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  • Making international standards more credible: The case of the FSC forest management label

Making international standards more credible: The case of the FSC forest management label

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Issue 50 of Perspective, the CIRAD policy brief series, looks at the credibility of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard that will be increased if certain indicators and auditing practices are reviewed. This revision process will facilitate the work of the certification bodies and will clarify the adoption of practices by certified forestry companies.

The global organisation FSC International regulates the FSC forest management label, which is translated into national standards according to the context in each country. The initial version of the Principles and Criteria for this label, published in 1994, was revised and, in 2015, new Principles and Criteria were published, along with a list of generic indicators. This new version should be used to update national standards. This issue of Perspective proposes recommendations for drafting these new national standards and reviewing certain audit procedures. The study’s recommendations are illustrated with specific cases in Brazil, Indonesia and the countries of the Congo Basin. Indicators for the new national standards need to minimise any scope for interpretation during certification audits. Audits should no longer accept recurrence of the same non-conformities, even when these issues are minor. With Gabon announcing in September 2018 the obligation to obtain FSC certification in order to allocate or maintain forest concessions from 2020 onwards, it is important to reduce existing weaknesses in this certification.

Access this publication in English.

Access this publication in French.

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  • Spilling the beans: FTA scientists contribute to new book about sustainable cocoa 

Spilling the beans: FTA scientists contribute to new book about sustainable cocoa 

Cacao produced in Cameroon. Photo by O. Girard/CIFOR
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With a distinguished editor and a variety of international experts as authors, including a number from the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing recently launched the book Achieving sustainable cultivation of cocoa, considered a new standard reference for scientists and producers of cocoa.

Eduardo Somarriba from the Agriculture, Livestock and Agroforestry Program (PRAGA) at CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) appears as a chapter author, while CATIE’s Rolando Cerda and Wilbert Phillips are coauthors.

Bioversity International’s Stephan Weise, Brigitte Laliberté and Jan Engels also contributed to the book. Meanwhile, the Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) saw a number of contributors across various chapters, namely Philippe Lachenaud, Didier Snoeck, Bernard Dubos, Leïla Bagny Beilhe, Régis Babin, Martijn ten Hoopen, Christian Cilas and Olivier Sounigo.

Read also: Achieving sustainable cultivation of cocoa

According to Francis Dodds, editorial director of Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing, the book discusses the existing challenges standing in the way of making cocoa crops more efficient and sustainable, in order to supply increasing demand, while taking into account the increasing age of plantations, decreasing performance and greater vulnerability to illnesses. At the same time, the authors heed increasing concerns about the environmental impact of cocoa on soil health and biodiversity.

The first part of the book looks at genetic resources and developments in production technologies. The second part discusses the optimization of crop techniques to take maximum advantage of the new varieties, while the third part summarizes recent research about the understanding of and fight against major viral and fungal diseases affecting cocoa. The fourth part covers security and quality issues, and finally the last part of the book analyzes ways to improve sustainability, including the role of agroforestry, organic crops, and ways to support small producers.

Achieving sustainable cultivation of cocoa

Notably, Somarriba and Philips contributed to the first and fifth sections of the book, with Somarriba addressing the issue of the analysis and design of the shade canopy of cocoa in agroforestry systems, and Phillips looking at the main challenges of conservation and exploiting cocoa genetic resources.

Read also: CATIE continues to improve people’s wellbeing across Latin America and Caribbean through education and research

The book was edited by the recognized and cocoa expert, Pathmanathan Umahran, director of the Research Centre for Cocoa and professor of genetic at the University of the Occidental Indies, in Trinidad and Tobago.

Martin Gilmour, Director of Research and Sustainability Development of Cocoa at Mars Global Chocolate, stated in a press release from Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing that the book would be of great interest for researchers, development agencies, governments, specialists in the industry and non-government organizations, as well as anyone interested in improving cocoa crop sustainability.

