Consumer goods giants plot first steps towards ‘forest-positive’ supply chains by 2030

A coalition of 20 consumer goods businesses, including Unilever, Mars and Nestle, has unveiled a portfolio of forest restoration schemes they will support in the next two years, as part of a commitment to become 'forest-positive' by 2030.

Consumer goods giants plot first steps towards ‘forest-positive’ supply chains by 2030

Image: Mars

The portfolio of projects across Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Russia, Indonesia and Malaysia form part of a new strategy produced by members of the Consumer Goods Forum’s (CGF) Forest Positive Coalition of Action. – an initiative that launched at Climate Week NYC 2020 with the overarching aim of delivering deforestation-free supply chains and reaching a ‘net-positive’ forest impact by 2030.

The Coalition’s corporate members include Carrefour, Sainsbury’s, Sodexo, Tesco, Walmart, Asia Pulp and Paper, Colgate-Palmolive, Essity, Danone, General Mills, Mars, Mondelez International, Nestle, PepsiCo, Unilever, Reckitt and Procter and Gamble (P&G). All participating businesses are dependent on forest-related key commodities such as palm oil, soy, beef and paper and pulp for products and/or packaging.

Building on the 2030 headline commitment and subsequent publication of shared principles and priorities for 2021, the Coalition has today (6 November) launched its strategy plan for the coming years.

The document confirms that the Coalition is currently calculating the extent of its footprint across forest commodities, with support from organisations including 3Keel, WWF, the Nature Conservancy and the Accountability Framework Initiative. This baseline is how the Coalition will determine what is needed to achieve an overall ‘net-positive’ impact. While members are committed to eradicating deforestation from their own supply chains, changes delivered within supply chains and elsewhere will be used in accounting for the 2030 goal.

At the same time, the Coalition has selected 20 forest schemes across six nations which Coalition members will support as part of a “learning phase” through to late 2023. Members are required to invest annually in at least one of the initiatives and learnings from this process will be used to inform future strategizing from the CGF.

All 20 projects operate in landscapes where multiple commodities are produced. The CGF has stated that, as well as delivering positive outcomes for forests, they should improve the livelihoods of local communities, safeguard human rights in a manner that tackles the root cause of societal and environmental issues. At each location, other private sector partnerships and businesses may be involved, as well as community groups and NGOs, with the CGF touting a multi-stakeholder approach.

It is likely that several of the original 20 projects will be scaled post-2023 and that the CGF will also identify other projects to add to the available pool.

The launch of the plans coincides with Nature and Land Use Day at COP26 (6 November). As Principal Partners for the summit – the highest level of corporate sponsorship – Coalition members Reckitt and Unilever have been pressed by youth activists and journalists to accelerate their work on deforestation-free supply chains. Separately, Tesco has been on the receiving end of a high-profile anti-deforestation campaign from Greenpeace over its animal feed supply chains. All CGF members are being called on by Global Witness to accelerate the delivery of no deforestation, no peat and no exploitation commitments. 

Tesco’s chief executive Ken Murphy said: “All of the members of the Forest Positive Coalition of Action are at different stages of their forest positive journey, but we all share the same goal of halting deforestation and supporting the people and communities that call these vital habitats their home.

“The launch of our collective landscape ambition is the output of many months of learning, best-practice sharing and stakeholder engagement. We now look forward to turning these learnings into actions which will have a direct, sustainable impact on the geographies where our commodities are sourced from.”

Forests in the spotlight

Earlier this week at COP26, world leaders representing more than 100 nations, which between them play host to more than 85% of forests globally, committed to end deforestation and land degradation by 2030, and to reverse damage by this time if possible. Crucially, included in the commitment are measures to safeguard the rights of – and improve the livelihoods of – Indigenous communities.

Since then, several high-level announcements on forests have been made. Today, 45 nations have signed on to a new Policy Action Agenda, designed to help policymakers make the necessary changes to deliver a food system that is not only low-carbon and deforestation-free, but that supports farmers and others across the food chain; consumes less water and chemicals and produces less waste.

In the private finance space, the Race to Zero and Race to Resilience campaigns have convened 33 major financial institutions with more than $8.7trn in assets under management in a commitment to stop financing deforestation driven by agricultural commodities by 2025.

And in the corporate space, eight financial institutions and agribusinesses committed to mobilising $3bn to soy and beef production in South America free of deforestation and land-use conversion. A minimum of $200m will be delivered by the start of 2022. This commitment is called the Innovative Finance for the Amazon, Cerrado and Chaco (IFACC) initiative.

Separately, 12 of the world’s biggest global agricultural commodity trading and processing companies, convened by the World Economic Forum, have committed to developing 1.5C-aligned climate targets and stricter nature targets ahead of COP27 in Egypt. Businesses participating in the WEF initiative are ADM, Amaggi, Bunge, Cargill, Golden Agri-Resources, JBS, Louis Dreyfus Company, Olam, Wilmar, Marfig, Viterra and COFCO International. Collectively, these businesses account for more than half of the global palm oil trade and half of Brazilian soy exports.

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from COP26 with edie’s Live Blog. 

Sarah George

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