In November 2015, the Forest 500 published its second annual rankings. The results show that while some of the most influential companies, financial institutions, and governments in the race towards a deforestation-free global economy are making progress, the majority still need to adopt and strengthen their relevant policies and practices.
While there has been some overall year-on-year improvement among companies, too many of the 250 companies assessed have yet to put in place strong commitments. The average total score of companies is now 30, compared to 26 out of 100 in 2014. The 2015 results saw 31 companies (12% of those assessed) improve their Forest 500 score, with five companies moving up two scorebands (out of 5). Two companies, McDonalds and Bunge, introduced zero net deforestation policies across all commodities. Yet only 8% of companies assessed have overarching zero or zero net commitment in place. Moreover, 12% continue to have no policies in place across any of their commodity supply chains.
The financial community continues to lag behind on tackling deforestation in their lending and investments. The average score of financial institutions rose from 8 to 14 out of 100 in 2015. 18 financial institutions improved their scoreband (out of 5) by one or more points, with three improving by two points – ATP, Columbia Threadneedle Investments, and Ontario Teachers Pension Plan. In 2015, BNP Paribas became the first financial institution to make a zero net commitment that covers all lending in agricultural commodities. No other financial institutions have zero or zero net policies across all agricultural commodities; nearly a third continue to have no policies at all in place that apply to their investments and lending in agricultural commodities.
No significant progress was found among forest jurisdictions assessed, with the average score rising from 44 to 48 out of 100 in 2015. Colombia, Peru and Brazil continue to lead in terms of the most developed deforestation policies, best deforestation track records and highest scores for governance indicators. No new zero or zero net deforestation policies were established. Liberia remains the only jurisdiction with a nationwide zero deforestation policy. Peru is the only jurisdiction with a zero net deforestation commitment (for primary forest); Argentina, Colombia and Paraguay have made regionally specific zero deforestation commitments; and Brazil’s soy moratorium is the only commodity-specific commitment.
Sub-national jurisdictions also saw little progress, with Para (Brazil), Caquetá (Colombia) and Central Kalimantan (Indonesia) scoring the highest. The average score rose from 39 to 40 out of 100 in 2015. No new zero or zero net deforestation policy commitments were made public. Only three sub-national jurisdictions have zero net policies (Pará), regional policies on forest loss (Caquetá for the Amazon), or commodity-specific deforestation policies (Central Kalimantan for palm oil).
The average score of trading jurisdictions rose from 44 to 47 out of 100, reflecting a lack of meaningful progress on policies by these governments. Germany, the Netherlands and the USA continue to lead in terms of the strongest policies to tackle tropical deforestation, the best track record of action and the highest governance scores. Japan was the only jurisdiction to improve its scoreband from three to four points out of five, but this was due to a slight decrease in the nation’s biocapacity deficit and an increase in its governance ratings, rather than a new policy to directly address tropical deforestation.