The debate continues. Deborah sent me some comments on my original post: “1000 days to go…the six most difficult questions for consumer brands around ‘zero’ deforestation palm oil by 2020” and I asked her if we could run them as a separate post. So here’s her views below, with links to the other pieces and commentary recently published on here.
“Many companies adopted 2020 goals five or six years out, which was an easy target to meet at the time if they had started on implementation immediately.
There is still time to achieve this deadline, but swift action must be taken now.
This means that companies need to start setting red lines and terminating suppliers who refuse to quickly comply, rather than pursuing protracted engagement while deforestation continues.
Failure to meet 2020 deadlines will show that companies are not serious about fulfilling their commitments, and puts the reputation of the whole sector in jeopardy.
On the other hand, there are many times when we’ve stumbled upon information that companies have taken important actions to terminate rogue suppliers and proactively monitor cases, but this information is rarely forthcoming.
Across the board, companies have done a poor job showcasing their own progress, reporting on actions such as suppliers suspended or transformed, and comprehensively explaining their approaches to monitoring their supply chains and ensuring third party compliance.
This lack of transparency leaves the public with the impression that little is being accomplished, even when companies feel they a doing a lot and getting little credit for it. In other words, transparency is not only a means for holding companies accountable, but also a vehicle for companies to demonstrate important progress that is being underutilized.
We fully agree that there are real limits to company by company supply chain implementation, which is why Mighty Earth has been urging the palm oil industry to jointly monitor and police their supply chains, enforce a strict moratorium on deforestation, and set very clear standardized expectations of suppliers and the consequences for non-compliance.
The most successful model for reducing deforestation at record speed was the Brazilian soy moratorium, which is a good testament to the effectiveness of joint action and automatic suspension of violators.
It is untrue that international NGOs are ignoring the growing challenge of how to tackle what we call the “leakage” palm oil markets in Asia, the Middle East, and Russia that are set up to circumvent the No Deforestation market requirements.
For example, Mighty Earth has spent the last two years running campaigns on the Korean palm oil producers Korindo and Posco Daewoo who have been driving massive deforestation in Papua.
Early in the campaign, both companies were expelled from the supply chains of all the major palm oil traders with No Deforestation policies (after, in Korindo’s case, clearing 30,000 hectares in violation of those policies in just two years), and are now presumably selling to the “leakage” markets.
We’ve found other points of leverage focused on their business enterprises around the world, and have succeeded in getting both companies to enact temporary moratoriums on forest clearing (though there is still much to do).
Our partner in Korea, the Korea Federation for Environmental Movements, has begun to create a domestic movement for deforestation-free commodities, and we see the potential for similar partnerships across Asia.
No doubt, the companies that have evaded the No Deforestation transformation all these years are the toughest to take on and require much more long-term capacity and resources.
If NGO’s didn’t have to spend so much time policing company supply chains, it would free us up to really focus our efforts on these rogue actors and challenging markets.
In addition, in order to succeed, this work will require much more engagement from the finance sector which, as noted above, is lagging way behind the marketplace in terms of setting expectations for deforestation-free and exploitation-free production, as rogue actors that are suspended from the marketplace still are finding the financing they need to expand their operations. It is past time for the banking sector, in particular, to stop getting a free pass.”
(above post also links to previous comments from Chris Wille, and Glenn Hurowitz)
Our forthcoming events
- How business can tackle modern slavery and forced labour – 7-8 March 2018 – London
- How business can make smallholder supply chains resilient – 13-14 March 2018 – London
- Can innovation and technology make agriculture sustainable? – 5-6 April 2018 – Washington DC
- How business can tackle deforestation – 18-19 April 2018 – Washington DC
- Sustainable apparel: How brands can transform supply chains – 24-25 April 2018 – Amsterdam