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On 22 August 2019 Greenpeace stepped back from an engagement with Wilmar, Unilever and Mondelez to set up a deforestation monitoring platform, over their repeated failure to take necessary action to follow through on their commitments to achieve no deforestation. The engagement to develop the monitoring platform began after the Wilmar, Unilever and Mondelez Joint Statement on 7th December 2018 committing them to deliver a robust, transparent, and independent multi-stakeholder monitoring platform for the palm oil sector.
When the Joint Statement was issued Greenpeace supported it as a potential breakthrough in eliminating deforestation from palm oil supply chains if it was implemented. The Joint Statement came after an intensive period of campaigning in 2018 where Greenpeace exposed the ongoing links to deforestation in company supply chains, including Mondelez (e.g. Oreos & Cadbury), Unilever (e.g. Dove & Magnum) and Wilmar . The climate emergency we face demands immediate and transformative action. As a result, Greenpeace dedicated significant capacity and resources to the discussions on the monitoring platform since it took seriously the calls for collaboration from the companies.
Greenpeace core elements for the platform are and have always been:
- Transparency: a detailed timeline and process for making concession maps and other data available, specifying the types of data, deadline for disclosure and to whom they would be made transparent.
- Group Definitions: clear, standardised indicators for determining whether a specific concession should be treated as part of a larger corporate entity or ‘group’ based minimally on the Accountability Framework Initiative (AFI) definition.
- Steering Group: an appropriate governance body that includes civil society organisations and other stakeholders, with oversight of platform development and implementation.
- Independence: the platform to be hosted by an independent institution in a neutral jurisdiction, free from potential conflicts of interests (such as advisory or advocacy contracts) and following pre-competitive practices.
However, while there was some support for these core elements, the failure to obtain clear agreement on these elements and the entities to deliver them amongst the parties led Greenpeace to step back as it clearly indicated a lack of serious commitment by the companies to having their supply chains deforestation-free as well as no peatland and no exploitation (NDPE) by the end of 2019. Added to this was the weakening of the company’s commitment to implement the High Carbon Stock Approach in their supply chain, as part of the overall failure of the industry to demonstrate it has the capacity and willingness to reform.
We are out of time and desperately need business, political and non-profit leaders willing to collectively and collaboratively act with the courage needed to address the global climate and extinction crises. With melting ice, rising sea levels, climbing temperatures and forests on fire across the planet like in the Brazilian Amazon and Indonesia, Greenpeace remains committed to an immediate end to deforestation associated with commodities such as palm oil. According to the recent IPCC report, land use, including deforestation, makes up 23% of greenhouse gas emissions. Companies such as Wilmar, Unilever and Mondelez must stop buying from any source that is linked to deforestation. We will continue to call on these industries to establish a robust, independent and transparent multi-stakeholder deforestation monitoring platform for the palm oil sector. We must ensure that their commodities are deforestation free, and make them accountable for what they have promised. All companies must refocus and deliver on their commitments to end deforestation by 2020.