Corporate action

Background - 8 February, 2011
If corporations have the ability to destroy the world's intact forests, they also have the power to help save them. Greenpeace investigates, exposes and confronts environmental abuse by corporations around the world, and asks its supporters to take action for the planet. This has resulted in the protection of swathes of the world's forests - but there is still a long way to go.

But introducing a Zero Deforestation policy is just the first step. Commitment to forest protection needs to be matched by real changes on the ground, and Indigenous Peoples and impacted communities need to have their rights upheld.  As such, it is critical that any Zero Deforestation policy is transparent, comprehensive and that progress is verified by third parties.  

To assist in this process Greenpeace has developed an example Zero Deforestation policy for companies, based on known best practice to date. It’s key points are that companies should commit to:

  1. No deforestation, degradation or fragmentation of primary forests, areas of High Conservation Value, High Carbon Stock forest areas or peatlands, in both the company’s operations and the supply chain.

  2. Invest in forest restoration initiatives and community development.

  3. Support Indigenous, community and customary rights. No physical relocation or economic displacement without Free, Prior & Informed Consent (FPIC).

  4. Uphold the labor rights of all workers.

  5. Maintain local food security.

  6. Promote responsible agricultural practice as standard, including banning highly toxic, bioaccumlative and persistent pesticides.

  7. Achieve traceability to plantation / farm level for high risk forest commodities, and require maps from suppliers (excluding smallholders)

  8. Undertake transparent 3rd party audits to ensure compliance, including satellite monitoring, and take appropriate action, including terminating supplier relationship, when non-compliance is found.

  9. Report publicly on targets, KPIs, and share maps and verification results, requiring suppliers to do the same.

  10. Work with suppliers, peers, industry groups and governments to support these principles and strengthen certification systems and industry standards such as the Palm Oil Innovation Group.

It's important to note however, the need for regional variation and discretion when applying this policy.  

  • Greenpeace is extremely concerned about the expansion of industrial plantations (including under processes such as HCS approach) in the Congo Basin and West Africa.

  • We support civil society and NGO broader concerns around unfettered industrial plantation expansion and the impact it could have on Indigenous Peoples, communities, and food security.

  • Where activity or occupation has taken place within customary or Indigenous territories that has not followed Free & Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) or other due process, historical wrongs must be resolved prior to the application of this policy.

But if corporations have the ability to destroy the world's intact forests, they also have the power to help save them:

Take the Amazon, which was being devastated by soya plantations and cattle ranching. Greenpeace went undercover for several years to investigate the web of destruction first for Amazon soya and then for Amazon beef and leather - following the supply chain from Amazon forest to multinational food companies, supermarkets and other consumer brands.

We then published our findings in 'Eating up the Amazon' (2006) and 'Slaughtering the Amazon' (2009), naming the companies involved and asking our supporters to put pressure on them to change.

McDonald's came to the Amazon with us to investigate Amazon soya for themselves, then agreed to help get the soya moratorium. For fear of losing their international market, Brazil's major soya traders agreed to a two-year moratorium starting in July 2006. It's still in place and has dramatically decreased the area of the Amazon destroyed for soya.

Within weeks of us releasing our report on Amazon beef and leather, Nike, Adidas, Geox and other leading brands committed stop buying products derived from cows raised on areas of Amazon destruction. Four of the biggest players in the global cattle industry also joined forces to reduce their carbon hoofprint and back our call for zero deforestation.

When we set out to win moratoria on destroying the Amazon for soya and cattle, many said we wanted the impossible. But five years down the line, these moratoria were in place. They still are today.

We have many other stories of corporations taking action to protect forests as a result of Greenpeace supporters making themselves heard. Nestlé, Kraft and Unilever all committed to stop using products that come from Indonesian rainforest destruction - in this case Sinar Mas' palm oil - and cancelled vast contracts with notorious rainforest destroying suppliers.

In Canada, Kimberly-Clark – makers of Kleenex – agreed to one of the world’s strongerst paper policies in response to our five year long Kleercut campaign. Their pressure helped create the space for the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, a vision to protect 72 million hectares of forest (an area twice the size of Germany).

These victories were all won through years of hard-fought campaigning, peaceful direct action and because our supporters put intense pressure on the multinational corporations involved to change their practices. And they listened.