Forests are vital
Tropical rainforests cover 7% of the earth, but contain 50% of global biodiversity. Their ecosystems regulate global water systems and the climate, and they directly support the livelihoods of over a billion people. The social and economic benefits of these services are estimated to be in the trillions.
We are all part of the deforestation economy
Over two thirds of tropical deforestation is driven by the production of a handful of commodities including; palm oil, soya, timber, paper and pulp, beef, and leather. These commodities are in products we use every day and are present in more than 50% of the packaged products in our supermarkets. This makes us all part of a deforestation economy that is responsible for a tenth of global carbon emissions, harms water systems, and undermines livelihoods. But forest risk commodities can be produced sustainably.
The opportunity for change
An increasing number of companies, financial institutions, and governments are acknowledging their role in the deforestation economy and have begun to make public commitments to prevent deforestation in agricultural supply chains. In September 2014, members of governments, companies, indigenous communities and civil society met to sign the New York Declaration on Forests, committing to support the goal to remove deforestation from agricultural production by 2020. This agreement mirrors an earlier pledge by the Consumer Goods Forum, a global alliance of 400 companies, to achieve zero net deforestation supply chains by 2020. Similar commitments have been made within the financial community, most notably through the Banking Environment Initiative. However, while these leaders have acknowledged the reputational, legislative and operational risks posed by deforestation, many have yet to act to ensure the commodities they produce or procure do not contribute to further loss of tropical forests.
The Forest 500
The Forest 500 is the world’s first rainforest rating agency. It identifies and ranks the most influential companies, financial institutions, and governments in the race towards a deforestation-free global economy. By objectively identifying and ranking the 500 powerbrokers that have large-scale influence over forest risk commodity supply chains, the Forest 500 holds companies, financial institutions, and governments accountable for their actions. The results and insights from the Forest 500 indicate shortcomings and gaps in powerbrokers’ commitments, highlighting where greater action is required to achieve overarching deforestation commitments. Specifically, the Forest 500 assesses 250 companies, 150 investors and lenders, 50 jurisdictions, and 50 other powerbrokers, each selected based on their exposure to forest risk commodity supply chains.
The Forest 500 ranking and analysis will be repeated annually until 2020, to help inform, enable and track progress towards deforestation free supply chains. Identification of powerbrokers will be undertaken biannually to ensure the most important companies, investors and jurisdictions are ranked.