Consumer goods giants plot course to deforestation-free supply chains

Palm oil is estimated to have been the cause of more than 5% of the deforestation to have taken place in tropical forests to date

The roadmap has been produced by members of the Consumer Goods Forum’s (CGF) Forest Positive Coalition of Action. Launched at Climate Week NYC six months ago, the initiative involves corporates that are dependent on forest-related key commodities, including Nestle, Mars, Carrefour and Asia Pulp & Paper.

According to the roadmap, 2021 will be “an integral year” for the initiative. It will see much early-stage work on issues including supplier engagement and education and discussions with policymakers internationally.

The roadmap outlines how Coalition members will use the CGF’s existing “commodity roadmaps” for tackling deforestation to baseline and then measure progress. The tools are designed to help businesses ascertain context-specific measurements based on commodity type, best practice and legislation. Highlighted in the roadmap is the importance of transparency as a level for implementing more sustainable practices in a targeted way.

According to the report, member companies should both improve the management of their own supply chains and be more willing to collaborate externally on shared issues. For example, some may use the same suppliers or need to engage the same national or regional governments. On the in-house work, the report outlines how companies can be quicker and more effective at monitoring suppliers and delivering remediation – potentially by using technologies like satellite imaging.

Recognising that the fight against nature loss and climate change will require nature restoration, as well as the preservation of existing trees and other landscapes, the report also states that member companies will “actively collaborate” to restore habitats in and around their supply chains. Collaborations should be forged with local and international actors, including NGOs.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), agri-food production has been the primary driver of three-quarters of deforestation to date, with deforestation accountable for around 11% of man-made emissions each year. Since the IPCC released this finding in 2019, deforestation is believed to have accelerated in key regions including the Amazon Rainforest – partly because Covid-19 led to reductions in forest patrols and investments.

Companies signing the CGF’s new roadmap are Asia Pulp & Paper, Sinar Mas, Carrefour, Colgate-Palmolive Company, Danone, Essity, General Mills, Grupo Bimbo, Jerónimo Martins, Mars, Incorporated, METRO AG, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Reckitt, Sainsbury’s, Sodexo, Tesco, Unilever and Walmart. 

The CGF has said it will report regularly on the progress of member companies and the Coalition as a whole.

Carrefour’s chief executive Alexandre Bompard said that “trust and accountability” are “the prerequisite to successful action” on deforestation.

Many of the companies involved in the Coalition had joined a previous FMCG industry-wide commitment, co-hosted by the CGF, to eliminate deforestation between 2010 and 2020. This commitment was, ultimately, not met. CDP recorded particularly weak progress in palm oil supply chains.

Science-based targets for nature

In other news on business and biodiversity, Vattenfall has this week joined the coalition of businesses working to help the Science-Based Targets Network (SBTN) to develop science-based targets on nature.

The SBTN has been working to develop such targets for several years. Organisations already involved include Alpro and the Church Commissioners for England – the first involved food business and asset manager respectively.

Vattenfall’s position will be as a member of the Network’s corporate engagement programme. It will assess its value chain impacts and dependencies on nature this year, before modelling what the Network’s frameworks could look like.

The Network has already published preliminary guidance for certain organisations, including cities. Corporate guidance is due soon. There are currently more than 60 companies in the Network’s corporate engagement programme, also including L’Oreal, the Coca-Cola Company, Unilever and Kering.

“Climate change impacts nature loss and vice versa,” Vattenfall’s head of environment Helle Herk-Hansen said.

“Both climate and biodiversity are on top of our agenda and we want to be a part of creating an equitable, fossil-free and nature-positive future. Since we already have a science-based target for climate, it is also natural for us to support the Science-Based Targets for Nature initiative.”  

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Sarah George

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