Zoological Society of London (ZSL) managing the Living Planet Index (LPI) in collaboration with WWF developed a toolkit for investors called SPOTT in 2014 and provide the assessments against palm oil producers. Here is the interview with Ms. Clara Melot, SPOTT Engagement and Impacts Mangere presenting at RI Asia 2017
About SPOTT click here
SusCon: UK government financially supports SPOTT.
Melot: Yes, we are grantees of the UK Climate Change Unit fund. UKCCU is a cross government unit which brings together DFID, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Its aim is to support the delivery of goals related to sustainable development and climate change. Deforestation and climate change is intimately related, and commodities causing deforestation are all about the sustainable use of natural resource in developing countries.
SusCon: What’s the difference from CDP Forest as disclosure project for investors in the theme of deforestation commodities?
Melot: CDP sends questionnaires to manufacturers and retailers of palm oil products. SPOTT gathers publicly available data and information of palm oil producers to assess each of them. While we send out our draft assessments to have their comment prior to making the assessment result open to public, it’s not a survey by questionnaires. If we don’t receive any feedback from a company, we present our assessment on it as it is.
SusCon: How do you assess them?
Melot: SPOTT methodology such as indicators and criteria is developed by a multi-stakeholder working group comprised of investors, buyers, NGOs and so on. Following this methodology, ZSL assessment team of 10 staff gathers and analyses data. It takes in average one day per company. After sending our assessment to the assessed company, we wait 2 to 3 weeks for the feedback. If we receive any comments, we reflect those into our data and release the results on our website.
SusCon: How do you disseminate this tool to investors for who it is developed?
Melot: First of all, SPOTT was invented to respond to the requests and demands from investors. That said, we communicate and present SPOTT to asset managers at events like RI Asia, including networking time. Live Debates organized by Guardian are also useful for outreach.
SusCon: Your leaflet of SPOTT says SPOTT made a great success. What’s your criteria of success?
Melot: As SPOTT is a free on-line database, we look at the access statistics for evaluation. We count more than 6100 unique users per month, one third of which are from UK and US, but we have also visitors from production countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia.
SPOTT Access by region (graph by ZSL)
SusCon: How about Japanese financial community?
Melot: So far, we don’t have any contact except Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank which participates in the Investor Working Group on Sustainable Palm Oil at PRI.
SusCon: Did you see any evidence of usage at investors?
Melot: We confirm the usage at Credit Suisse, Aviva Investors and Kepler Chevreux for instance. We also received positive comments from producers such as Eagle High Plantation and Noble Group, saying SPOTT helps the improvement of their practice. You can read them in our annual report.
SusCon: Share with us your future plan.
Melot: We expand SPOTT to other commodities. We aim to launch the toolkit for timber, pulp and paper this year, then other requested commodities like rubber, sugar and aquaculture will be examined. We are also revising the indicator framework for palm oil, which will be available around July this year. Several categories will be added and consequently there are more indicators against which the disclosure is assessed. With this change we will take 2 days for assessment per company.