Forest 500: a new global rating ranks the 500 institutions that have the power to end deforestation by 2020


On 11 February 2015, the Global Canopy Programme’s ‘Forest 500’ launched a ranking system for governments, companies and investors that are winning the commitment race to eliminate deforestation from commodity supply chains. The fight against deforestation is one of the great challenges in the struggle against climate change. This is why companies and major stakeholders need to be involved all around the world.


Irresponsible forest management has harmful effects on the planet. Forests cover 30% of our planet’s land surface. They are home to thousands of animal and plant species, as well as 300 million people. Our planet and its inhabitants need them to survive, as they sequestrate carbon, provide water to local populations, protect against natural disasters (floods, desertification, etc.) and preserve biodiversity. Yet forests are in constant decline. According to the FAO, the equivalent of a football field is lost every two seconds.

All stakeholders – companies, investors, lenders, governments and other influential players – need to take responsibility and exercise it. This is why the Global Canopy Programme (GCP) has rated 500 institutions that have the power to end deforestation by 2020. Based in the United Kingdom, the GCP has been active since 2001. The think-tank is an alliance of 37 scientific institutions in 19 countries around the world. The GCP is working to demonstrate the scientific, political and business case for safeguarding forests as a natural capital that underpins water, food, energy, health and climate security for all. In this video, the GCP sums up its approach:

‘Forest 500 results show that only a small number of players worldwide have comprehensive policies in place to protect tropical forests, and at the current rate the goal of zero deforestation will not be met,’ says the GCP.

Using a rigorous methodology, the Global Canopy Programme drew on over 40,000 data points from public and private sources in order to identify, assess and rank the 500 stakeholders that manage the complex global supply chains of key commodities that threaten forests – namely palm oil, soya, beef, leather, timber, and pulp and paper.

Only seven of the 250 companies assessed scored the maximum number of points: the Danone Group (France), Kao Copr. (Japan), Nestle S. A. (Switzerland), Procter & Gamble (US), the Reckitt Benckiser Group (UK), Unilever (UK) and banking and financial services giant HSBC (UK).

Eliminating deforestation can only be achieved through collective actions

« Danone, the only French company in the ranking, issued a ‘Forests Policy’ a few years ago ». The first results are rolling in. ‘At Danone, we are committed to making the transition to sustainable agriculture and eliminating deforestation from our supply chain by 2020 at the latest. Eliminating deforestation can only be achieved through collective actions in collaboration with our farmers, suppliers and the whole supply chain. This is our approach, for example, as regards palm oil, soya and paper, ‘ says Vincent Crasnier, Nature Director at Danone. ‘Danone welcomes the launch of Forest 500 and is delighted to be recognised for its forest footprint policies. This is the first time the performance of the key players has been independently monitored, and we hope that this encourages everyone to improve,’ he adds.

Recognising that the preservation of forests is critical for the planet and requires the action of all parties involved, Danone has introduced an ambitious strategy to eliminate deforestation impacts from its supply chain by 2020. This ambition covers all paper-based packaging products (used for primary or secondary packaging), palm oil, soya, sugar and timber with a potential negative impact on forest management. It means, for example, aiming at 100% sustainable soya in animal feed by 2020.

‘Our goal with Forest 500 is to provide precise and actionable information to measure the progress of society in achieving zero deforestation.’

Together, these 500 countries, companies and investors have the power to clean up global supply chains and virtually put an end to tropical deforestation,’ says Mario Rautner, the Global Canopy Programme’s Drivers of Deforestation Programme Manager.

In North America and Europe alike, a legal decision has recently been taken outlawing the importation of illegal wood and requiring more effective traceability. It says nothing about the sustainable management of the forests from which legal wood should be sourced, but it is nevertheless a step in the right direction. At international level, there are practically no regulations, and no restrictive international treaty.

In order to succeed, we need to harmonise policies and laws, because the regulations of one policy may sometimes contradict the regulations of another.

Photo: © Aleksander Bolbot


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