Adapted from the article by CATIE communicator Karla Salazar Leiva, originally published by CATIE.

For more information, contact Karla Salazar Leiva at [email protected] or Eduardo Somarriba, Leader of CATIE’s Agriculture, Livestock and Agroforestry Program, at [email protected].

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  • CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) Annual Report 2017

CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) Annual Report 2017

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The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) contributes to 9 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to all CGIAR Intermediate Development Outcomes (IDOs) and to 31 sub-IDOs with different levels of investment. With efforts targeted respectively at 29%, 33%, 38% across System Level Outcomes (SLOs) 1, 2 and 3, FTA balanced its work across four main production systems (natural forests, plantations, pastures and cropping systems with trees) dealing with a number of globally traded and/or locally important tree-crop commodities (timber, oil palm, rubber, coffee, cocoa, coconut, wood fuel, fruits, etc.), that form the basis for the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of smallholders. These commodities also represent an important share of the land area, including 13 million km2 of forests and 9.5 million km2 of agricultural lands (45% of the total agricultural area with >10% tree cover). Progress towards IDOs in 2017 resulted from FTA work on technical innovations and tools, as well as on value chains, and institutional and policy processes. These innovations were taken up and diffused by different actors and along value chains, and all were suited to their particular context. As 2017 is the first year of FTA’s six-year program, progress towards SLOs was aimed at the upstream level; in some cases there was already progress towards downstream uptake.

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  • CIFOR now hosts comprehensive REDD+ tool ID-RECCO

CIFOR now hosts comprehensive REDD+ tool ID-RECCO

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A REDD+ Safeguards and Benefit Sharing Project site is seen in Jambi. Photo by I. Cooke Vieira/CIFOR

An innovative Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) monitoring tool, the International Database on REDD+ Projects and Programs Linking Economic, Carbon and Communities Data (ID-RECCO), is now hosted by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry’s (FTA) lead center, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Launched in 2013, ID-RECCO highlights 467 subnational REDD+ initiatives from around the world. It includes 110 variables, such as carbon certification, sources of funding, and expected socioeconomic and environmental impacts, in a format that can be used for research purposes and analysis. ID-RECCO was the first tool to gather such a large amount of information on subnational REDD+ initiatives in a comprehensive way, and it continues to evolve.

“CIFOR is very pleased to host the ID-RECCO database given our priority for understanding the progress and performance of REDD+ on the ground. We are committed to keeping the database updated and ensuring that it stays relevant for the broader tropical forests and climate community,” said Amy Duchelle, CIFOR Senior Scientist.

As Duchelle describes, the next big change to ID-RECCO will allow users to easily distinguish between local REDD+ projects and subnational jurisdictional programs. For REDD+ projects, CIFOR will validate the data through a survey with project implementers that will be conducted in upcoming months. To expand the database to include subnational jurisdictional REDD+ programs, CIFOR will draw on new collaborative research with Earth Innovation Institute (EII) and the Governors’ Climate and Forests (GCF) Task Force.

ID-RECCO was created by Gabriela Simonet when she was based at the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and Climate Economics Chair (CEC) with founding partner the International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI). CIRAD is also an FTA partner institution.

“ID-RECCO was born in the hands of Gabriela in CIRAD, pushed by her motivation to understand if REDD+ was going to fulfill the on-the-ground socio-economic and ecological impacts that stakeholders were advocating for. In that sense is a ground-breaking initiative and a unique dataset to reach such an understanding. It allows, for example, to extract simple statistics, like the amount of hectares covered by REDD+, and understand the trends and types of REDD+ projects and initiatives,” said Driss Ezzine-de-Blas, CIRAD Researcher.

Ezzine-de-Blas also notes that while the data can be used by researchers to match their expectations to the reality of REDD+, other stakeholders will also benefit by taking REDD+ more seriously and will have data-based evidence in hand to continue their work.

