Greenpeace and industry leaders announce the ambitious global moratorium on soy from newly deforested Amazon.
Resolute Forest Products has responded to Greenpeace’s Boreal forest campaign with aggressive PR campaigns and multi-million dollar lawsuits. Yet elsewhere, leading corporations have built constructive working relationships with Greenpeace and taken important steps to reform their practices.
Other relationships also began in conflict. But companies who have engaged earnestly attest that Greenpeace can be a supportive and competent ally in helping them tackle their big environmental challenges.
“It was tough for us at the time when Greenpeace launched reports and attacked us and launched boycotts – it was very tough for us. It was hard for us to understand and realise what they said might be true, we were slightly in denial. We were trying to justify what we were doing, but looking back without them doing that we wouldn’t be here. It was important. We publicly say that we thank Greenpeace for their role in helping us change our strategy,” Aida Greenbury, managing director for sustainability at Asia Pulp & Paper, said in a 2013 interview.
Greenbury has called Greenpeace “one of the very, very few NGOs I fully respect, because the people behind it really believe in what they are fighting for. We trust they are helping us achieve what we both want to achieve.”
“Greenpeace has been a vital partner and valued critical friend in the design and delivery of the Forest Conservation Policy since we announced it in 2013,” she explained.
Greenpeace and Kimberly-Clark’s Suhas Apte celebrate victory. Following Greenpeace’s ‘Kleercut’ campaign, Kimberly-Clark announces a sustainability policy that places it as an industry leader.
Suhas Apte, former Vice-President of Sustainability for Kimberly-Clark, the paper-goods giant that produces Kleenex, described Greenpeace campaigners as “very pragmatic and practical people, and as long as you are willing to listen, their whole intention is to see a change happen… as long a they see companies making a genuine effort, these guys will bend over backward to help you.”
“They [Greenpeace] are real subject-matter experts.”
Bob Langhert, the former Vice President of Sustainability for McDonalds, has likewise described in depth the constructive way in which Greenpeace engages its corporate counterparts. “Greenpeace is smart and strategic. Don’t take it as an insult. Accept it as a compliment.”
“I give Greenpeace great credit for its openness to change its tactics with us… Greenpeace’s flexibility and simple approach created progress, and a roadmap of accountability that was easy and cheap.”
The efforts of Greenpeace to engage with McDonald’s were recognized last year by the Keystone Policy Centre, who honoured both organizations with the Leadership in Environment Award for “demonstrating how we are better and stronger when we work together to find common ground.”
Jeff Swartz, CEO of Timberland, credits Greenpeace for his company’s efforts on traceability to clean up links between their manufacturing and deforestation in Brazil. “We’re working really hard on traceability because we got a pull from the consumer… 65,000 Greenpeace people from around the world said ‘we expect more from you’… and so I’m listening.”
Mike Barry, Director of Sustainability for Marks & Spencer, recognized Greenpeace as a key driving force in industry’s voluntary moratorium on soy from areas of recently deforested Brazilian Amazon: “In 2006 Greenpeace campaign ‘Eating up the Amazon’ brought to the world’s attention the devastating impact of soy expansion on the Amazon. It showed the connection between the soybean industry and deforestation. Within weeks the main trade associations declared a moratorium on deforestation, pledging not to buy soy produced on lands deforested after June 2006…”
“Greenpeace provided both on the ground technical support and a watchful eye to ensure the integrity of the arrangement was robustly maintained.”
“They’ve been very trustworthy,” said Bill Weihl, manager of energy efficiency and sustainability at Facebook, of Greenpeace negotiators. “Certainly, when they first started, it was adversarial, but fairly quickly it turned into a productive conversation.”
“We do not know all the answers, we cannot do it all on our own. We have to play at a different level of co-operation… In the past we might not have talked to Greenpeace or WWF, but now we are now on the phone with them every week,” said Paul Polman, Unilever CEO of tackling sustainability targets. “Who will refuse that journey, who will refuse to jump on the train for a better world?”
When asked what advice she’d give to a CEO whose company is the target of a Greenpeace campaign, APP’s Aida Greenbury said: “Embrace your harshest critics… Tackle your most difficult problems head-on… It’s not the time when companies can play greenwashing and hope that the issues will be buried. We have the internet now — full transparency. So stop dancing around with the elephant in the room. Try to find solutions and implement them.”
When will Resolute get on board with forest protection and drop its lawsuits against Greenpeace?