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Danone, Unilever Among 6 Major Companies With Comprehensive Deforestation Policies

Image Credit: Flickr, crustmania

Only six major companies and one investor — Danone, Unilever, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Kao Corp., Reckitt Benckiser Group, and financial services giant HSBC — have comprehensive policies in place to protect tropical forests, according to a new ranking by Global Canopy Programme (GCP).

IKEA, Johnson & Johnson, Mars, PepsiCo and Colgate also ranked highly, although they still have work to do to create more comprehensive policies.

The Forest 500 ranks 250 companies, 150 investors and 50 governments’ efforts to eliminate deforestation from commodity supply chains on a scale of one to five. Together, these 500 control the complex global supply chains of key ‘forest risk commodities’ such as soya, palm oil, beef, leather, timber, pulp and paper that have an annual trade value of more than $100 billion and are found in over 50 percent of packaged products in supermarkets.

At the UN Climate Summit last year, prominent representatives from business, governments, indigenous communities and civil society, signed the landmark New York Declaration on Forests. It spells out ambitious commitments to cut natural deforestation in half by 2020 and end it by 2030. 

The ranking serves as a sobering reminder that, at the current rate of action, the goal of zero deforestation by 2020 will not be met.

At the other end of the scale, 30 companies, many based in Asia and the Middle East, and numerous investors scored zero points in the ranking. Countries received a range of scores, with Latin American nations scoring high in forested regions and the Netherlands and Germany coming top among countries that import forest risk commodities.

On a brighter note, the consumer-facing home care, and cosmetics and personal care industries are shown to perform best, while the animal feed industry lags behind other sectors.

Companies with higher revenues also were score significantly better than those with lower revenues. In particular, once companies surpass annual revenues of $10 billion, policy scores increase sharply, averaging nearly double that of companies below the ten billion threshold.

Publicly listed companies score more than 50 percent higher than privately owned companies and those with other governance structures.

GCP says investors are in a unique position to ensure a rapid transition to a zero deforestation economy, yet most have poorly developed sustainable investment policies. None of the investors assessed have a commitment to overall zero or net zero deforestation for forest risk commodities.

In other forestry news, a recent field-based survey by Rainforest Action Network (RAN) investigating Asia Pulp and Paper’s (APP) performance on fulfilling its social responsibility commitments found little on-the-ground evidence to date that APP is taking sufficient action to resolve land conflict issues.

This week, Code REDD announced the launch of Stand For Trees, the first consumer campaign that uses the power of social media and crowdfunding to enable users to take action to reduce deforestation and curb climate change. Individuals are asked to purchase $10 Stand for Trees certificates, which each prevent one metric ton of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere while protecting threatened ecosystems that sustain forest communities and numerous endangered species.


Based in San Francisco, Mike Hower is a sustainability strategist and storyteller on Edelman's Business + Social Purpose team where he works with some of the world's leading brands on corporate sustainability strategy and stakeholder engagement. With several years of… [Read more about Mike Hower]


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