“ID-RECCO is the first comprehensive database on REDD+ projects worldwide. It has the great advantage to allow international comparison of very diverse types of projects, in various locations. Being frequently updated and open access, it then constitutes a unique tool that makes possible monitoring and impact evaluation of those initiatives, which will provide a better understanding of the conditions of success of REDD+ implementation,” said Philippe Delacote, Researcher, Climate Economics Chair.

ID-RECCO can be accessed at http://www.reddprojectsdatabase.org/

For more information, please contact Gabriela Simonet at [email protected].


This announcement was originally published by CIFOR.

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  • CIFOR now hosts comprehensive REDD+ tool ID-RECCO

CIFOR now hosts comprehensive REDD+ tool ID-RECCO

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A REDD+ Safeguards and Benefit Sharing Project site is seen in Jambi. Photo by I. Cooke Vieira/CIFOR

An innovative Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) monitoring tool, the International Database on REDD+ Projects and Programs Linking Economic, Carbon and Communities Data (ID-RECCO), is now hosted by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry’s (FTA) lead center, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Launched in 2013, ID-RECCO highlights 467 subnational REDD+ initiatives from around the world. It includes 110 variables, such as carbon certification, sources of funding, and expected socioeconomic and environmental impacts, in a format that can be used for research purposes and analysis. ID-RECCO was the first tool to gather such a large amount of information on subnational REDD+ initiatives in a comprehensive way, and it continues to evolve.

“CIFOR is very pleased to host the ID-RECCO database given our priority for understanding the progress and performance of REDD+ on the ground. We are committed to keeping the database updated and ensuring that it stays relevant for the broader tropical forests and climate community,” said Amy Duchelle, CIFOR Senior Scientist.

As Duchelle describes, the next big change to ID-RECCO will allow users to easily distinguish between local REDD+ projects and subnational jurisdictional programs. For REDD+ projects, CIFOR will validate the data through a survey with project implementers that will be conducted in upcoming months. To expand the database to include subnational jurisdictional REDD+ programs, CIFOR will draw on new collaborative research with Earth Innovation Institute (EII) and the Governors’ Climate and Forests (GCF) Task Force.

ID-RECCO was created by Gabriela Simonet when she was based at the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and Climate Economics Chair (CEC) with founding partner the International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI). CIRAD is also an FTA partner institution.

“ID-RECCO was born in the hands of Gabriela in CIRAD, pushed by her motivation to understand if REDD+ was going to fulfill the on-the-ground socio-economic and ecological impacts that stakeholders were advocating for. In that sense is a ground-breaking initiative and a unique dataset to reach such an understanding. It allows, for example, to extract simple statistics, like the amount of hectares covered by REDD+, and understand the trends and types of REDD+ projects and initiatives,” said Driss Ezzine-de-Blas, CIRAD Researcher.

Ezzine-de-Blas also notes that while the data can be used by researchers to match their expectations to the reality of REDD+, other stakeholders will also benefit by taking REDD+ more seriously and will have data-based evidence in hand to continue their work.

“ID-RECCO is the first comprehensive database on REDD+ projects worldwide. It has the great advantage to allow international comparison of very diverse types of projects, in various locations. Being frequently updated and open access, it then constitutes a unique tool that makes possible monitoring and impact evaluation of those initiatives, which will provide a better understanding of the conditions of success of REDD+ implementation,” said Philippe Delacote, Researcher, Climate Economics Chair.

ID-RECCO can be accessed at http://www.reddprojectsdatabase.org/

For more information, please contact Gabriela Simonet at [email protected].


This announcement was originally published by CIFOR.

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  • FTA scientists feature in innovative series of talks on landscapes

FTA scientists feature in innovative series of talks on landscapes

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Landscapes Talks, which piqued the interest of audiences at the recent Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) in Bonn, Germany, aim to be a “space for leading academics and scientists to provide short talks on current landscape activities”, according to the GLF concept note.

CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) scientists appeared multiple times during the series of engaging talks, making for some powerful statements and diverse insights into the program’s research.

Read more: What is FTA?

The first day of the event saw Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) principal scientist Terry Sunderland present on Integrated landscapes approaches: From theory to practice. In his talk, Sunderland highlighted key elements of the landscape approach, how it builds on previous initiatives and how to move from theory to practice.

Later in the day, CIFOR Senior Scientist Daniel Murdiyarso presented Why care about peatlands? discussing the development of the Global Wetlands Map, its use, and the need for verification. Using an Indonesian case study, he demonstrated how to locate degraded peatland, and proposed criteria for successful restoration by rewetting degraded peatland.

On the second day of the GLF, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Director General Tony Simons gave a presentation titled Planet for sale, in which he discussed restoration opportunities around the world and how agroforestry can help to restore productivity and function.

Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD) scientist Bruno Locatelli also gave a thought-provoking talk called Adopting a new perspective on landscapes and water, using rubber boots and a rain jacket as props to clearly communicate new research results on forest, water and energy interactions that provide the foundations for cooling terrestrial surfaces and for distributing water resources.

Aside from the Landscapes Talks, FTA organized a Discussion Forum along with the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) titled ‘Rainfall Recycling’ as a Landscape Function: Connecting SDGs 6, 13 and 15, as well as participating in Enhancing tenure security and gender equality in the context of forest landscape restoration and Agroforestry’s role in landscape restoration: Connecting SDGs 15, 13, 1 and 3.

FTA was present at the GLF’s Restoration Pavilion and Inclusive Landscapes Finance Pavilion, at which Tropenbos International, FTA and other partners organized a well-attended panel titled Inclusive Finance and Business Models – Actions for Upscaling, contributing to the wide range of insights and knowledge shared throughout the two-day GLF.

Read more: FTA at Global Landscapes Forum Bonn


This work forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

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  • Adopting a new perspective on landscapes and water

Adopting a new perspective on landscapes and water

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  • Eighteen institutions sign up to Tropical managed Forests Observatory

Eighteen institutions sign up to Tropical managed Forests Observatory

It is estimated that only a quarter of tropical forests are pristine. Photo by TmFO
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The DR Congo has the second largest tropical forest area in the world. Photo by Ollivier Girard/CIFOR

The Tropical managed Forests Observatory (TmFO) was recently formalized by a collaboration agreement signed by 18 institutions, including Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD).

The confirmation of this unique network will enable it to continue monitoring the world’s logged tropical forests and drafting recommendations for sustainable silviculture. This is a crucial challenge in the light of biodiversity erosion and climate change.

Some 75 percent of the world’s tropical forests have been disrupted by human activity. It is vital to understand the ecology and resilience of these managed ecosystems in order to determine their future role in mitigating global warming and conserving biodiversity in the territories concerned. The TmFO network is the only organization working on logged tropical forests, as the other existing structures (Rainfor and CTFS) are limited to so-called primary forest.

“The network, which is now official, will benefit from greater visibility,” said the CIRAD researcher coordinating the network, Plinio Sist, also of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). “What we have to do now is to sustain it by developing projects.”

Read more: Tropical Production Forests Observatory

Fine-tuning recommendations concerning sustainable silviculture 

TmFO has existed informally since 2012. At the time, CIRAD decided to use funding from FTA to federate several experimental sites on three continents (in Amazonia, the Congo Basin and Southeast Asia). Those sites are monitoring forest dynamics after logging and silviculture. Some have existed for more than 30 years, such as Paracou (French Guiana), Mbaiki (Central African Republic) and Tapajos in the Brazilian Amazon.

It is estimated that only a quarter of tropical forests are pristine. Photo by TmFO

“The aim is to have a regional and pantropical picture of the resilience of these forests,” Sist explained. In effect, “the forests of the northeastern Amazon do not react to logging in the same way as others in the South of the forest basin. The observatory’s data are placed within a regional context, and are thus more useful for adapting sustainable silviculture recommendations.”

