BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 11 Feb '15

THE 500 INSTITUTIONS THAT HAVE THE POWER TO END DEFORESTATION BY 2020

Hot on the heels of a year marked by bold zero deforestation commitments, the Global Canopy Programme has launched Forest 500. It’s the first comprehensive ranking of the powerbrokers that control the global supply chains that drive over half of tropical deforestation.

Results show that only a small number of these governments, companies and investors have comprehensive policies in place to protect tropical forests and that, at the current rate, the goal of zero deforestation will not be met.

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Deforestation’s in our toothpaste

‘We are currently all part of a global deforestation economy. Deforestation is in our chocolate and our toothpaste, our animal feed and our textbooks, our buildings and our furniture, our investments and our pensions.

‘Our goal with the Forest 500 is to provide precise and actionable information to measure the progress of society to achieve zero deforestation. Together, these 500 countries, companies and investors have the power to clean up global supply chains and virtually put an end to tropical deforestation.’

Mario Rautner, Programme Manager of the Global Canopy Programme’s Drivers of Deforestation

Drawing on over 40,000 data points from public and private sources, the Global Canopy Programme has identified, assessed and ranked 250 companies (with total annual revenues in excess of $4.5 trillion), 150 investors and lenders, 50 countries and regions and 50 other ‘influential actors’ in this space.

Together, these 500 powerbrokers control the complex global supply chains of key ‘forest risk commodities’ such as soya, palm oil, beef, leather, timber, pulp and paper. Found in 50% of the packaged products in supermarkets, these products have a combined annual trade value of over $100bn.

The rankings

Following assessment against dozens of policy indicators, only seven of the Forest 500 scored the maximum number of points – companies Groupe Danone (France), Kao Corp. (Japan), Nestle S. A. (Switzerland), Procter & Gamble (US) and Reckitt Benckiser Group (UK), Unilever (UK) and banking and financial services giant HSBC (UK).

At the other end of the scale, 30 companies – many based in Asia and the Middle East – and numerous investors scored zero points.

Companies with higher revenues score significantly better than those with lower revenues. In particular, once companies surpass annual revenues of $10bn, policy scores increase sharply – averaging nearly double that of companies below the $10bn threshold.

Deforestation pledges

Deforestation and land use change cause more than 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, undermine regional water security and threaten the livelihoods of more than one billion people around the world.

At the UN Climate Summit last year, prominent representatives from business, governments, indigenous communities and civil society signed the landmark New York Declaration on Forests. It spells out ambitious commitments to cut natural deforestation in half by 2020 and end it by 2030.

A similar pledge to achieve net zero deforestation by 2020 has been made by the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a global association of companies and service providers. The Forest 500 illustrates the progress made by the CGF, whose members achieve an average score that is 80% higher than that of non-member companies.

‘Though the Forest 500 findings highlight that much work needs to be done, the good news is that a number of big players across sectors are demonstrating the leadership that is needed. Putting policies in place is just the necessary first step in addressing tropical deforestation and their implementation will be critical in order to transition to deforestation free supply chains by 2020.’

Mario Rautner, Programme Manager of the Global Canopy Programme’s Drivers of Deforestation

National deforestation goals

The countries included in the Forest 500 represent nearly 90% of the world’s tropical forests and almost 90% of the tropical deforestation that occurred in the last decade. Still, few countries have developed zero or net zero deforestation goals that echo the ambitious goals of the New York Declaration on Forests.

On average, Latin American countries, including Colombia, Brazil and Peru, ranked highest. Countries with lower scores include Madagascar, in part due to its high forest loss between 2000 and 2012, and Nigeria, for its relatively low forest policy and governance scores.

The Forest 500 is a new Global Canopy Programme (GCP) project. To find out more about Forest 500 and the rankings, have a look at forest500.org.