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New York Declaration companies accelerate away from the pack

by Francesca Ward

New York Declaration of Forests signatories outperform non-signatories by a factor of 3 to 1 and are improving faster too – but a two-tier marketplace will not ultimately stop deforestation.

In late 2014, the landmark New York Declaration on Forests was signed by 109 companies who, alongside key governments, civil society organisations and indigenous peoples groups, laid down a grand ambition: to cut natural forest loss in half by 2020 and end it by 2030. To this end, signatories also pledged to support commitments to remove forest loss from agricultural commodity production, which now drives two-thirds of global deforestation. 

Twenty-one companies assessed by the Forest 500 are signatories to the New York Declaration. Like last year, Forest 500’s rankings for 2015 show that this group continues to outperform non-signatories by a factor of almost three to one. Tellingly, this year’s results also show that signatories are making almost twice as much year-on-year progress as non-signatories in formulating and strengthening their public commitments related to deforestation.

We should perhaps not be surprised that a group of highly-motivated leaders are so decisively outshining their peers. But a two-tier marketplace will not stop deforestation: in the end, it is only when a majority follows in the pathways that these leaders have opened that the bold ambitions set down in New York can be realised.