Can Companies Achieve Zero Deforestation in their Supply Chains by 2020?

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Press Release: Oxford, 23 Sept 2015 – A new research report released today from the Global Canopy Programme highlights the urgent need to create sustainable agricultural commodity markets as a practical solution to halting the destruction of the world’s tropical rainforests.

The report entitled “Achieving Zero (Net) Deforestation Commitments: What it means and how to get there” charts how to realise corporate ‘Zero Deforestation Pledges’[1] and widen global support for them. It examines the deforestation commitments that have been made by hundreds of corporates, the challenges that exist in delivering on these commitments and offers practical recommendations as to how the transition to ‘deforestation free’ global supply chains can be accelerated.

The report finds that, whilst many companies have some kind of policy on deforestation, just 7% have signed up to zero or zero-net deforestation pledges across their supply chains and relatively few investors have any deforestation policies at all.

Jeff Seabright, Chief Sustainability Officer, Unilever says “Businesses globally have a huge opportunity to help avert climate catastrophe by partnering with governments and civil society to drive transformational change. Working together to end unsustainable deforestation from supply chains has the potential to be a game changer, and makes good business sense by building more resilient and equitable supply chains.”

Andrew Mitchell, CEO, Global Canopy Programme says “While companies must act, they cannot do so in isolation. Other influential stakeholders including financial institutions and Governments should play a role in creating the right market conditions that will enable a transition to a world where the production of forest risk commodities in a sustainable way, becomes the norm and not the exception.”

In order to accelerate the implementation of Zero (Net) Deforestation commitments and the creation of sustainable agricultural commodity markets, the main report findings are as follows:

  • Companies need to strengthen key building blocks towards zero deforestation in their policies and operations. Achieving traceability, maintaining social inclusion and environmental integrity, and preventing leakage are four key areas companies need to understand and embed within their implementation strategy towards zero deforestation commitments.
  • Greater transparency and accountability are needed among the key players across sectors and geographies that are driving tropical deforestation. Increasingly available data on forest cover, concessions, trade and corporate policies should be used to provide new insights into corporate impacts and dependence on forests and overall progress towards zero deforestation commitments.   Better linkage between emerging transparency initiatives is required to monitor global progress effectively towards 2020 and 2030 targets
  • Donors and International Finance Institutions (IFIs) should increasingly co-ordinate their support globally, to fill funding gaps in zero deforestation commitments through public-private partnerships.
  • Financial institutions and investors need to develop a better understanding of the deforestation risks that they are exposed to across their portfolios and look to take advantage of the opportunities that exist to support the sustainable production of forest risk commodities.
  • Civil Society should take a more active role in working with market participants and key sectors to stimulate progress. A particular focus should be on organisations that have not yet taken steps to address forest-risk, in order to accelerate uptake and progress in achieving deforestation free global supply chains.

To download a copy of the full report visit…

“Today’s price signal is wrong and the fundamental rules of the game need to be changed to get it right.” Andrew Mitchell said, “Bank credit, taxation, subsidies, tariffs and regulation need to favour commodities traded that are not destroying irreplaceable natural capital like rainforests, and penalise those that are.  That way business case for change will become an irresistible force to which the market will respond globally. This remains the great opportunity over the next decade. Until then, conservation can do little better than King Canute holding back the tide. ”