The goal of zero deforestation will not be met unless supply chain policies improve, according to a report.
The Global Canopy Programme’s (GCP) Forest 500 ranks governments, companies and investors for their commitment to removing deforestation from commodity supply chains.
It notes that only a small number have comprehensive policies in place to protect tropical forests, and estimates that at the current rate, a Consumer Goods Forum target of zero deforestation by 2020 will not be met.
The ranking covers institutions whose global supply chains drive over half of tropical deforestation.
The GCP has identified, assessed and ranked 250 companies with total annual revenues of more than US $4.5 trillion (£3 trillion), 150 investors and lenders, 50 countries and regions, and 50 other influential stakeholders.
These institutions control the global supply chains of key “forest risk commodities” such as soya, palm oil, beef, leather, timber, pulp and paper which are worth $100 billion (£65bn) annually, and are found in over 50 per cent of packaged products in supermarkets.
The report concluded that although tropical deforestation is being addressed to varying extents by governments in tropical countries and regions, a more comprehensive approach with support from the most important trade partner countries is needed.
It says that as a group, the 250 companies are falling short of adopting policies to transition to a zero deforestation economy by 2020, but individual organisations are making good progress.
Investors are in a unique position to ensure a rapid transition to a zero deforestation economy, but most have poorly developed sustainable investment policies, the report also concludes.
Only seven scored the maximum number of points: Groupe Danone (France), Kao Corporation (Japan), Nestlé (Switzerland), Procter & Gamble (US), Reckitt Benckiser Group (UK), Unilever (UK) and HSBC (UK).
Thirty companies, many based in Asia and the Middle East, and numerous investors scored zero points in the ranking.
Countries, which are separated in the report into "forest nations" and those that import forest commodities, received a range of scores. Brazil, Colombia and Peru scored highly among forest nations and the Netherlands and Germany came top among countries that import forest risk commodities.
The GCP said that deforestation and land use change cause more than 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, undermine regional water security, and threaten the livelihoods of more than one billion people worldwide.
Mario Rautner, The Global Canopy Programme’s Drivers of Deforestation programme manager, said that the 500 countries, companies and investors represented in the rankings had the power to clean up global supply chains and virtually put an end to tropical deforestation.
“We are currently all part of a global deforestation economy,” he said. “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.”
Targets to cut natural deforestation in half by 2020 and end it by 2030 were set at the UN Climate Summit last year.
A similar pledge to achieve net zero deforestation by 2020 has been made by the Consumer Goods Forum.
Rautner added: “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.”