Brands back $1bn fund to improve palm oil supply chain

12 April 2021

An initiative aimed at delivering $1bn of funding to protect forests in Southeast Asia over the next 25 years has been launched.

The private sector-enabled Rimba Collective has been developed by conservation funding enterprise Lestari Capital in collaboration with partners including Nestlé, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble and Wilmar.

It aims to protect and restore more than 500,000 hectares of tropical forest landscapes in Southeast Asia by embedding conservation funding into the palm oil supply chain.

The collective is planning to include more corporate partners and users when it becomes operational at the end of this year.

The initiative’s project portfolio will initially focus on Indonesia, before expanding to projects across Southeast Asia. Projects funded by Rimba Collective will be prioritised based on the potential to protect and restore large, continuous areas of natural ecosystems and critical habitats, such as primary rainforest, peatland and mangroves.

Other priorities include generating measurable ecosystem service benefits such as carbon sequestration, water purification and soil health, as well as resilient livelihoods for local communities. All projects will undergo third-party verification.

Michal Zrust, co-founder of Lestari Capital, said by linking conservation funding directly with company operations, the initiative had the potential to be a game changer for forest protection and restoration.

“It directly complements existing efforts by other groups to build more sustainable palm oil supply chains, and we are offering the opportunity for other major companies in agricultural commodity supply chains to participate,” said Zrust.

Benjamin Ware, global head of sustainable sourcing and climate delivery at Nestlé, said addressing deforestation in the company’s palm oil supply chain was not enough.

“For a lasting and meaningful impact, we are evolving from a no-deforestation strategy to a ‘forest-positive’ one,” he said.

“This means we will buy from suppliers who are actively conserving and restoring forests while promoting sustainable livelihoods and respecting human rights. Our involvement in the Rimba Collective will enable us to speed up our proactive efforts to protect forests and peatlands as well as human rights. It is an important pillar to achieve our commitment to zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”

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