Fish sandwiches and fossil fuels: Stand Research Group unleashes the power of supply chain research and corporate investigation

Fish sandwiches and fossil fuels: Stand Research Group unleashes the power of supply chain research and corporate investigation

Wednesday April 10, 2019

In our increasingly digitized world, there are few environmentally and socially destructive products that can’t be tracked from production to large branded companies.

By Todd Paglia, Executive Director, Stand.earth

Where does the fish in that perfectly rectangular McDonald’s fish sandwich come from? Is it connected to overfishing in our oceans?  What about the leather in those swanky new shoes? Could it be connected to forest degradation in the Amazon? Or what about the fuel used to power your city’s school bus fleet? Where does that come from?  

In an era when basic facts are disputed in the news media and active campaigns of disinformation flood our social media, asking these types of questions - and getting the right answers - is becoming increasingly important.  And at Stand.earth, these are the types of questions we and our partners are asking and investigating every day. These are the questions at the center of campaigns to shift the way businesses operate, how governments make decisions, and the impacts they have on people and our planet.  

Today, I am very excited to announce Stand’s acquisition of British Columbia-based Borealis Centre for Environment and Trade Research, and the formation of our new research arm, Stand Research Group.

For the past 15 years, the leaders of Borealis have been working with foundation and non-profit partners to unearth the right answers to some of their most pressing questions, to expose dangerous patterns of corporate consumption, and to provide the right tools to interrupt them.

Research performed by Borealis has resulted in more than 100 corporate commitments and contributed toward the protection of more than 20 million acres of wild spaces. It has performed 383 research projects with more than 90 clients, including Amazon Watch, Canopy, Greenpeace, National Wildlife Federation, NRDC, Oceana, Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club, and WWF. 

Since its early days tracking the logging of the last and largest remaining old growth temperate rainforests in North America, the team has direct experience in research related to:

  • Coal, oil and gas, including mining and energy exploration, pipelines, crude oil imports and exports, refinery feedstock and emissions, and strategies to reduce the carbon footprint of corporate fleets

  • Deforestation caused by illegal logging and agricultural commodities such as palm oil, soy, beef, and leather

  • Forest conservation in tropical, temperate and boreal forest regions

  • Ocean ecosystems, including sustainable seafood and illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries

  • Human rights violations caused by mining, fishing, oil and other extractive industries

  • Plastics, including the waste trade and decoupling its production from extreme fossil fuels


In our increasingly digitized world there are few environmentally and socially destructive products that can’t be tracked from production to large branded companies. Stand Research Group is currently accepting requests for fee-for-service projects that can range from scoping exercises to multi-year investigations.  

Stand is happy to be providing this service to our partners, as well as the investors and philanthropists who support them.   Getting the facts - doing deep investigations - and uncovering and sharing the realities of our global systems of production and consumption is what our movement needs to create more power for progressive change.  

If you are already a partner, Stand looks forward to working with you more. If Stand and Stand Research Group are new to you, I invite you to share some of the questions you are exploring.  Stand Research Group is here to provide some of the knowledge and strategic insights to help create breakthrough moments for your campaigns. Please send an email to research@stand.earth.  

Less is often more, but in the case of transparency, more is more. When companies and governments cannot keep things secret, when their choices are made transparent, when the real costs - the people that would be hurt and the places that would be destroyed - are made public...when all of this is combined with powerful campaigns, the world changes.  



We may never be able to explain the shape of those perfectly rectangular fish sandwiches, but we can help provide the right information - the true transparency - that will help create the change our world needs. 

To celebrate the public announcement of Stand.earth’s acquisition of Borealis Centre for Environment and Trade Research, and the formation of our new research arm, Stand Research Group, we hosted a webcast event on April 9, 2019 in partnership with The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, The Tilia Fund, Ivey Foundation, Argosy Foundation, ECHO Foundation, Merck Family Fund, and Lisa & Douglas Goldman Fund. Please contact research@stand.earth if you would like to view this webcast.

For more information about Stand Research Group or to inquire about a potential project, go to stand.earth/stand-research-group/consulting-services