Consumer goods giants and retailers have launched another bid to tackle deforestation after falling short of a 2020 goal tabled a decade ago, Just Food reported on 22 September.

Manufacturers including Nestlé, Unilever and Danone, as well as retailers including Walmart, Carrefour and Tesco, had joined the Forest Positive Coalition of Action to try to speed up efforts to ‘remove deforestation, forest degradation and conversion’ in the supply chains of palm oil and soyabeans, as well as paper, pulp and fibre-based packaging.

In 2010, The Consumer Goods Forum had set a target for its members to achieve ‘net deforestation’ by 2020. However, by the summer of 2019, US agribusiness giant Cargill had said it believed the target was unlikely to be met and in October 2019 Nestlé had said it would miss its goal, Just Food reported.

Grant Reid, the president and CEO of Mars and a member of The Consumer Goods Forum, said the companies would take action in four areas.

“We will engage with suppliers and traders and ask that they implement forest positive commandments across their entire commodity operations. Two, we will join forces to address forest conservation challenges in key production landscapes. Three, we will engage governments and stakeholders to create an enabling environment for forest conservation and, four, we will ensure transparency and accountability by regularly reporting on progress,” Reid said.

Wai-Chan Chan from The Consumer Goods Forum said its members had learnt from the work undertaken to try to tackle deforestation over the last decade.

“While many of our members make progress on our 2020 goal to achieve zero net deforestation, we have learned that taking action on individual supply chains alone does not drive the transformation needed to achieve a forest positive future.

“In 2010, our strategy was rooted in remediating individual company supply chains, often through certification, ensuring that the sourcing of key commodities would not deplete tropical rainforests. As a result of the hard work and investments our members have made in their supply chains, we have learned that certification plays a critical role, but it’s not the only answer,” he said.

In other news, reported by AFP on 16 September, a coalition of 230 environmental groups and Brazilian agribusiness companies had sent an open letter to Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro urging him to fight deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

The Brazil Climate, Forests and Agriculture Coalition brought together a group of members ranging from the World Wildlife Fund to global meat processing giant JBS. It also included food giants Danone and Unilever and agribusiness Cargill.

In the letter, the coalition urged Bolsonaro to establish clear policies to ‘immediately and permanently’ address the problem. They included stopping the practice of granting landholder titles to irregularly seized and deforested land going back to 2008.

It had also proposed designating 10M hectares of public forest as protected land.

The letter, dated 15 September, had also been addressed to Vice President Hamilton Mourao, who heads a government task force on fighting Amazon deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.

Deforestation in the region had increased 85.3% in Bolsonaro’s first year in office and had only slightly declined this year, AFP said.