02 June 2021

The HCV Network wraps up its successful first Global Summit

The HCV Summit 2021, brought together more than 200 participants, including commodity producers, technical organizations, certification schemes, and nongovernmental organizations. We had the chance to talk about about HCV Landscape Screening, smallholders involvement in global food production, the role of the finance sector on ensuring safeguards in commodities.

We are well into the global decade of action – with the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework, the Paris Agreement and other global commitments and frameworks that are key for sustainable ecosystems and livelihoods. Increasingly companies, investors and nations need to demonstrate how they are contributing to achieving these targets.

The HCV Approach was first developed over 20 years ago in the context of sustainable forest management. Today it is widely adopted in agricultural production, across a range of certification schemes, forms part of no-deforestation commitments and financial and investment due-diligence processes. It is a holistic three-step methodology for identifying important biodiversity, ecosystems, and social and cultural values in places where development is taking place. Using the HCV Approach clearly contributes to achieving the global biodiversity, climate mitigation and social targets. Since the inception of the HCV Approach, pressures on conservation values have dramatically intensified. For the HCV Approach to continue to be effective in addressing these pressures, the tools, users, and narrative will have to continue to evolve and rapidly scale-up.

The HCV Summit 2021, the first ever for the HCV Network, on 2-3 June 2021, brought together more than 200 participants, including commodity producers, technical organizations, certification schemes, and nongovernmental organizations. The objective was to explore how the HCV Network and its 31 member organizations can work together in strenghtening the HCV Approach so that it can best contribute towards achieving the global goals.

Eight panel sessions were held: landscapes, certification, finance, quality assurance, smallholders, aquatic ecosystems, and forests.

The Summit’s line-up of speakers included: Rhett Butler, Mongabay founder and CEO, Kim Carstensen, Executive Director at FSC, Danielle Morley, CEO at Bonsucro, Rod Taylor, Global Director of the Forests Program at WRI, Anne Rosenbarger, Global Engagement Manager, Commodities and Finance for the Global Forest Watch Initiative and RSPO Board Co-Chair, Alexis Morgan, Global Water Stewardship Lead at WWF, Craig Tribolet, Sustainability Operations Manager at APRIL, Robin Abell, Freshwater Lead at Conservation International, Ivo Mulder, head of UNEP’s Climate Finance Unit, and Felipe Carazo, head of public sector engagement for TFA at the World Economic Forum.



HCV Screening can be a useful tool that goes beyond the management unit, providing a decision tool that supports stakeholders to strike a balance between production, conservation, and livelihoods. Governments, companies, development organisations and academia need to collaborate in HCV Screening processes, share information across commodities, and include indigenous peoples and local communities in sourcing knowledge and data for screenings and in decision-making. There needs to be more guidance on engaging stakeholders at landscape level, on sharing information, and using the spatial data available at the nexus of nature and development. According to Craig Tribolet from APRIL, ‘the HCV Approach offers land managers reliable, credible and effective tools as a fundamental starting point in our landscape planning processes’.

Sharing the costs and benefits of protecting HCVs

When farmers have the ability to achieve their livelihoods they do care for and see the benefit of protecting HCVs. However currently the cost and burden of protecting HCVs largely rests with producers, including smallholder producers. We need a more shared distribution of the costs and benefits, so it is not just a sacrifice made by producers to protect values. ‘Data is key for communicating to buyers what you are buying, so they can better contribute to a shared distribution of the costs of protecting HCVs’ according to Kim Carstensen, FSC.

Smallholder involvement

Smallholder farmers make a significant contribution to global food production (30%). However, due to poverty and lack of support and incentives they clear millions of hectares of forests and other ecosystems every year. Working with smallholders – via companies, standards, NGOs, and donors is an opportunity to provide farmers with practical tools to identify and manage HCVs on their land. The Network should focus on developing tools for farmer documentation and self-verification of their practices. HCVN could help design and run or oversee a system for such verification – centrally or through qualified experts. A key role for the HCV Network is to ensure smallholder producers see the benefits of protecting HCVs, through developing the financial mechanisms, access to sustainability markets and verification.

The role of the finance sector

While some financing institutions are leaders in social and environmental policies, many large banks financing commodities we use on day-to-day basis still need to start applying the HCV Approach across the board. The protection of High Conservation Values is already part of financing commitments and policies, however banks typically lack capacity and are unaware of the issues.

Commodities that have a voluntary sustainability certification scheme with HCV provisions embedded in their principles and criteria help make mainstreaming across financing easier. However commodities that don’t have such certifications or where certification is not yet the norm have a high impact on forests (cattle, coffee, rubber) and non-forest ecosystems (wheat on prairies). These have yet to adopt the HCV Approach as part of the standards, which inhibits financing decisions. Another challenge is working outside certification – the reality is not all commodities will have a certification scheme, and in these contexts, the financial sector plays a crucial role in promoting responsible expansion of agriculture and other land-uses such as mining or infrastructure.

As a HCV Network we need to: ensure sure financial institutions improve their understanding of HCV, that they follow up on their policies, that they check their investments lead to HCVs being respected, maintained and enhanced, and that this is reported over time as a lending condition.


The Summit was possible thanks to the generous support of these sponsors: APRIL (Platinum Sponsor), Proforest (Gold Sponsor), APP Sinarmas (Silver Sponsor), Greenera (Bronze Sponsor), and BioAp (Bronze Sponsor).

What’s next?

Outputs from the summit will be used to develop the HCV Network Roadmap – which will set out our priorities and collaborative actions for the Secretariat over the coming decade.

About the HCV Network and the HCV Approach

The HCV Network is a member-based organization that strives to protect High Conservation Values where development takes place. The HCV Network has 31 Member organizations including influential social and environmental NGOs, such as WWF, the World Resources Institute, The Nature Conservancy, Fauna and Flora International, and Forest Peoples Programme.

More information

For more information, please contact secretariat@hcvnetwork.org


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