- Beef, soy, cocoa and palm oil supply chains will likely miss 2020 goals to substantially decrease deforestation, Cargill CEO Dave MacLennan wrote in an op-ed published Thursday on the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 website.
- Cargill is committing $30 million to accelerate new efforts to address deforestation, beginning with the soy industry in Brazil, MacLennan wrote. The agricultural giant was one of 150 signatories to The New York Declaration on Forests — a pledge to halve global deforestation by 2020 and end it by 2030 — signed by governments, companies, indigenous peoples and civil society organizations at the United Nations Climate Summit in 2014.
- "Despite our collective efforts, industry is poised to fall short of a 2020 goal to eliminate deforestation in key supply chains, including beef, soy and palm oil. That is hard for me to admit – but it is not a reason to stop taking critical action," MacLennan wrote, calling for Cargill and it's competitors to work faster and more collaboratively.
Since 2010, 473 companies have made commitments to rid supply chains of deforestation, according to the Tropical Forest Alliances (TFA) 2018 annual report, which says these commitments have had some effect on the ground in countries where deforestation takes place.
Cargill updated its own internal Forest Policy in February, committing to the goal of a deforestation-free supply chain by 2030.
But corporate commitments are slowing down, TFA reported in June 2018. Cattle and soy, and to a lesser extent palm, are being affected by the slow down. The report suggests that as 2020 approaches, corporations are wary of making signing on to efforts with this deadline.
The main impact of such commitments, explained TFA in its report, is to send a strong signal to the market upstream that big buyers are concerned about deforestation. This effect is most palpable in the palm oil industry in Southeast Asia where commitments are concrete and actionable, and supporters like the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) make sustainable purchasing easier to implement.
But even in that heavily scrutinized industry, strong corporate commitments have not led to the impact stakeholders are hoping for.
"As the implementation of commitments progresses, the limitations of a supply chain approach relying on individual company pledges becomes obvious," reads TFA's June report.
The collaborative approach that MacLennan called for is one element in a strategy beyond corporate pledges and certified deforestation-free supply that is gaining popularity among watchdogs and stakeholders wherein these players invest in on-the-ground work to codify more sustainable practices in local statutes and ensure proper and fair enforcement.
"The soy industry in Brazil has many large and small players," MacLennan wrote. "If Cargill alone takes action, the same practices that exist today will continue. We believe more must be done. Industry, local communities and governments must find and agree upon a shared solution."