By the end of 2016, more than 400 companies had committed to reduce or eliminate the deforestation embedded in their products. These pledges are an important first step, but the real challenge comes with translating them into action.
The conventional wisdom has been that if consumer-facing companies pledge to ban deforestation from their supply chains, this ambition will somehow trickle down, leading to a shift towards sustainable practices at the frontier of tropical forests. A review of the status of deforestation-related efforts tells a different story.
The broken link between company commitments and reduced deforestation
Last year Climate Focus led an Assessment of progress towards eliminating deforestation from the production of agricultural commodities — Goal 2 of the 2014 New York Declaration on Forests. Cooperating with more than a dozen environmental think tanks, we evaluated the deforestation-related commitments of companies by analyzing data from Supply-Change.org, Forest 500, CDP, and The Sustainability Consortium. The results are sobering: While there is a clear increase in pledges and commitments, few companies have clear time-bound action plans on how to achieve these commitments. Even less have geo-spatial systems to monitor forest impacts of their operations.
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