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Progress by CGF members on zero deforestation commitment

by Tom Bregman

In 2010, the board of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) made a landmark commitment, on behalf of its 400 member companies, to help achieve zero net deforestation by 2020. Because of the significant control CGF members have over sectors exposed to commodities driving deforestation, this commitment was recognised as having the power to transform commodity supply chains.

The progress made by members of the CGF towards internalising this collective commitment is measured in a new report co-authored by the Global Canopy Programme (GCP) and CDP. Using data from the Forest 500, the global rainforest ratings agency run by GCP, and responses to the CDP’s forests program questionnaire in 2015, the report lays out the steps needed to achieve zero deforestation in commodity supply chains and highlights where further action is needed by members of the CGF.

While some CGF members are taking steps to remove deforestation from their goods, many are yet to act.  

Based on 2015 Forest 500 rankings, 14 of the 55 CGF companies assessed have internalised the collective commitment by putting in place zero or zero net deforestation commitments that apply to the procurement of all of the forest risk commodities that they are exposed to*. While this is a small number of companies, it makes up 25% of CGF members - a far greater percentage than the 3% of 195 non-members assessed in the Forest 500 that have made these cross-commodity commitments.

Number of CGF members versus non-members, assessed in the Forest 500, with zero or zero net deforestation commitments.

What is more encouraging in terms of CGF members taking action on deforestation is that they are acknowledging risks in their supply chains. Of those CGF members disclosing to CDP’s forests program in 2015, 89% acknowledge at least one risk associated with their commodity supply chains, with operational and reputational risks being identified most often.

Yet, a host of risks are yet to be realised and reported. For example, despite clear links between deforestation and changing water dynamics in the Amazon, relatively few CGF members acknowledged operational risks in supply chains for soya and cattle, two commodities typically sourced from South America.

Similarly, CGF members assessed in the Forest 500 are less likely to have commodity-specific policies that ensure they are procuring sustainable cattle and soya products than for other commodities that they are exposed to. For example, less than one third of CGF member companies exposed to cattle or soya through their business practices have a cattle or soya specific procurement policy, whereas 79% of members exposed to palm oil have a policy in place.

In addition, while many CGF members have at least one commodity-specific commitment in place, this does not necessarily translate into the sourcing of sustainable, deforestation-free commodities. While nearly three quarters of CGF members with a procurement policy disclosed to CDP's forests program that it impacts the way they engage with suppliers, only 30% of disclosing CGF members actually audit their suppliers.

If we are to move beyond the use of certificates to offset against tropical deforestation, more needs to be done to ensure that suppliers comply with downstream companies’ policies on deforestation-free commodities.

Following the impetus it provided with its 2010 commitment, the CGF can help drive further progress by facilitating lesson-sharing across commodities, and between members on areas in which some companies excel.

To read the full report, please click here.


*The Forest 500 assesses companies based on their policies for the sustainable production and procurement of soya, timber, paper and pulp, palm oil, beef and leather. The commodities that specific CGF members were assessed against can be found at the end of the report.