In the last few months, I have noticed some buzz around deforestation. About a week ago, 23 major retailers pledged to the “Cerrado Manifesto” organised by WWF-Brazil, TNC, CI-Brazil, Greenpeace Brazil, IPAM (Amazon Environmental Research Institute) and Imaflora (Institute of Agricultural and Forest Management and Certification).  The manifesto aims to protect the Cerrado region of Brazil, which is under threat from land clearing for beef and soy agriculture. This is a problem because it is a biologically diverse part of the world, home to five percent of the world’s biodiversity. Large natural areas such as this are also important carbon sinks, which naturally “breathe in” carbon dioxide instead of leaving it in our already overcrowded atmosphere.

Reducing deforestation is frequently associated as a very social and environmental priority, and it is hard to shake that assumption with the word “forest” in it. But indulge me a moment, because preventing deforestation does have a business case.

Ahold Delhaize NV, Ajinomoto Co, Inc, Carrefour, Colgate-Palmolive Company, Co-operative Group Ltd, ICA Gruppen AB, IKEA Food Services AB, J Sainsburys Plc, Kellogg Company, Lidl UK GmbH, L’Oréal SA, Mars Inc., McDonald’s Corporation, METRO AG, Marks and Spencer Group Plc, Nando’s Chickenland Ltd, Nestlé S.A., Nutreco NV, NorgesGruppen ASA, Tesco Stores Plc, Unilever, Waitrose Ltd, and Walmart Stores, Inc. These are all 23 Cerrado Manifesto signatories. 

Are any of those organisations your current customers? Would you like to sell your products or services to any of these giants?

Add to the list Restaurant Brands International, which has Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes in its portfolio. In June, it promised to eliminate deforestation from its supply chains by 2030. That was in a Thomson Reuters Foundation article from June.

Also add Johnson & Johnson, Arcos Dorados, Firmenich, JBS, Klabin, SSE, which announced in May (via GreenBiz via Business Green), that they had all signed up to CDP’s deforestation supply chain programme to “gather information from key suppliers detailing how they are tackling deforestation risks”. 

Going back to the Cerrado Manifesto companies (which came from a Business Green article, by the way), the director of sustainable business at M&S, Mike Barry, referred to the collectively “huge buying power”, and the intent to send “a significant message to the whole industry”. 

Tackling deforestation starts with a commitment, and quickly moves towards monitoring and tracking suppliers on deforestation. These corporations expect its suppliers to have a strong understanding of the sources of its supply chain, and the associated deforestation risks. 

So if your organisation is a client of any of these corporations, or it wants to be, deforestation needs your attention.

Feeling the urgency? Here are some things you can do:

  • Map out your supply chain and evaluate which areas are more likely to have deforestation risks and impacts.
  • Add some questions about deforestation to all of your supplier questionnaires. Or train up procurement to ask these sorts of questions. Or both!
  • Check out Global Forest Watch and match your supplier’s locations of business with the parts of the world losing forest cover. If they match, inquire.

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