As Climate Week kicks off in New York City this week, the participants all have a larger context in mind: the adoption of the post-2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the global climate negotiations that will be held in Paris later this year. Amid the forward-facing events, Forest Trends' Supply Change project is taking a look back at the past year to see if the private sector endorsers of the 2014 New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) a commitment to halve natural forest loss by 2020 and end it completely by 2030 are following through.
These private sector "endorsers" include 41 mostly consumer-facing companies household names such as Walmart, L'Or้al, Danone, McDonald's, and General Mills whose commitments to reduce the deforestation caused by the palm oil, soy, timber, and cattle they source are profiled on SupplyChange.org. A new report, Firm Commitments: Tracking Company Endorsers of the New York Declaration on Forests, released today tracks endorsers' public sustainability disclosures around these "big four" commodities.
It finds that most companies set their targets, policies and/or milestones around deforestation before endorsing the NYDF, though the creation of the Declaration may have played an encouraging role. Almost all (92%) of endorsing companies have issued their own forest sustainability targets and/or procurement policies, and 56% have publically disclosed their progress. Compared to companies that haven't endorsed the NYDF, endorsers were 60% more likely to explicitly include zero or zero net deforestation in their policies and were also more likely to commit to legality and human rights.
Of the tracked commodities, palm oil reigned supreme. Nine out of 10 endorsing companies buy or sell palm oil and 94% have a public commitment or policy to reduce deforestation risk from their supply chains. Those numbers dropped for the other commodities, with 79% of companies active in timber, 50% in cattle, and 41% in soy making public sustainability commitments. The prevalence of market penetration of related certification schemes may explain these discrepancies. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil certifies 20% of global palm oil production while the Round Table on Responsible Soy reaches just 0.5% of the soy market.
And, for most companies, certification is the starting point, not the endgame.
"Currently, there is no existing large-scale framework to verify that products, processes, or producers do not contribute to the loss of natural forest," the report notes.
If you will be in New York City this week, please join us for two expert discussions around Firm Commitments. The first will be hosted at Hunton & Williams LLC at 10 a.m. today (Wednesday, September 23rd), with speakers from The Climate Group, World Economic Forum, Marks & Spencer, WWF, CDP, the Climate and Land Use Alliance, and Forest Trends. The second will be hosted at the Rainforest Alliance Headquarters at 10 a.m. tomorrow (Thursday, September 24th), with speakers from Rainforest Alliance, CDP, and Forest Trends.
More details about the events and the report itself can be found here (http://forest-trends.org/releases/p/firm-commitments).
And more news about the forest carbon markets is summarized below, so keep reading!