Consumer Goods Forum will not achieve deforestation goal

Publication / 13 Sep 2019

The recent fires in the Brazilian Amazon have provided a timely reminder of the damage to our climate caused by tropical deforestation. Over the last decade many companies, governments and other organisations have declared their ambition to be deforestation free (or net zero) by 2020. Clearing forests for agricultural commodities is the single largest driver of tropical deforestation, which both contributes to climate change and reduces our ability to mitigate it.

The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), an industry network of consumer goods manufacturers, retailers and other related organisations, announced a deforestation resolution in 2010. On behalf of their 400 members, which include brands such as Mars, Unilever and Amazon, the Consumer Goods Forum committed to mobilise resources to support zero net deforestation in its members’ commodity supply chains by 2020.

The resolution has successfully driven action by some companies and institutions. In the last decade, many organisations have set deforestation commitments, and more collective agreements have been launched, including the New York Declaration on Forests and the Banking Environment Initiative’s Soft Commodities Compact.

However, with the 2020 deadline rapidly approaching, it is clear deforestation will not be eliminated from commodity supply chains in time, and even the leading companies will struggle to be sure that they are deforestation-free. Indeed, research by Greenpeace found that none of the consumer goods companies they contacted could demonstrate deforestation-free sourcing, either because they couldn’t be sure where they were sourcing from, or because their suppliers were still linked to deforestation. Since 2014, the Forest 500 project has identified and ranked the 500 largest powerbrokers in the supply chains linked to global deforestation. Seventy four of these companies are Consumer Goods Forum members and therefore should be working towards the 2020 deadline.

The Forest 500 annual ranking allows an assessment of whether these Consumer Goods Forum member companies have translated the resolution into their own commitments on deforestation – the very first step in removing deforestation from their supply chains. It uses publicly available commitments and reporting to assess company policies as well as the implementation activities the companies are taking to achieve them.

Photo: Area of cleared land, Indonesia, by CIFOR via, creative commons licence

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