Exceptional opportunity to study forest resilience  

The TmFO network has already enabled a degree of progress. For instance, it has demonstrated that Amazon forests recover their carbon stock in 20 years. This result shows that sustainably logged forests play a fundamental role in C02 capture, hence in mitigating climate change.

Read more: Diversity, commitment, challenges and shared goals: How CIRAD looks at FTA

The general agreement specifies four main structures: a steering committee, in which each of the 18 member institutions will be represented by a member, and three regional technical committees, for Amazonia, the Congo Basin and Southeast Asia. CIRAD is coordinator for the next two years.

The TmFO network in figures:

  • 22 experimental sites encompassing 517 forest plots covering a total of 1134 ha
  • 18 forestry research institutions are monitoring those sites, all of which have signed the agreement
  • 9 countries are home to those sites: Bolivia, Brazil, Guyana, France (French Guiana), Surinam, Central African Republic, Gabon, Malaysia and Indonesia
  • 40 researchers are involved in the network.

Originally published on CIRAD.fr.


This work forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors

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  • Eighteen institutions sign up to Tropical managed Forests Observatory

Eighteen institutions sign up to Tropical managed Forests Observatory

It is estimated that only a quarter of tropical forests are pristine. Photo by TmFO
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The DR Congo has the second largest tropical forest area in the world. Photo by Ollivier Girard/CIFOR

The Tropical managed Forests Observatory (TmFO) was recently formalized by a collaboration agreement signed by 18 institutions, including Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD).

The confirmation of this unique network will enable it to continue monitoring the world’s logged tropical forests and drafting recommendations for sustainable silviculture. This is a crucial challenge in the light of biodiversity erosion and climate change.

Some 75 percent of the world’s tropical forests have been disrupted by human activity. It is vital to understand the ecology and resilience of these managed ecosystems in order to determine their future role in mitigating global warming and conserving biodiversity in the territories concerned. The TmFO network is the only organization working on logged tropical forests, as the other existing structures (Rainfor and CTFS) are limited to so-called primary forest.

“The network, which is now official, will benefit from greater visibility,” said the CIRAD researcher coordinating the network, Plinio Sist, also of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). “What we have to do now is to sustain it by developing projects.”

Read more: Tropical Production Forests Observatory

Fine-tuning recommendations concerning sustainable silviculture 

TmFO has existed informally since 2012. At the time, CIRAD decided to use funding from FTA to federate several experimental sites on three continents (in Amazonia, the Congo Basin and Southeast Asia). Those sites are monitoring forest dynamics after logging and silviculture. Some have existed for more than 30 years, such as Paracou (French Guiana), Mbaiki (Central African Republic) and Tapajos in the Brazilian Amazon.

It is estimated that only a quarter of tropical forests are pristine. Photo by TmFO

“The aim is to have a regional and pantropical picture of the resilience of these forests,” Sist explained. In effect, “the forests of the northeastern Amazon do not react to logging in the same way as others in the South of the forest basin. The observatory’s data are placed within a regional context, and are thus more useful for adapting sustainable silviculture recommendations.”

Exceptional opportunity to study forest resilience  

The TmFO network has already enabled a degree of progress. For instance, it has demonstrated that Amazon forests recover their carbon stock in 20 years. This result shows that sustainably logged forests play a fundamental role in C02 capture, hence in mitigating climate change.

Read more: Diversity, commitment, challenges and shared goals: How CIRAD looks at FTA

The general agreement specifies four main structures: a steering committee, in which each of the 18 member institutions will be represented by a member, and three regional technical committees, for Amazonia, the Congo Basin and Southeast Asia. CIRAD is coordinator for the next two years.

