Tracking Corporate Commitment to ‘Zero” Deforestation by 2020

Tropical rainforests are known to be the green lungs of the planet, yet they are constantly being diminished by agri-industries such as palm oil, wood harvesters, soy growers and beef farmers.  At a press conference held at COP22 in Marrakesh, a report back was given of progress on the TFA 2020, with speakers Stephen Donofrio – Senior Advisor to Supply Change ~ an initiative of Forest Trends, Marco Albani – Dir Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (hosted by the World Economic Forum) and Niki Mardas- Exec. Dir of the Global Canopy Program.

The Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 was founded in 2012 at Rio+20 after the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) committed to “zero net deforestation” by 2020 for palm oil, soy, beef, and paper and pulp supply chains in 2010. The CGF partnered with the US government to create the public-private alliance with the mission of mobilising all actors to collaborate in reducing commodity-driven tropical deforestation.

The report finds that there has been an increasing movement from the private sector to reduce the impact of deforestation in tropical rain forests.  Commitments from these industries have grown since 2010 when the first commitments were made,  but the number of committed companies still falls woefully short of the goals set for preventing deforestation of tropical forests by 2020. It seems that although palm oil and wood companies are increasingly signing commitments, the soy and beef industry are much more reluctant to comply.

According to Niki Mardas of GCP, a tropical forest think tank from Oxford UK,  the major hindrance for this goal is corporate supply chain opacity, i.e. lack of corporate responsibility and accountability on the ground.
He explains that researchers have used various technologies to monitor the industries commitment to ending deforestation on the landscape, one method has been to actually observe it by satellite, from the top down, the other has been by conducting data research at ground level.  A new technology, which has caused a breakthrough in this research has been an application called ‘Trase’. (  This technology platform allows for improved data monitoring (actual movement of products on the ground), from the tropical rainforest to the market, thereby allowing problem areas to be identified.

The report’s findings concluded that being better able to assess the movement of products assists greatly in creating better partnerships for preventing deforestation in general, however, in order for the 2020 goals of zero deforestation of tropical rainforests to be reached, more radical transparency needs to be embedded into the system.

Ways and methodologies also have to be found to encourage more commitment from private sector businesses to improve and transform their methodologies and practices, in terms of their tree felling operations, to a more environmentally sustainable business practice.

Links:  Annual Report 2017 ~ TFA 2020   A Vision for Trase 2016 -2020   Forest Trends ~ Supply Change Data Tracking   Global Canopy Programme is a ‘tropical forest think tank




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