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Extending the reach of company policies and action on soy

by Helen Burley

Growing awareness that soy production is a major driver of deforestation in Latin America is leading to increased company action, including support for regional initiatives and agreements to tackle soy-related deforestation.

As of March 2018, 61 companies have signed a Statement of Support (SoS) for the Cerrado Manifesto, a non-governmental organisation initiative addressing soy and cattle-related deforestation in the ecologically important Cerrado. This follows the 2006 Soy Moratorium, where companies pledged to stop purchasing soy grown on deforested lands in the Amazon. Combined with stronger law enforcement, this helped reduce deforestation in the region. However, soy-driven deforestation in Latin America is not limited to the Amazon and Cerrado.

A number of companies have also made their own commitments and introduced policies to remove soy-related deforestation from their supply chains.

Each year, Global Canopy’s Forest 500 assesses the most influential powerbrokers in forest risk commodity supply chains for their commitments and policies to address deforestation. Using data from the 2017 Forest 500 assessments, this briefing examines the uptake and scope of forest policies for the 133 companies assessed for soy. It explores company’s support for regional agreements, and provides recommendations on how companies’ soy policies and procurement practices can be improved to more effectively tackle deforestation in soy supply chains.

Read the full report here.

Key findings and recommendations

• Only 21% of companies assessed for soy in the Forest 500 in 2017 had a forest policy for the sustainable production or procurement of soy.

• Companies’ forest policies for soy are typically weaker than policies for other forest risk commodities such as palm oil or timber. They tend to be limited geographically, often restricted to regional agreements and do not span all of a company’s operations.

• Twenty of the Cerrado Manifesto signatories were assessed for their soy production or procurement in the Forest 500 in 2017 (prior to the Cerrado Manifesto release). Half of these companies did not have any prior forest policy for soy, highlighting the potential influence of initiatives such as the Cerrado Manifesto in helping to raise awareness of and drive action to address sustainability issues linked to soy production.

• Only seven companies out of 133 assessed for soy in 2017 as part of Forest 500 had a policy to develop and implement supply chain traceability systems for soy.

• We recommend that companies develop soy policies that protect globally important forests and other types of native vegetation and cover all their operations, suppliers and soy sourcing regions.

• To effectively implement these commitments, companies should commit to supply chain traceability systems to confirm the origin of soy in their supply chains.

• Collaboration with suppliers will help to align goals and design impactful interventions to reduce soy-driven deforestation risks.