Forest, Land and Agriculture (FLAG)

Guidance for land-intensive sectors

Why take action?

The forest, land and agriculture sector is one of the most affected by the impacts of climate change. But it is also a significant source of emissions. It represents nearly a quarter of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions - the largest emitting sector after energy.

To keep 1.5°C within reach, tackle food crisis risks and enable the transformation to a global net-zero future, cutting land related emissions is paramount.

Many companies with land-intensive operations have committed or set targets through the SBTi. Many are also reporting their GHG emissions publicly. However, few account for land-based emissions or removals in their climate targets or disclosures. A key barrier was the lack of available guidance and methods - until now.

A new methodology

The Forest, Land and Agriculture Science-Based Target-Setting Guidance is the world’s first framework for companies in land-intensive sectors to set science-based targets that include land-based emissions reductions and removals.

The SBTi FLAG Guidance offers a common, robust, science-based understanding on how much and how quickly a company needs to cut its land-related emissions in line with the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

Key requirements of the SBTi FLAG Guidance

  1. Set near-term FLAG science-based targets: 5-10 year emission reduction targets in line with limiting warming to 1.5°C.
  2. Account for removals in near-term FLAG science-based targets: Biogenic CO2 removals include things like restoring natural ecosystems, improving forest management practices, deploying silvopasture, and enhancing soil carbon sequestration on pasture and farmland. Read more on how the FLAG pathways address carbon removals here.
  3. Set long-term FLAG science-based targets: Companies with significant activities in the land and agriculture sectors will reduce at least 72% of emissions by no later than 2050. They should use the SBTi Net-Zero Standard to set long-term FLAG science-based targets.
  4. Zero deforestation targets must be set for no later than 2025: In line with the Accountability Framework initiative (AFi). Read more on how this guidance accounts for land-use change emissions here.
  5. Set science-based targets for fossil emissions: Businesses with land-based emissions are required to set FLAG science-based targets FLAG science-based targets AND energy/industry science-based targets, since all companies produce fossil emissions.

WATCH: Introducing the FLAG guidance - Martha Stevenson

In January and February 2022, the SBTi held a month-long public consultation for external stakeholders and experts in the AFOLU sectors to provide feedback on the SBTi FLAG Guidance. We saw over 1,600 comments from more than 165 organizations.

Acknowledging the comments received, and to inform the development of a clear and robust methodology, we carried out an in-depth review of the guidance.

We launched the SBTi FLAG Guidance and Tool on 28 September 2022.

Since May 1st, 2023, companies are now required to account for their land-based emissions and to set separate FLAG targets if relevant to their activities. Read more on the FLAG project implementation timelines here.

The SBTi, with support from WWF, developed the SBTi FLAG Project to address an important methodology gap. This effort was focused on the development of methods and guidance to enable companies within the food, agriculture, and forest sectors to set science-based targets that include land-related emissions and removals.

The SBTi convened technical experts on the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sector, as well as a corporate consultative group that provided expert advice and direction throughout the development of this project to ensure the criteria and guidance are robust, clear, and practical.

The FLAG Consultative Group consisted of the following:
  • AB InBev
  • Arauco
  • Cargill
  • Danone
  • General Mills
  • IKEA
  • International Paper
  • Kimberly-Clark
  • Klabin
  • Mars
  • McDonald's
  • Nestlé
  • P&G
  • PepsiCo
  • RCL Foods
  • Sodexo
  • Tyson
  • Walmart

Funding for this project was provided by the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation.

The SBTi is temporarily suspending the use of the timber and wood fiber pathway included in the FLAG Target-Setting Tool. This will come into effect on January 15, 2024. While this temporary suspension is in effect, companies in the forest and paper products sectors will be required to use the FLAG Sector pathway to set science-based targets for all land-based emissions, including those related to timber and wood fiber.

See our suspension paper for more information.

Commit to set FLAG science-based targets now.

The next few years are critical in the fight against climate change. The SBTi FLAG Guidance gives companies the opportunity to cut emissions and enhance sinks at the pace required to keep the 1.5°C goal within reach.

Take the lead and commit to setting FLAG science-based targets today.

Join the FLAG mailing list for updates on the guidance and future developments.


The project was completed in September 2022.

Browse more sector guidance

If your sector is not listed here, you can still set a science-based target using our methods and resources. Consult the step-by-step guide to get started.

Sector Status
Aluminum Scoping Phase View
Apparel and footwear Finalized View
Aviation Finalized View
Buildings In Development View
Chemicals In Development View
Cement Finalized View
Financial institutions Finalized View
Forest, Land and Agriculture (FLAG) Finalized View
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Finalized View
Land Transport Finalized View
Maritime Finalized View
Oil and Gas In Development View
Power Finalized View
Steel Finalized View