Partnerships for transformational change

To achieve the systemic change we want to see, we work with others in the industry and beyond.

palm trees in sunlight

Driving change at scale is crucial

To drive true transformational change in the palm oil industry, we need to go beyond our work with suppliers and own supply chain. That means working on national and global levels with NGOs, governments, industry partners and smallholder farmers to change practices, fight deforestation and make a real impact on the ground.

By forming strategic partnerships, we can access and develop expertise for implementation in the field and secure funding to finance transformation in innovative ways, and at scale. The financial sector is already responding by pledging to support sustainable commodity production through the Banking Environment Initiative.

Commitments such as these have sent a strong signal to the market – and there has been significant movement from growers and traders as a result. Other partnerships, such as with the World Resources Institute and Orbital Insights, offer the use of technology to provide data and insights which are transformational for transparency and traceability.

The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) brings together CEOs and senior management from over 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers and other stakeholders across 70 countries. In 2010, together with other CGF members, we committed to mobilise resources within our business to help achieve zero net deforestation associated with four commodities by 2020: palm oil, soy, paper and board, and beef. We have since extended our commitment to our tea businesses and supply chains.

We know that when we and our peers come together to meet joint commitments, it can create measurable impact.

David Ingram, our Chief Procurement Officer

Partnerships with purpose

Unilever has committed to a jurisdictional approach to projects in four landscapes in Indonesia and Malaysia. This approach sees us aligning our efforts with governments, businesses, NGOs, smallholder farmers and other stakeholders around shared goals of conservation, supply chain sustainability and sustainable economic development. The integrated landscape planning initiatives ensue work on a political level to influence land-use decisions, helping to create transformational change in palm oil production by decoupling deforestation from commodity production.

These are the jurisdictional projects we are supporting:

Unilever & WWF (Sabah, Malaysia)

We’re supporting the WWF Living Landscapes Programme to ‘Produce, Protect and Restore’. The project aims to sustainably certify 60,000 hectares of oil palm plantations in Sabah, Malaysia as part of our wider strategy to achieve a deforestation-free supply chain, reducing emissions and make sustainable palm oil commonplace. 

The programme will include critical work on restoration planting of two wildlife corridors to improve wildlife forest habitats and restore connectivity between fragmented forest blocks. In addition, two riparian reserves will be restored to improve water quality.

Unilever & IDH (Aceh, Indonesia)

Through our partnership with the IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative, we’re helping the Aceh Tamiang Government in Sumatra, Indonesia along with other industry players, accelerate efforts to achieve a successful production-protection inclusion model and Verified Sourcing Area readiness pilot. As part of its collaboration with IDH, the district has committed to increasing its sustainable palm oil yield by 30%. We are exploring investment opportunities in the area to increase sustainable palm oil production while protecting the Leuser Ecosystem.

Unilever & INOBU (Central Kalimantan, Indonesia)

We’re continuing to partner with the provincial government of Central Kalimantan, the district government of Kotawaringin Barat and Seruyan, and Yayasan Penelitian Inovasi Bumi (INOBU) to support a jurisdictional approach for sourcing sustainable palm oil at village level. We are working with the governments to improve the yields and livelihoods of smallholder farmers, in exchange for their support in the fight against deforestation.

Unilever & Conservation International (North Sumatra & Aceh, Indonesia)

In 2019, we teamed up with Conservation International to advance sustainable palm oil production through strengthening a multi-stakeholder initiative known as the Coalition for Sustainable Livelihoods (CSL), as well as through setting up projects to directly support smallholder farmers in our supply chain.

The CSL supports economic development, poverty reduction and natural resource management in the Indonesian provinces of North Sumatra and Aceh. With funding from Unilever, Conservation International is driving action on sustainable landscapes and supporting local government in strengthening forest governance and restoration.