and other companies offering data analytics (e.g. SPOTT) that have the potential to integrate information from communities; this could give a more realistic picture to investors/buyers who can then exert financial or purchasing leverage down the supply chain.
  • Investors could have better-informed discussions in their engagements at the top of the governance chain, creating a virtuous circle that crosses the information gap.


Overall purpose

  • Scoping: To explore (i) what additional potential third party information sources investors, company due diligence teams or consultants could use to assist and strengthen the accuracy and reliability of their risk assessments, including documented  and digital materials, and (ii) whether, and in what form, information from communities and civil society would be valuable for investors and buyers and how communities can raise their concerns further up supply chains, to the mutual benefit of all actors in the supply and financing chain.

This will involve coordination with a linked consultancy on gap analysis of current approaches to going beyond paper-compliance in investor/buyer due diligence relating to forest-risk commodity supply chains



Literature review/web search on existing initiatives
Semi-structured interviews with

  • Investment houses, data aggregators and independent research providers; these would be identified working with Evenlode (approx. 3 but the linked consultancy will also be able to ask relevant questions with other respondents)
  • Buyers – such as Unilever, Cargill, Tesco, M&S; Homebase (approx. 2 but the linked consultancy will also be able to ask relevant questions with other respondents)
  • Organisations involved in community-based monitoring – FPP colleagues, Digital Democracy, local partners
  • Other organisations – such as Proforest, Global Canopy Programme, and academic institutions (approx. 5)


  • The interviews and literature review will seek to establish what ground truthing information needs investors and buyers have and what form that data might take (bearing in mind the reality and constraints of community-based monitoring on the ground)
  • This aspect will also include scanning of what other organisations are doing on community-based monitoring and an appraisal of whether it is feasible to connect community-level information and data with investor/buyer due diligence
  • Scoping should also explore how feedback can go back to the communities so they can retain an element of control of the use of their data and make sure it is used to their advantage and any other ethical considerations
  • It will also explore other ways that communities can know who to communicate their concerns to down the supply chain to help them address the problems they face, and what technical and other support communities require to support and/or develop and extend their monitoring and evidence-gathering capacities (for their own purposes, as well as feeding into investor information)  

Note: Questions for interviews will be discussed and agreed with FPP input


The expected outputs will be:

  1. A short Scoping paper (5-10 pages plus any Annexes) that shows the scope to link community monitoring with investors/buyers and vice versa. This will also include a broad brushstroke visualisation of who is doing what in community-based monitoring in related sectors. It would show what ground truthing information investors/buyers require, and in what form, and it would describe the options for possible approaches and next steps to improve due diligence and risk assessment with considerations of ethics and consent.
  2. Presentation of findings Moreton-in-Marsh
  3. Presentation of findings (remote or face-to-face) at RRI meeting on community-led mapping (in Nov)
  4. List of contacts in each organisation contacted
  5. Note: FPP will develop a timeline with the consultant that will include time for FPP review of 1st draft and 2nd draft of the two papers


Overall project management

James Whitehead and Chris Kidd will coordinate this work including RRI meeting on community-led mapping

Light admin support can be provided to set up meetings



The budget for this task is approximately £5,000

Local travel would be covered

Payment will be made within 30 days of receipt of the final report by FPP.


Skills and Competence

Specific skills and competencies we seek include:

  • Understanding of community monitoring approaches and the realities on the ground
  • Experience of working on global supply chains, risk assessment and corporate due diligence
  • Good people skills and ability to conduct semi-structured interviews
  • Good writing skills and ability to synthesise complex information in written, graphic and tabular forms



Applicants with the experience and skills described above are invited to submit the below:

  • A CV (or CVs)
  • A one-page cover letter introducing the applicant(s) experience and how the skills and competencies described above are met, with concrete examples. Please also use this cover letter to indicate applicant’s availability;

Applications should be submitted to Kate Newman ( by COB 30 Jun with ‘Gap Analysis Ground Truthing’ in the subject line. If you would like to discuss further please also email Kate Newman (