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Seeing the Wood for the Trees with Corporate Transparency


Jaya Chakrabarti is a passionate advocate for engaging business with community through technology to improve people’s lives, and was honoured with an MBE in 2014’s  Queen’s honours list ‘For services to the Creative Digital Industries and the community in Bristol’. Jaya set up social enterprise (Transparency In Supply Chains Report) in 2016, to tackle slavery in supply chains. In 2018 TISCreport was a finalist for two anti-corruption technology awards and is the world’s largest anti-slavery register. In 2018 Jaya was named one of the top 100 Corporate Influencers in Modern Slavery and also one of the 2019 top 100 Asian Stars in Tech.

Most of you who know me will think of me as that rather loud woman who evangelises about open data, corporate transparency and ending modern slavery

So if I were to tell you that I had a cunning plan to rapidly increase the rate of afforestation in the UK and then the world (!) you’d probably be wondering why I was changing tack. The answer is very simple: I’m not. I’m simply applying the Pareto Principle, aka the 80/20 rule. 

You see, all my adult life I’ve been in search of the elegant solution to the issues I’ve wanted to tackle as a (digital) activist. If 80% of the effects of climate change and human rights injustices comes from 20% of the causes, then why can’t 80% of the solution be achieved with 20% of the players? In the case of the UK, it’s much less than 20%. It’s 0.004% (<17k companies out of 4.2 Million) and TISCreport tracks every single one of them. They are all deemed large (over £36M turnover), and they all own significant assets, including land. Aggregating publicly available corporate data as open data has been proven to influence corporate behaviour on compliance matters.  Perhaps we can use it to encourage their boards to make proactive climate-saving decisions too?, our corporate transparency platform, birthed and being raised in Bristol, is built on the foundations of Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act. The Transparency in Supply Chains (TISC) clause is mistakenly thought of as having no teeth. However even in its current form it has not one but two stings in its tail. The first is that it has global reach. The second is that it couples elegantly with other key regulations that DO have teeth and demand the attention of pretty much every corporate function that is concerned with financial and non-financial risk. Deforestation might be too diffuse a threat to enable legal entities to take responsibility for it. And there is currently no visibility of relevant strategic asset ownership, even though many of these brands have committed to UN SDGs and other environmental targets as part of their brand values. But if key influencers are told that they have assets and procurement leverage that could make a difference, then the chances are that the right decisions are more likely to be made.

Enter Vana. Vana is a Sanskrit term that translates to “a forest, wood, grove, spring… abundance”. It is also the name I’ve used for a data-driven afforestation initiative that can only be implemented on the foundations of Section 54 and the UK’s fertile open data infrastructure. We and others in the Open Data movement, have already been able to influence changes in corporate behaviour through strategic use of open data. We can do so to achieve greater afforestation. Simply put, we aim to use the data we have in TISCreport to inform company officers of the potential for afforestation within the land assets of their companies, and enable them to partner with environmental groups willing to plant those saplings using funding available from the Forestry Commission (and others). 

Take a look at the beginnings of our cunning plan:

We want to recruit a steering board for Vana asap, and also need support with data, funding, and campaigning. If you want to get involved and help make it happen, PLEASE get in touch

Hopefully you can see that everything that needs fixing on our beautiful planet is connected. And if we can do this, just imagine what else we, the Bristol Green Capital Partnership, could achieve…

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