Unilever and M&S offer ‘preferential sourcing’ to countries with sustainable forestry policies

Unilever and Marks and Spencer's have announced they will try and source commodities like palm oil, beef, soy and paper from countries and regions with ambitious climate and forestry initiatives, in a joint effort to end global deforestation.

The two firms, which have already made their own deforestation pledges, said that eliminating deforestation on a global scale is “something we need to collaborate on”.

A statement from the duo said: “Governments have an indispensable role to play …. As individual companies we will collaborate with governments on public-private partnerships that support our shared objectives.”

The move is intended to offer market-based rewards for countries with sustainable forestry pledges and encourage others to follow.

Urgent action

The planet loses an average of 3.3 million hectares of forests each year after reforestation is considered.

Roughly half of all tropical deforestation and forest degradation is driven by demand for commodities such as palm oil, beef, soy, pulp and paper, cocoa, and coffee. Greenhouse gas emissions from forests and agriculture already account for approximately one-quarter of all emissions worldwide

To qualify for preferential sourcing, nations must have an INDC, a strategy for how to reduce emissions from forests, and a system for measuring emissions from deforestation.

The two companies are currently the only signatories to the statement, but said they will encourage fellow members of the Consumer Goods Forum to sign up.

Forest day

The statement was made on Tuesday in Paris at COP21 – a day dominated by deforestation pledges.

As well as Prince Charles calling for a global response to deforestation, a coalition of big businesses – including Unilever and APRIL –  announced a plan to stabilize forest cover by 2030 and restore forest cover to 1990 levels by 2050.

APRIL group, one of the world’s largest paper producers, also announced a $100m investment into conservation and restoration practices across Indonesia.

Unilever has been a huge presence at the climate talks in Paris, having pledged to become carbon positive by 2030.

Brad Allen

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