Global Canopy is an innovative environmental organization that targets the market forces destroying tropical forests, with a mission to accelerate progress towards a deforestation-free global economy through improved transparency, innovative finance, and strategic communications. Global Canopy launched the annual Forest 500 Report in 2014 following corporate pledges to end deforestation in commodity supply chains by 2020, made by the Consumer Goods Forum in 2010 and in the New York Declaration on Forests in 2014.
As the world faces a climate emergency, putting an end to forest loss is essential, and the main driver is the demand for agricultural commodities. The Forest 500 is made up of 350 companies and 150 financial institutions that are the most influential in forest-risk commodity supply chains. Every other year Global Canopy reviews which companies produce, process, trade, use, or sell the largest amounts of palm oil, soy, beef, leather, timber, and pulp. The largest financiers, across loans, shareholdings, and bond holdings of these companies are then selected.
The 2019 Forest 500 Report finds that despite ambitious commitments to end deforestation in agricultural commodity supply chains by 2020, the lack of any action by almost half of the most influential companies and financial institutions in forest-risk supply chains is preventing sector-wide change.
Report author Sarah Rogerson said: “Many of the world’s best-known brands are complicit in the destruction of tropical forests, which undermines our ability to combat global climate change. They are turning a blind eye to deforestation caused by the demand for the commodities they use and failing to publicly recognize their responsibility to act.”
On average, an area of tropical forest larger than the size of the Netherlands has been lost every year from 2014 to 2018. As forests are cleared for agriculture, more greenhouse gases are emitted annually than are produced in the whole of the EU.
“While some companies have shown real leadership on ending deforestation, overall progress has been painfully slow and this highlights that voluntary commitments by the private sector alone cannot be relied upon to drive change,” said Rogerson.
“The devastating scale and impact of tropical deforestation is evident to all and there is no longer any excuse for companies and institutions to plead ignorance. They have a clear responsibility to eliminate deforestation in their supply chains, and the missed 2020 deadline should spur governments and consumers to increase pressure on them to prove that they are taking real action.”
- 140 (40%) of the most influential companies in forest-risk supply chains still do not have any deforestation commitments.
- 75 (21%) companies have commitments for just one of the commodities they source or produce, but not for the others.
- Of 210 companies with commitments, 100 (or 48%) do not report on progress for all implementation, including Unilever, McDonald’s, Nike, and Vans owner, VF Corp.
- 68% of the 150 financial institutions on the list with the most influence on forest-risk supply chains have no-deforestation commitment.
The Beauty Industry:
- Avon Products Inc. score fell -15% to 40% from 2018 to 2019. The company removed a commitment to engage with non-compliant palm oil suppliers from its Supplier Code of Conduct, and removed commitment on Free, Prior, Informed Consent from its Palm Oil Promise.
- Unilever is on the list of 210 companies on the list with a commitment to deforestation but is not transparent about progress.
Photo: Janusz Maniak via Unsplash