The state of forest-risk supply chains

2 Jun 2020

Global Canopy and our partners at the Stockholm Environment Institute launch the Trase Yearbook 2020

Today the Trase initiative, a partnership between Global Canopy and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), publishes its flagship assessment of the sustainability of global trade in agricultural commodities.

The Trase Yearbook 2020 reveals the commodities, regions, companies and supply chains that are driving tropical deforestation, showing where efforts should be targeted to drive down deforestation linked to the production of key forest-risk commodities such as beef, soy and palm oil.

The data in this year’s Yearbook cover more than half of all global trade in forest-risk commodities, and are now more accessible than ever thanks to Trase’s innovative use of interactive visualizations. New Trase insights included in the Yearbook 2020 include: 

The power to leverage change

The Yearbook underlines that when we talk about the deforestation economy, we are really talking about just a handful of deforestation hotspots, a handful of commodities, and a handful of companies that control enough of the trade to turn the problem around. For example, more than half of the deforestation to make way for soy crops in Brazil in 2018 happened in just 1% of soy-producing municipalities. In Paraguay, the top five beef exporters were associated with 85% of exported deforestation risk. And the deforestation footprint of Brazilian beef exports is more than 1,000 times larger per ton than that of the country’s chicken exports.

Critical gaps in the coverage of zero-deforestation commitments

While the number of major traders committed to deforestation-free supply chains is growing, and some companies are starting to play a leading role in tackling deforestation, they are often selective in terms of where they apply, and to what commodities. This means that some of the fragile areas experiencing the most intensive deforestation, such as the Brazilian Cerrado, have far less protection than the Amazon.

EU importing higher-risk commodities

While China is overall the biggest buyer of the forest-risk commodities examined in the Yearbook, ´the EU member states are frequently buying commodities with a higher relative deforestation risk (i.e. commodities more likely to be produced on newly deforested land). Linked to this, the carbon footprint of Brazilian soy imports by Spain is six times larger per ton than that of China’s imports of the same commodity, when taking into account land conversion, farming practices, transport and processing. 

Helen Bellfield, lead editor of the Yearbook and Trase lead at Global Canopy, says: “When SEI and Global Canopy founded Trase, we aimed to contribute to a step change in the transparency of global forest-risk supply chains. I hope that the coverage of data and analysis included in the Yearbook indicates that that change is happening. The days when commodity buyers and investors were so disconnected from their upstream supply chains that they could not get to grips with deforestation and other sustainability issues are rapidly receding.”

Explore Trase Yearbook 2020 or read the Executive Summary.

Image: Trase by Schema Design 

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