Public pressure for Indonesia's forests works, Ask Unilever

Background - 14 January, 2009
As the biggest single buyer of palm oil in the world, Unilever has a special responsibility to help clean up the industry that's behind so much forest destruction. Thanks to the staggering public support for our international Dove campaign in April 2008, Unilever has now agreed to play their part in saving the Paradise Forests of South East Asia.

How did we get here? 

Watch the video that sparked the change.

Greenpeace's forests campaigners were invited to meet with senior executives at Unilever headquarters on Friday 9 May 2008. In just two weeks the company had received tens of thousands of protest emails from around the world, seen Greenpeace activists bring hoards of news media to their buildings in the UK, Netherlands and Italy, and watched our viral video "Dove Onslaught(er)" take off faster than anything we've ever done before. Public pressure moved them.

The meeting with Unilever was a positive first step by the company, but there is a long way to go to get the bulldozers out of the rainforest.

  • Firstly, Unilever agrees to support an immediate moratorium on deforestation for palm oil in South East Asia.

  • Secondly, the company also agrees to use its leadership role within the industry to "aggressively" build a coalition of companies to support the moratorium. This includes them lobbying all the major players within and outside the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) including the likes of Kraft, Nestle and Cadburys.

  • Thirdly, they agreed to put urgent and substantial pressure to save forests onto their palm oil suppliers on the ground in Indonesia too. Once the suppliers are on board with the moratorium then we have a real chance of stopping rainforest destruction.

  • And finally, Unilever agreed that they would lobby the Indonesian government to support the immediate moratorium.

Not bad for 2 weeks campaigning!

So are we done?

Not nearly. This is the first success in a broader campaign to secure real change on the ground in South East Asia -- to stop the palm oil industry from destroying the Paradise Forests, and ensuring the protection of the climate and a future for orang utans. Greenpeace campaigners will work with Unilever for th next six months (starting May 2008) to bring together a major coalition of companies to make the moratorium a reality. We will see at the end of this period how things are progressing and if we need to change our campaign approach.

If others in the palm oil industry are smart, they'll follow Unilever's lead. There's no excuse for wasting time now, so any industry slow-learners could be our next campaign target. If you haven't joined the Greenpeace mailing list yet, join us now to keep up with our campaigns.