Unilever leads sector in addressing deforestation

Unilever has been recognised as a joint sector leader for corporate action on tackling deforestation in CDP’s latest Global Forests Report, published on 11 November.

Working with others to halt deforestation

Unilever was ranked joint first in the Packaged Foods & Meats / Brewers and Soft Drinks sector 2014 in the report entitled ‘Deforestation-free supply chains: from commitments to action’, produced by international NGO CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project).

Cherie Tan, Unilever’s Procurement Operations Director, Sustainable Sourcing said: “We want to transform the way that people, businesses and governments work together to manage natural resources. Our emphasis now is on encouraging suppliers to share our commitment, and on joining efforts with key stakeholders to protect and conserve priority landscapes and improve the livelihoods and yields of smallholder farmers. We are committed to action to halt deforestation and I am delighted that CDP recognises this.”

Combating climate change and protecting natural resources

Global deforestation is driven by demand for agricultural commodities including palm oil, beef, soy, paper and pulp. As well as impacting local ecosystems and livelihoods, deforestation accounts for up to 15% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Unilever is determined to drive deforestation out of our supply chains. At the recent UN Climate Summit in September, we joined dozens of global leaders, companies and NGOs in signing the New York Declaration on Forests, pledging to cut forest loss by half by 2020 and end it by 2030, thereby reducing carbon dioxide emissions by billions of tonnes.

Our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan has set targets to source palm oil, paper and board, meat and soy sustainably.

Increasing the transparency of our supply chain

Also in September, Unilever and the World Resources Institute (WRI) announced a new partnership aimed at increasing transparency in agricultural commodity supply chains. This will enable Unilever and our suppliers to use the Global Forest Watch Commodities platform to monitor forest cover change around commodity supply areas and processing facilities such as palm oil mills.

In addition, Unilever continues to work on transforming the sustainable palm oil industry. On 19 November 2014, we published our Sustainable Palm Oil Progress Report, which highlighted the fact that 58% of our palm oil can now be traced from known sources.

CDP: Tackling deforestation helps 'secure shareholder value'

The CDP report was produced on behalf of 240 investors, who together represent US$15 trillion in assets, and analysed the disclosures of 152 companies from around the world. Leaders were “those companies taking the step from commitment to action,” CDP said, highlighting the importance of ambitious commitments, comprehensive risk assessment, ambitious and specific targets, building capacity in the supply chain, and engaging customers.

Paul Simpson, Chief Executive Officer at CDP, said: “Companies are now securing their supply chain against the risks associated with deforestation and commodity sourcing. This is helping to secure shareholder value. Leading companies are those that are bringing their supply chains with them on this journey.”

CDP’s Global Forests Report and Unilever’s 2014 Forests submission are available on the CDP website.

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