Another day, another conference. Lots of suits, lots of speeches but what does any of it mean?

Nine years ago, big brands sat down to talk about the devastation of our forests. They promised to take responsibility and put a stop to the destruction by 2020. But here we are, with just 200 days to go, still seeing forests being decimated. In fact, an area of forest the size of Spain is set to be destroyed in the decade since they promised to end deforestation. It’s time to ask: were those empty promises?

Earlier this year, Greenpeace International wrote to over 50 of the biggest companies asking them where the soya, palm oil, meat, dairy and other commodities they buy come from. Only a few bothered to respond, and none of them could show meaningful attempts to end links to deforestation. All of them source from traders or producers involved in forest destruction, such as Cargill, who has just announced that they will not meet the 2020 deadline.

Cerrado Biome in Brazil. © Fernanda Ligabue / Greenpeace
The Cerrado is the second largest biome in Brazil, occupying 22% of the national territory. Despite being the most biodiverse savannah in the world, more than half of its area has already been destroyed, due to the reckless advance of an agriculture model aimed to produce commodities, such as soy and corn, for export. © Fernanda Ligabue / Greenpeace

Brazil’s Cerrado is a beautiful region; home to thousands of endemic species. Indigenous peoples and traditional communities depend on it for their livelihoods and have bravely fought to protect the Cerrado for centuries, facing violence and threats. But the Cerrado is being wiped out. It is estimated that nearly half of the region’s natural vegetation has already been cleared to make way for soya and cattle farms. And this destruction is just part of the ravaging we’re seeing of forests across the world.’

Agribusiness Rush in the Cerrado, Brazil. © Marizilda Cruppe / Greenpeace
The predatory model of soya production has rushed deforestation in the Cerrado, which is one of the most threatened biomes in Brazil and extremely important for the supply of aquifers throughout Latin America. The agribusiness expansion puts traditional communities and natural resources at risk. © Marizilda Cruppe / Greenpeace

This week, hundreds of executives from the same brands that promised to end deforestation ten years ago met again in the Consumer Goods Forum Summit, in Vancouver, Canada. But tackling deforestation was not even on the agenda. So we decided to pay them a visit. Greenpeace Canada activists crashed their meeting to send a clear message: no more empty promises. We are living in a climate and wildlife emergency with one million species at risk of extinction and people everywhere already being impacted by the climate crisis.

We’ve had enough of companies promising they care about the environment whilst profiting from forest destruction. It’s time to take bold action, put an end to deforestation and start restoring our forests.

The countdown to 2020 has begun. Stand with us and tell companies: change ‘business as usual’ or go extinct.

Juman Kubba is a Forest Campaigner for Greenpeace UK.