Consumer Goods Forum: Why not protect the forests now?

by Joao Talocchi

December 13, 2013

Baby orangutans at Orangutan Foundation International Care Center in Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan. Expansion of oil palm plantations is destroying their forest habitat.

© Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace

In 1933, at his inaugural address to the nation as the elected president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.


These powerful words have inspired generations to take bold action in various ways. Now, I hope they will inspire some of the planets largest companies, as Procter & Gamble, Colgate Palmolive and other members of the Consumer Goods Forum* (CGF), to take action to protect rain forests around the world and the incredible biodiversity they support from some players in the Palm Oil industry who insist on destroying forests to make room for plantations.

Forest Destruction in Indonesia

But theres a huge difference in context between 1933 and the present. Back then, the US faced one of the largest crisis the country has ever experienced and people had a lot of reasons to be scared. Fortunately, right now, theres little reason for these companies to be afraid. Especially after Wilmar, the worlds largest palm oil trader, committed to a no deforestation policy .

This means that, if those companies were afraid of a lack of supply of responsible palm oil in the near future, those fears have now been dissipated. (Well, it will depend on Wilmars implementation of its policy, which we will be closely following).

This week weve started a petition to demand the Consumer Goods Forum to ask its members to adopt no deforestation policiesthat will break the link between the palm oil they use and forest destruction, which ends up in the products we buy.

Products with Unsustainable Palm Oil

So, the remaining question to the CGF members is: Why not act now?

Why not act now to avoid the extinction of the last 400 Sumatran Tigers?

Sumatran Tiger

Why not act now to stop greenhouse gas emissions and protect our climate?

Forest Fires in Sumatra

Why not act now to protect the Orangutans home?

Orphaned Orangutan in Sumatra

Why not act now to truly support and empower smallholders and communities that produce palm oil responsibly?

Small-holder Oil Palm Harvest in Sumatra

Why not act now to make sure future generations will be able to enjoy and see tropical forests, which, not only are amazing places, but also:

Are home to half of all living animal and plant species on the planet.

Black-capped Lory in Papua

Control the weather, by pumping millions of liters of water from the ground to the air.

Clouds over Forests in the Amazon

Recycle nutrients, essential for the soil (picture of fungus)

Mushrooms on Tree in Cameroon

Provide food, fibers and medicine to millions of people.

Awane Community Dwelling in Papua New Guinea

And so much more

Amazon Rainforest in Brazil Amazonas Regenwald in Brasilien

Like his cousin, former president Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin was an energetic supporter of nature and has contributed to the expansion of the US National Parks system, which is referenced around the globe as a model for environmental conservation.

Like some of its peers, as Unilever, Nestle and Ferrero, who already made commitments to no deforestation that go beyond the industries weak standards, the other members of the CGF need to follow suit. The CGF has responded to our petitions stating that its current policies and actions already address our demands, but as you can see in our response (bellow)they can do much better than that.

When Franklin Roosevelt addressed the people of the United States, he talked about a restoration, saying:

The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.

We are calling the CGF to lead a restoration of the palm oil industry, one that will guarantee that it continues to provide jobs and opportunity to millions of people in South East Asia and Africa, while protecting the forests, the animals and the climate.

Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This Nation asks for action, and action now. Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

* The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) is a global, industry network, driven by its members. It brings together the CEOs and senior management of over 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers and other stakeholders across 70 countries. Forum member companies have combined sales of EUR 2.5 trillion. It has the mandate to develop common positions on key strategic and operational issues affecting these companies.

Greenpeace response to the CGF

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