‘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 Reference: Gap analysis of current approaches to going beyond paper-compliance in investor/buyer due diligence relating to forest-risk commodity supply chains
To be carried out between 14 Jul and 14 Oct 2019
Background: why is this piece of work required?
- 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 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;
- Financial sector analysts TMP Systems, found that companies ignoring pre-existing or customary local land rights in their acquisition processes experienced financial damage ranging from operating costs increased by as much as 29 times to outright abandonment of operations. Investors and buyers also risk failing on their ESG commitments and exposing themselves to significant reputational risk.
- 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 significantly overstate the levels of corporate compliance according to checklists and disregard independent information on supply chain risks (some of which is in the public domain).
- Communities 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 opportunity to demonstrate 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.
- Risks associated with on-the-ground issues could be reduced if investors or the analysts that they use (sell-side research, credit ratings agencies etc) had access to better information about these links.
- 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.
- Gap Analysis: To map what existing methods and evidence sources are used by investors and buyers to verify and validate information used in their investment and supply chain due diligence and risk assessment in order to ground truth both their decisions and their engagement with supply chain actors. To analyse where the main ground truthing and other validation gaps are, why they exist and how to close them.
Please note, this will involve coordination with a linked consultancy on scoping how community-based monitoring data might influence investor/buyer behaviour in forest-risk commodity supply chains with a specific focus on land-related conflict.
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. 10)
- Buyers – such as Unilever, Cargill, Tesco, M&S; Homebase; (approx. 5)
- Other organisations – such as Proforest, Global Canopy Programme, ZSL and TMP Systems, and academic institutions (approx. 5)
- The assessment will review current investor and company due diligence methodologies and procedures for evaluating risks of illegal land acquisition (past or present), evidence of other illegalities and criminal activity; methods for respecting customary, informal and user rights to land; current land and resource conflicts; abuse of human rights and violation of the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) by affected communities (who may be located ‘outside’ the specific investment boundaries);
- The interviews and literature review will seek to establish what risk assessment validation methods are used and what ground truthing information is currently accessed; the interviews will also explore demand and supply side gaps in the validation of risk assessment and use of ground truthing and reasons why such gaps exist;
- The evaluation should thus contain a summary review of how companies and investors currently undertake due diligence to ensure that their investment and supply chains are legal (meeting applicable laws in the host country and international law) and compliant with company public commitments on land rights, human rights and forests; CSR policies and applicable industry standards, including certification principles and criteria;
- The analysis will pinpoint where the gaps are from the perspective of buyers and investors and how they think that validation and ground truthing could shift company behaviour to ensure sustainable supply chains, prevent land grabbing, uphold human rights and protect forest and other ecosystems.
Note: Questions for interviews will be discussed and agreed with FPP input. They may also include additional questions related to the linked consultancy on scoping how community-based monitoring data might influence investor/buyer behaviour in forest-risk commodity supply chains.
The expected outputs will be:
- A short Gap Analysis paper (10-15 pages plus any Annexes) mapping the main approaches currently used by Investors and Buyers for ground truthing related to land conflict. This will also include a visualisation of who is doing what in this space. It will also include clear identification of where the main ground truthing gaps are, why they exist and how to close them.
- Presentation of findings Moreton-in-Marsh
- Presentation of findings (remote or face-to-face) with other stakeholders (tbc)
- List of contacts in each organisation contacted
Note: FPP will develop a timeline with the consultant that will include time for FPP review of 1st draft and 2nd draft of the paper
Overall project management
James Whitehead will coordinate this work with close input from Tom Griffiths
Light admin can be provided to set up meetings
The budget for this task is approximately £5,000
Local travel would be covered; admin can be provided to set up meetings
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:
- Experience of working on global supply chains, CSR policies and corporate and investor due diligence on human rights, land tenure and environmental protection
- Knowledge of commodity certification schemes and social and environmental legal standards in producer countries
- 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
- 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 and queries should be submitted to Kate Newman (KNewman@forestpeoples.org) by COB 30 Jun with ‘Gap Analysis Ground Truthing’ in the subject line.
 Illegality is defined with respect to both national and international law, including respect for customary land rights