Partnerships for transformational change

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

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Driving change at scale is crucial

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Of globally traded palm oil is now covered by ‘no deforestation’ policies

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

We want to help lead actions that catalyse large-scale, transformational change across industry sectors. Major producer companies and traders have all committed to 'no deforestation' policies, which now cover over 90% of globally traded palm oil. The financial sector has also responded 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.

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

David Ingram, Chief Procurement Officer

Advancing industry standards

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Of globally produced palm oil is RSPO certified

Certification and assurance schemes have played an important part in driving progress in the industry. We’re a founding member and co-chair of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the not-for-profit, industry-led initiative set up in co-operation with conservation organisation WWF. We're committed to supporting and strengthening its standards, which are uniquely recognised across the palm oil industry.

At the same time, our Sustainable Palm Oil Sourcing Policy goes beyond those standards, in the areas of no deforestation, no development on peat, no exploitation of people or communities, driving positive social and economic impact for smallholders and women while protecting forests and transparency – areas where we think the industry as a whole needs to show more progress.

Safeguard forests. Safeguard our future.

Hannah Hislop

Hannah Hislop is our Global Advocacy and Partnerships Manager.

“Forests are being lost or degraded because of increasing global demand for agricultural commodities. Many people will naturally mourn the loss of majestic forests, and the astonishing biodiversity they harbour, in their own right. But we also fundamentally rely on the ecosystem services they provide, not least water and climate regulation – both of which are vital to global food production.

We know it’s possible to have a world in which protected forests help to sustainably increase food production. But there is no silver bullet solution. We need many complementary approaches that add up to a complete transformation of how we use land.

With better support, skills and financing, smallholder farmers could be helped to dramatically improve their yields and livelihoods – on the condition that they do not encroach further into the forest. And more traditional community management of forests could prevent indigenous people suffering violence or being forced off their lands – and offer a key to curbing carbon emissions too.

Governments have a huge role to play too, as do businesses. They can shift the vast sums of money (around $780 billion) currently flowing into the sectors that drive deforestation towards conservation and restoration instead.”

Meaningful & practical 'no deforestation' policies

What should a 'no deforestation' policy look like − and how should it be put into action? We've been working with grower companies and NGOs to help develop a single set of principles for the implementation of companies’ commitments to no deforestation in their palm oil operations and supply chains.

In November 2016, the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) and the High Carbon Stock Study (HCS+) agreed a set of principles – which are explained in the HCS Approach Toolkit 2.0. We encourage all growers and users of palm oil to adopt this methodology and move to implementation – while recognising that the next big challenges will be to ensure the application of the High Carbon Stock Approach in highly forested landscapes and with smallholder farmers.

Going beyond business: the Tropical Forest Alliance

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Net deforestation by 2020 – the aim of the Tropical Forest Alliance

Company commitments tell only one part of the story. Just as important are the roles of government and civil society. We need to align business action with public policy, through partnership and collaboration.

We helped to create the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA) to promote exactly that. The partnership's goal is to eliminate deforestation from the supply chains of consumer goods companies. TFA’s initial focus is on palm oil, soy, paper and pulp and beef products in South East Asia, Latin America and Africa.

The TFA is one of several public-private partnerships we're involved in, and which we think can achieve real change. For example, we've committed to contribute up to $25 million to the &Green Fund. With a capitalisation goal of $400 million by 2020 and an aim to trigger $1.6 billion in private capital investments, the Fund is an exciting opportunity to jointly shape solutions to mitigate deforestation.

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Fund to combat deforestation

It was set up as a public-private partnership led by the government of Norway, in partnership with IDH the Sustainable Trade Initiative, environmental NGOs and consumer goods companies and announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2017. It’s designed to attract investments in deforestation-free agriculture and aims to protect 5 million hectares of forests and peatlands.

We hope that this can be scaled up and are working to help create replicable models through the Tropical Forest Alliance.

Working with Walmart on a jurisdictional approach

At San Francisco’s Global Action Summit in September 2018, we committed to help sustainably certify 60,000 hectares of palm oil in Sabah, Malaysia as part of a programme led by Forever Sabah, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Malaysia and PONGO Alliance. This will support Sabah’s aim to certify 100% of the state’s palm oil production to Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification by 2025.

Our programme will look to restore land and help up to 300 farmers achieve RSPO certification. It will help our customer Walmart too as we both share an ambition to implement a jurisdictional approach to production and protection. Through Walmart’s Project Gigaton, Walmart seeks to work with its suppliers to reduce emissions from its value chain by a gigaton (a billion metric tons) by 2030. It is developing a new platform to link up suppliers sourcing commodities from regions with deforestation risk to create and support place-based partnerships such as the Sabah project.

Multi-stakeholder initiatives in critical regions are needed to reduce forest loss and degradation, and improve the health and sustainability of the people who depend on forests.

Kathleen McLaughlin, Walmart’s Senior Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer
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