Companies in Action
Bunge advances efforts to meet no-deforestation commitments and launches financing mechanisms to incentivize farmers. In 2015, Bunge committed to achieving deforestation-free supply chains by 2025 and has been releasing progress reports on an annual basis ever since. In 2019, the company reported having achieved 91% traceability to direct source farms in areas facing a high risk of deforestation in the Brazilian Cerrado, as well as 100% traceability in Paraguay and Argentina. Among the initiatives that are helping it meet its target is a partnership between Bunge, Banco Santander Brasil S.A. and The Nature Conservancy to develop a financing mechanism to reward soy farmers in Brazil who commit to producing crops without deforesting land or converting native vegetation. Farmers who make these commitments are eligible for loans of up to 10 years, while most loans currently available to soy farmers have terms of a year or less to finance crop costs. This mechanism is part of a broader effort that seeks to promote the growth of the soy market in a sustainable way. Expanding on its work to protect forests, Bunge has committed to shifting its business practices to reduce its use of fresh water, another critical natural resource. Bunge has set a leading example in this area through establishing risk-differentiated water reduction targets--targets that reflect the severity of water stress in a particular region. Bunge has had notable success, reporting in 2019 that the company had reduced its freshwater consumption by 21.2% from 2016 levels, going far beyond the company’s original goal of 10% reduction between 2016 and 2026.
Unilever advances work to achieve zero deforestation in key commodities and invests €1b in conservation efforts. Over the last decade, hundreds of global companies have made public commitments to eliminate deforestation from their operations and extended supply chains. In 2010, consumer products giant Unilever, along with members of the Consumer Good Forum, committed to achieving net-zero deforestation in four commodities, palm oil, soy, paper and beef, a pledge that has since been extended to include tea. By the end of 2019, Unilever reported that 62% of its agricultural raw materials were sourced sustainably. The company has been transparent about the challenges it has faced in achieving this goal, namely overcoming the lack of traceability in its supply chains. Unilever has committed to investing in digital technologies, including satellite monitoring, geolocation tracking and blockchain, to improve the traceability of its supply chain and confirm its products are sourced sustainably. In 2020, the company doubled down on its efforts by committing to zero-deforestation across its entire supply chain by 2023 and establishing the Climate and Nature Fund. The fund will invest €1 billion in initiatives, such as reforestation and carbon sequestration, to counter the effects of deforestation. Both efforts will help the company achieve its ambitious goal of reaching net-zero emissions across its value chain by 2039.
Nestlé makes strides to deliver on its no-deforestation commitment and reports on progress. Along with many consumer products companies, in 2010 Nestlé made a pledge to achieve no-deforestation in its products by 2020. Over time, the company has worked with its suppliers and other stakeholders to realize this vision. In 2019, the company announced that 77% of its top five agricultural commodities (palm oil, pulp and paper, soy, meat and sugar) were verified as deforestation-free compared to 63% in 2018. Nestlé expects to continue to make strides towards its target, estimating 90% of its products will be deforestation-free by the end of 2020. The company has reached this milestone by using a combination of tools, such as supply chain mapping, certification standards, on-the-ground verifications and, and most notably, real-time satellite imagery from the Starling system, a system developed by Nestlé to identify areas at risk of deforestation. The company released a report in 2019 that provided an update on its progress, breaking down the data by commodity and the verification system applied.