Business Progress

BUSINESS PROGRESS

The private sector needs to bolster implementation efforts to stop deforestation and conversion

The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) pledged in 2010 to mobilise its collective resources toward achieving zero net deforestation by 2020, with a focus on four key commodities: soy, palm oil, beef and timber, pulp and paper. Out of this CGF commitment was born the Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA), a multi-stakeholder partnership platform established to support companies through the ongoing global transition to deforestation-free supply chains for several commodities, including those targeted by the CGF. While there have been many commitments from large companies over the years, especially in the two years immediately following the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) endorsement, the rate of increase in these commitments has recently slowed. In addition, and most significantly, the commitments to date have had a limited impact, with deforestation and conversion continuing at alarming levels. It is clear that progress to date related to voluntary business commitments is not enough.

The number of companies making deforestation and conversion-free commitments is reaching a plateau

The Supply Change initiative provides resources for businesses, investors, governments and the civil society organizations that support and hold them accountable,

Forest500 assesses the 500 most influential companies and financial institutions in forest-risk commodity supply chains, focusing on palm oil, soy, cattle and timber products.

The Supply Change initiative provides resources for businesses, investors, governments and the civil society organizations that support and hold them accountable.

Forest500 assesses the 500 most influential companies and financial institutions in forest-risk commodity supply chains, focusing on palm oil, soy, cattle and timber products.

Only 41% of large companies have a commitment and report on it

A number of companies with forest-risk commodities within their supply chains have committed to voluntarily address the issues of deforestation and conversion. These commitments have varied in their scope, from commodity-specific commitments to overall gross or net zero deforestation and/or zero conversion. The schemes deployed to support these commitments have also varied; most company commitments to address commodity-driven deforestation and conversion rely heavily on certification schemes for specific commodities.

Amazon deforestation, Colombia.
© Luis Barreto / WWF-UK

Despite their popularity, many certification systems have largely been insufficient in their own right to address deforestation and conversion at scale. That said, the situation varies widely among the four commodities targeted by the CGF companies. In the beef supply chain, for example, there are no global certification systems to date. Within commodities with one or more certification systems, it is also critical to understand that not all certifications are equivalent – and defining credible certification is a challenge for many commodities along criteria such as the standards used (including limiting or prohibiting conversion, protecting High Conservation Value Areas, and respecting human rights) as well as implementation, reporting and auditing requirements. Even with the use of the most credible certification systems, companies must go further to engage and help bring stakeholders and rights holders together at the landscape/jurisdictional level to pursue landscape governance, planning, and action.

For the companies that have made commitments, there is a clear implementation gap, as only about 46% of assessed companies report on their commitments in the Forest500 best-case scenario, compared to 41% for the Supply Change dataset. Of Supply Change 41%, the average progress in achieving those commitments is just 55%.

A number of companies with forest-risk commodities within their supply chains have committed to voluntarily address the issues of deforestation and conversion. These commitments have varied in their scope, from commodity-specific commitments to overall gross or net zero deforestation and/or zero conversion. The schemes deployed to support these commitments have also varied; most company commitments to address commodity-driven deforestation and conversion rely heavily on certification schemes for specific commodities.

Amazon deforestation, Colombia.
© Luis Barreto / WWF-UK

Despite their popularity, many certification systems have largely been insufficient in their own right to address deforestation and conversion at scale. That said, the situation varies widely among the four commodities targeted by the CGF companies. In the beef supply chain, for example, there are no global certification systems to date. Within commodities with one or more certification systems, it is also critical to understand that not all certifications are equivalent – and defining credible certification is a challenge for many commodities along criteria such as the standards used (including limiting or prohibiting conversion, protecting High Conservation Value Areas, and respecting human rights) as well as implementation, reporting and auditing requirements. Even with the use of the most credible certification systems, companies must go further to engage and help bring stakeholders and rights holders together at the landscape/jurisdictional level to pursue landscape governance, planning, and action. 

For the companies that have made commitments, there is a clear implementation gap, as only about 46% of assessed companies report on their commitments in the Forest500 best-case scenario, compared to 41% for the Supply Change dataset. Of Supply Change 41%, the average progress in achieving those commitments is just 55%.

Conversion is underrepresented in commitments

Both committed volumes and progress made for each commodity is very low compared to estimated global production

COMMITMENTS MOSTLY EMBODIED THROUGH CERTIFICATIONS

Most company commitments to address commodity-driven deforestation and conversion rely heavily on certification schemes. In fact, among companies with deforestation- and conversion-free commitments, 65% to 75% have committed through relevant certification systems.

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Photos and graphics © WWF or used with permission. Text is available under Creative Commons license.

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