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Cargill Marks Anniversary of No-Deforestation Pledge With New Forest Policy; Greenpeace Wants More

An aerial view of the Gran Chaco forest in Paraguay, which has been ravaged by years of agribusiness. | Image credit: Noah Friedman–Rudovsky

On Wednesday, just a few days from the first anniversary of the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) — an international, multi-sector commitment to safeguard the world’s forests and to help tackle climate change signed by Cargill and other major multinational companies, governments, and civil society organizations at last year’s UN Climate Summit — Cargill released a new Policy on Forests. Backed by forest protection action plans for Cargill’s priority commodity supply chains, the policy sets a comprehensive approach for the company in its efforts to prevent forest loss.

“Deforestation is a global issue, but a local challenge. We’re committed to working with farmers, government, business, advocacy organizations and consumers to help craft and implement solutions tailored to the diverse landscapes we seek to protect,” said Paul Conway, Cargill’s vice chairman. “Our Policy on Forests is one of the ways we are working to feed a growing population while also sustaining vital forest ecosystems for generations to come.”

By signing the NYDF last year, Cargill pledged to do its part to halve deforestation by 2020 and end it completely by 2030. The new policy and action plans go a step further by outlining specific measures that will help the company reach its goal, including:

  • Employing a multi-stakeholder approach, from grower to consumer. Cargill says it will work with customers — to help them meet their goals and timeframes for deforestation-free supply chains — farmers and suppliers, government and civil society organizations to find solutions that allow forests and agriculture to thrive.
  • Evaluating future capital investments based on the policy’s forest protection principles.
  • Continuing efforts to ensure a sustainable palm oil supply chain in Indonesia and Malaysia; the company is on track to meet its commitment of traceability to mill for all the palm it ships by December 31, 2015.
  • Supporting an extension of the Brazilian soy moratorium indefinitely until a viable alternative approach is reached while moving forward with efforts to help implement the Brazilian Forest Code.
  • Continuing to grow a sustainable soy program in Paraguay by mapping its total footprint in the country and working with government and public institutions to fully comply with the existing local forest code.
  • Helping farmers in Zambia adopt best practices in agriculture, where Cargill directly sources cotton and maize from more than 70,000 farmers.
  • Evaluating its strategic sourcing of fiber-based packaging and performing a risk analysis of its corrugated, paper bag and folding carton supply chains.

“We are working to be the most trusted source of sustainable products and services,” Conway said. “We believe healthy agricultural systems, healthy ecosystems and healthy communities are critical elements in sustainably feeding the world.”

Cargill may have a lot more work to do on that front, according to Greenpeace, which indicated that the company’s policy fell short in several areas.

“Last September, Cargill’s CEO Dave MacLennan signed the New York Declaration on Forests and committed to ‘eliminating deforestation from the production of agricultural commodities’ by no later than 2020,” said Matt Daggett, Global Forests Campaign Leader at Greenpeace. “Today’s new policy failed to uphold this commitment by establishing a weak 2030 deadline for most commodities, giving the company another ten years to profit from forest destruction.

“If Cargill is serious about ending its role in deforestation, the company should do two things. First, it must ensure that Brazil’s soy moratorium is renewed, and then, over time, extended to cover more South American rainforests and other biomes that are threatened by the expansion of soy. Second, Cargill must work with other traders to introduce a similar initiative to protect Indonesia’s forests from palm oil and other commodities. Only then will Cargill begin to achieve the ambitious goals it has set for itself.”

 

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