We’ve upped the pressure on one of the big beasts in the corporate jungle, a consultancy firm called McKinsey. Earlier today, I joined a panel of speakers at the Civil Society Policy Forum of the Spring Meeting of the World Bank in Washington DC to talk about McKinsey and how they contribute to forest destruction.

My fellow speakers were Fabian Kesicki from the University College, London, who has written a report on McKinsey which contributed to our work. Patrick Kipalu from the Bank Information Center was also there to talk about how the World Bank should be keeping tabs on this area.  The focus of the panel was entirely McKinsey‘s bad influence on national forest plans.

Among the large and lively audience was Benoît Bosquet, Coordinator of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) at the World Bank.  At the end of the presentations, Mr Bosquet admitted that the concerns over McKinsey’s secrecy about their method were widely shared, noting that ‘the blackbox is a problem for everybody’.  Mr Bosquet also emphasised that forest plans should be informed by good economics – presumably in contrast to the false assumptions and mathematical errors that characterise the ones McKinsey have a hand in.

Conspicuously, there was nobody in the audience who was prepared to defend the McKinsey approach.

In a blog post last week, my colleague Tracy explained why we are taking on McKinsey on the their “contributions” to national forest plans. These guys are at the top of the tree when it comes to advising governments on forests. Check out the report called Bad Influence: How McKinsey-inspired plans lead to rainforest destruction.

It is pretty clear that Bad Influence has already struck a chord internationally.  The French daily La Monde, led the international coverage with the page three headline Mauvais génie de la forêt (‘The Evil Genius of the Forest’).  In Bloomberg, Congolese Environment Minister Jose Endundo confirmed the pervasive influence of McKinsey, acknowledging that the DRC Government had simply ‘adopted the McKinsey scenarios’.  Bad Influence has also brought out other detractors in to the open, including McKinsey’s direct competitors KPMG, who have criticized the McKinsey approach. 

So what are McKinsey thinking? Why haven’t they contacted us since Bad Influence was published and or answered any of the specifics of our criticism?  Given McKinsey’s statement that their ‘credibility depends’ on ‘doing what is right’ rather than ‘what is right for … profitability’, you would think that they might be a bit quicker about responding to our recommendations

It is not too late: McKinsey can make amends, salvage its reputation and help rainforest countries to protect forests and safeguard their economies at the same time.

You can help: please write to McKinsey and ask them to rethink their advice so that it helps to protect the earth’s last remaining rainforests.

REDD, what are we talking about?--Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation programmes – or REDD – are global schemes intended to provide tropical forest nations with financial incentives not to destroy or degrade their forests. The concept of REDD has in some forums been subsequently expanded to also allow for financial support for restoration, reforestation and afforestation activities (i.e. REDD+).

David Ritter is a Biodiversity Campaigner at Greenpeace UK