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Unilever and Reckitt Benckiser come out top in deforestation rankings



Only a small minority of ‘powerbrokers’ that control the global supply chains that drive over half of tropical deforestation are equipped to tackle bold zero deforestation commitments, according the Forest 500 rankings. Among these are UK based Reckitt Benckiser, Unilever and HSBC.

The Global Canopy Programme, which developed the Forest 500, explains that the majority of tropical forest loss and degradation is driven by the production of just a handful of globally traded commodities, including palm oil, soya, beef, leather, timber and pulp and paper. These commodities move along complex supply chains ending up in over 50% of packaged goods in supermarkets worldwide.

Previous research had blamed consumer demand for driving illegal deforestation, and the Global Canopy Programme states, “Through these commodities, we are all part of a hidden deforestation economy.”

The Forest 500 identifies, ranks and tracks 250 companies, 150 investors, 50 jurisdictions and 50 other organisations that together could “virtually eradicate tropical deforestation”. Deforestation and land use change contribute to more than 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, as will as undermining regional water security and threatening the livelihoods of more than a billion people.

Only seven of the Forest 500 scored the maximum number of points – companies Groupe Danone, Kao Corp, Nestle, Procter & Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser, Unilever and bank HSBC. However, 30 companies, mainly based in Asia and the Middle East, and numerous investors failed to score any points.

Mario Rauter, the Global Canopy Programme’s drivers of deforestation programme manager, said, “We are currently all part of a global deforestation economy. Deforestation is in our chocolate and our toothpaste, our animal feed and our textbooks, our buildings and our furniture, our investments and our pensions.

“Our goal with the Forest 500 is to provide precise and actionable information to measure the progress of society to achieve zero deforestation.”

Together the 150 investors included hold more than $1.7 trillion worth of share in the publicly listed Forest 500 companies and “hold a unique position in its potential to contribute to a zero deforestation economy”. However, none of the investors have established a zero or net zero deforestation policy and the report adds, “there is much to be done” in order for the financial sector to reach its potential on addressing the challenge.

Photo: crustmania via Flickr

Further reading:

Ending deforestation would cut global emissions by one-fifth

Fish ‘undernourished and underfed’ due to deforestation, study suggests

Consumer demand drives illegal deforestation – report

Global trade increasingly responsible for deforestation

Pace of deforestation in Amazon continues to increase


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