SPOTT – Sustainability Policy Transparency Toolkit – is a free, online platform supporting sustainable commodity production and trade. By tracking transparency, SPOTT incentivises the implementation of corporate best practice.
SPOTT assesses commodity producers and traders on the public disclosure of their policies, operations and commitments related to environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. SPOTT scores tropical forestry and palm oil companies annually against over 100 sector-specific indicators to benchmark their progress over time.
Investors, buyers and other key influencers can use SPOTT assessments to inform stakeholder engagement, manage ESG risk, and increase transparency across multiple industries.
SPOTT is an initiative developed by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).
Assessments and engagement
SPOTT supports constructive industry engagement by investors, ESG analysts, buyers and other supply chain stakeholders – those with the power to influence companies to increase disclosures and improve their practices on the ground.
Users of SPOTT can identify areas where a company is making continuous improvement and others areas where engagement may be needed. SPOTT indicators and assessment data can inform policies and procedures for due diligence, screening and sourcing.
Companies do not report directly to ZSL to inform their SPOTT assessments. Instead, we conduct thorough reviews of their publicly available reports and publications, before contacting each company with its draft assessment. This engagement process means that companies have the opportunity to respond to ZSL, make further public disclosures, and provide feedback ahead of the final review and publication on SPOTT.
We select companies using a methodology that considers the needs of SPOTT users and identifies companies of the greatest interest and impact given their operations, geographies, and supply chain positions. Specifically, we have selected companies for assessment based on the following factors:
- Operations in priority countries (i.e. in areas of high biodiversity value threatened by commodity production);
- Scope and scale of operations (e.g. areas of land owned or leased, revenue generated);
- Nominations by interested stakeholders, or companies volunteering themselves for assessment.
We encourage all companies – not just those assessed on SPOTT – to report regularly and accurately on their progress towards meeting commitments. ZSL accepts ongoing nominations of additional palm oil producers and traders and timber and pulp producers for future SPOTT assessment.
Indicators of best practice
SPOTT assessments follow two comprehensive frameworks of best practice indicators for palm oil producers and traders and timber and pulp producers. Each framework consists of detailed research protocols for more than 100 indicators divided across 10 categories. ZSL has developed the SPOTT indicators in collaboration with technical advisors to ensure they are closely aligned with related initiatives including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
SPOTT annual reports
ZSL has published three SPOTT annual reports since launching in November 2014. These reports demonstrate the impacts of SPOTT on the palm oil industry, tracking notable increases in corporate ESG transparency scores, demonstated on the SPOTT Dashboard.
The 2017 report includes the expansion of SPOTT to include assessments of 24 timber and pulp companies against a new indicator framework to highlight best practice in the forestry industry. The palm oil indicator framework was also revised in 2017, and now includes 125 ESG indicators across 10 categories.
ZSL (Zoological Society of London) is an international conservation charity working to create a world where wildlife thrives. From investigating the health threats facing animals to helping people and wildlife live alongside each other, ZSL is committed to bringing wildlife back from the brink of extinction. Our work is realised through our ground-breaking science, our field conservation around the world and engaging millions of people through our two zoos, ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.
ZSL is an active member of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), and works closely with other organisations such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
ZSL’s Business and Biodiversity Programme works to reduce the negative (and promote positive) impacts of industrial activities on the natural world. ZSL first started working with the palm oil industry in 2001, initially advising companies on how to manage populations of Sumatran tigers found in their concession sites – the areas where producers are allowed to operate.
Today, ZSL’s Indonesia Programme has expanded to work more broadly on tiger habitat conservation, anti-poaching patrols and ecological surveys using the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART), as well as community engagement to improve the livelihoods of local people.
ZSL and partners are working with the Government of South Sumatra to pilot a scalable, replicable model for sustainable landscape management. KELOLA Sendang is a public-private-people partnership that aims to address the challenges of deforestation, peatland degradation, wildfires, and associated climate impacts, while supporting green growth and biodiversity conservation.
As part of the project, SPOTT informs and facilitates dialogue between companies and their buyers and financiers, which supports the delivery of corporate sustainability commitments. This approach can support the implementation of best practice and green growth opportunities across the South Sumatra landscape, Indonesia, and beyond.
SPOTT benefits from the valued support of donors and technical advisors. ZSL would like to thank:
Donors (in alphabetical order):
- Credit Suisse
- David and Lucile Packard Foundation
- Generation Foundation
- The Government of Norway
- The UK Government
Data and development:
- Blue Raster
- Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
- Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)
- Thomson Reuters
- World Resources Institute (WRI)