The TmFO network in figures:

  • 22 experimental sites encompassing 517 forest plots covering a total of 1134 ha
  • 18 forestry research institutions are monitoring those sites, all of which have signed the agreement
  • 9 countries are home to those sites: Bolivia, Brazil, Guyana, France (French Guiana), Surinam, Central African Republic, Gabon, Malaysia and Indonesia
  • 40 researchers are involved in the network.

Originally published on CIRAD.fr.


This work forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors

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  • CIRAD research featured in new book on corporate governance

CIRAD research featured in new book on corporate governance

At a sustainably certified sawmill in Jepara, men carefully cut logs of wood that are then measured and marked. Photo by D. Ramsay/CIFOR
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A sustainably certified sawmill in Jepara, Indonesia. Photo by D. Ramsay/CIFOR

How does the complex pattern of shareholdings and subsidiaries – entangled, hierarchical and pyramidal – influence actions, decisions, policies and strategies? It could be said that the behavior of conglomerates and mega corporations is influenced by their ownership structure.

A new book, Minister of Finance Incorporated: Ownership and control of corporate Malaysia, looks at quantitative methods to decipher corporate governance, from biomass, forest and plantations to Malaysia’s corporate finance.

How the structure of commodity corporates could impact the sustainability of agricultural landscapes is of direct interest to the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), one of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry’s (FTA) partner institutions.

Jean-Marc Roda speaks about the new book. Photo by IDEAS

Read more: Sustainable value chains and investments to support forest conservation and equitable development

This is because many activities linked to deforestation; forest management; the sustainability of palm oil, rubber and timber plantations; biomass and biofuel strategies are driven by the choices of international finance and mega corporations.

CIRAD’s activities concern the life sciences, social sciences and engineering sciences, applied to agriculture, the environment and territorial management. Its work centers on food security, climate change, natural resource management, the reduction of inequalities and poverty alleviation.

In particular, in Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, research by CIRAD and its public- and private-sector partners focuses on natural resource management, food security, biodiversity studies and the sustainability of tree crop-based systems, paying particular attention to island agro-ecosystems, which are particularly sensitive to climate change.

ET Gomez presents during the book launch. Photo by IDEAS

In 2010, CIRAD’s Jean-Marc Roda and his Malaysian team at Universiti Putra Malaysia started to develop methodologies aimed at deciphering corporate governance and their environmental commitments among Southeast Asian transnationals. Deciphering corporate governance and environmental commitments among Southeast Asian transnationals: Uptake of sustainability certification was subsequently published in 2015.

The paper’s coauthor Norfaryanti Kamaruddin, who also contributed to the recently launched book, previously completed a PhD that was partially supported by FTA.

An important debate on global trade and sustainability relates to the role that corporate governance has on the uptake of sustainability standards. The paper suggests that financial factors, such as ownership structure and flexibility in decision-making, may have a fundamental role in understanding the adoption of sustainable standard systems in the corporate sector. This is based on the analysis of four major Asian agribusiness transnationals comprising about 931 companies.

In addition, this paper explores as a way forward the convergence of environmental sustainability with long-term family business sustainability.

Read more: Soils, governance, big data and 99 tropical countries: Best reads in forests, trees and agroforestry

The new book looks at corporate ownership and control in Malaysia.

Research tools developed throughout the project proved extremely accurate for deciphering any kind of corporate financial structure. Such quantitative methods of ownership structure analysis, initially designed for the analysis of the forest and agriculture financial sectors, were successfully employed to independently confirm and illustrate previously published results from ET Gomez.

Roda and his team were able to demonstrate how a core of 26 corporations controlled the Malaysian corporate sector and to provide details on how that control spread throughout the financial network, leading to the chapter “Understanding the network typology of the seven government-linked investment companies (GLICs)”.

The book was launched by the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) in August 2017. It covers all Malaysian financial sectors, with Chapter 4 focusing on the plantation sector and on quantitative methods used for comparison and validation.

Adapted from the article by Jean-Marc Roda, originally published by CIRAD.


This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.


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