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Companies failing on pledges to halt tropical deforestation by 2020

The 2017 annual assessment of the Forest 500 powerbrokers shows the 250 companies with the greatest influence over forests are failing to adequately address deforestation risks.

Press Release

Tuesday 12 December 2017

New data, released today (Tuesday 12 December) shows that the 250 companies with the greatest influence over forests are failing to adequately address deforestation risks, and will not meet 2020 goals to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains.

The Forest 500 annual ranking for 2017 [1] – which marks the halfway point to the New York Declaration on Forests 2020 goal to eliminate deforestation from agricultural supply chains - shows that the biggest powerbrokers in the deforestation economy are acting too slowly to address the risks of tropical deforestation – and that some companies continue to ignore the supply chain impacts on forests [2].

Cattle production is the biggest driver of tropical deforestation, but commitments from companies operating in beef and leather supply chains appear to have stalled, with some companies going backwards - four companies dealing in beef and leather have dropped commitments since Forest 500 began tracking in 2014.

The Forest 500 assesses 250 companies and 150 financial institutions, all selected because they have the greatest influence over forests. They are scored for their commitments to address deforestation in four commodity supply chains: soy, palm oil, cattle, and timber (including pulp and paper) [3].

The 2017 assessment finds that although commitments by companies in timber and palm oil supply chains are growing, very few companies have strong policies for all the commodities in their supply chain. Just 18 companies merit a top score of 5/5. No financial institutions receive the top score.

Only one in five of the companies and financial institutions assessed has a commitment to address all deforestation-risk commodities.

Dr Sarah Lake, Supply Chains Programme Lead at Global Canopy, said:

“This year’s ranking clearly shows that while some leading companies have recognised the importance of tackling deforestation in their supply chains, most have not, and many are taking a piecemeal approach.

“Companies in the cattle sector are performing particularly poorly. Far more can be done to ensure that cattle rearing for beef and leather does not lead to tropical forests being cleared.

“Companies need to develop policies across all their supply chains to ensure forests are protected, and financial institutions need to ensure that their investment policies recognise deforestation risks in their portfolios.”

Overall, the 2017 assessment shows a slow rate of progress with only five companies improving policies enough to increase their score to five out of five. Twenty five companies scored zero.

Progress among financial institutions is also slow, with just 13 financial institutions scoring four out of five, and 65 financial institutions (43%) scoring zero.

The highest scoring companies based on strength of policies across at least three commodities are:

  1. Nestle SA
  2. Mars INC
  3. Marks & Spencer Group plc
  4. Danone
  5. Kellogg Co.



  1. The Forest 500 annual ranking and annual report is published online at on Tuesday 12 December. The Executive Summary and graphs from the report are available at:
  2. The New York Declaration on Forests, signed by 40 countries, 30 companies and 27 financial institutions commits to eliminate deforestation from the production of agricultural commodities by 2020, members of the Consumer Goods Forum have committed to achieve zero net deforestation by 2020, and the global community has committed to halt deforestation and restore degraded forests by 2020 under the Sustainable Development Goals
  3. As well as assessing 250 companies and 150 financial institutions, the Forest 500 also assesses 50 jurisdictions (25 producer countries in tropical forest areas, the 15 largest consumers of forest-risk commodities and 10 subnational jurisdictions where the largest areas of tropical forests are found), and 50 other powerbrokers including multilateral financial institutions, sustainability initiatives and certification schemes that have the power to shape change in the forest-risk sector. Full details of the selection process, assessment methodology, and previous rankings are available at


Companies: The Leaders – 18 companies score 5/5 (new in bold):

Astra Agro Lestari, Colgate-Palmolive Co, Danone, First Resources Ltd., Grupo Andre Maggi, Kao Corp., Kellogg Co., L’Oréal S.A., Marks & Spencer Group PLC., Mars Inc., Neste Oil OYJ, Nestle S.A., News Corp. Orkla Group, Procter & Gamble Co., Sime Darby BHD, Société Financière des Caoutchoucs (SOCFIN), and Unilever PLC.


(L’Oreal scored five because of a change in the way their policies are scored, not as a result of a change in their policies).


25 companies score 0/5


Financial Institutions: The Leaders – 0 financial institutions score 5/5, 13 financial institutions score 4/5:

Banco do Brasil S.A, BNP Paribas, Citigroup Inc, Credit Suisse AG, Deutsche Bank, HSBC Holdings Ltd, ING Groep NV, JP Morgan Chase and Co., Rabobank Nederland, Standard Chartered, The Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS AG, Westpac.

Photo:Neil Palmer (CIAT) via flickr.comcreative commons licence.