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New Report Outlines Progress Protecting Forests – and Calls for Further Action

November 08, 2016

In September 2014, Cargill endorsed the United Nations’ New York Declaration on Forests, pledging to reduce and eventually end deforestation across our entire agricultural supply chain. The Declaration signaled an important turning point in the global focus on deforestation as governments, companies, indigenous groups and civil society groups committed to take action to protect forests.

A new progress assessment from a group of 12 think tanks and research organizations takes an honest look at what’s happened since, identifying both the progress and the need for more work to be done. The report analyzed 600 companies engaged in the production of the big four globally traded commodities responsible for about 40 percent of deforestation – palm oil, wood, cattle and soy. It found that companies are taking concrete steps to scrutinize their supply chains and there has been a surge in corporate commitments: since December 2015, 108 companies made 212 commitments.

“As part of our commitment to nourishing the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way, Cargill is working across supply chains, like palm and soy, to protect forests and promote farmer livelihoods,” said Dave MacLennan, Chairman and CEO of Cargill. “Collaboration with business, government and civil society is driving momentum to solve the global challenge of deforestation. While the progress is encouraging, there’s still more work to be done. We all need to redouble our efforts to have a lasting impact.”

Last year, Cargill released a global Policy on Forests and Forest Protection Action Plans to chart a course to identify and manage deforestation risk in its supply chains. The company also signed a 2-year partnership with World Resources Institute, one of the organizations behind the progress assessment, to monitor and manage deforestation and water risk across supply chains.

These initiatives build on established programs to build sustainable supply chains for palm oil and soy. At the end of 2015, Cargill reached full traceability to the mill for palm oil in key markets and continues to drive industry progress through traceability, supplier engagement, sustainable plantations, and partnership and collaboration.

This year, Cargill and its partners marked the 10-year anniversary of the Brazilian Soy Moratorium, which has contributed to an 80% decline in deforestation in the Amazon biome. In addition to the Moratorium, Cargill continues to advance other solutions, including the Brazilian government’s Rural Environmental Registry. It also participates in the More Sustainable Soy Project in partnership with The Nature Conservancy; the Coalition Brazil: Climate, Forest and Agriculture; the Soy Working Group; the Soya Plus Program; and other multi-stakeholder initiatives.

Despite these and similar efforts from other companies, the report also cautions that progress on implementation has been mixed and companies need firm support from governments and civil society groups, among others, to realize their plans.

“What we now need, if forests and the climate are to be saved, is action on commodities with the biggest forest impacts, and an increase in partnerships between companies and governments, and among retailers, traders and producers that pool resources to save forests,” said Charlotte Streck, co-founder and director of Climate Focus, a climate change think tank that led development of the report.