Forests

European supermarkets turn their back on beef linked to Amazon deforestation

EU supermarkets turn their back on beef linked to Amazon deforestation 

In response to surging deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon and a new investigation documenting their ties to deforestation, major supermarket chains in the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands have announced they were dropping Brazilian beef altogether and/or beef products tied to JBS, the world’s largest beef company. 

The move comes following a new investigation by Repórter Brasil in partnership with Mighty Earth that tracked deforestation-linked beef in the Brazilian Amazon and the Pantanal tropical wetlands to European retail store shelves, in the form of beef jerky, corned beef and fresh prime cuts. Mighty Earth alerted the retailers and companies to the deforestation links in advance of publication, resulting in this raft of new announcements. 

UK: See the investigation of Sainbury's and corned beef  

Belgium: See the investigation of Carrefour Belgium and Jack Link’s Beef Jerky 

The Netherlands: See the investigation of Lidl Netherlands and ribeye beef steaks 

The Netherlands: See the investigation of Ahold companies and beef products in Belgium, the Netherlands and US 


Supermarkten in Europa stoppen met Braziliaans rundvlees door aan vleesgigant JBS gelinkte ontbossing 

Supermarkten in Europa stoppen met Braziliaans rundvlees door aan vleesgigant JBS gelinkte ontbossing 

BRUSSELS en WASHINGTON, DC – Als reactie op de groeiende ontbossing in Brazilië en een nieuw onderzoek dat de banden met ontbossing documenteert, hebben supermarktketens in België, Frankrijk, Nederland en het VK vandaag aangekondigd dat ze helemaal stoppen met Braziliaans rundvlees en/of rundvleesproducten die een relatie met JBS hebben, het grootste rundvleesbedrijf ter wereld. 

De maatregel komt na een nieuw onderzoek door Repórter Brasil in samenwerking met Mighty Earth, waarin aan ontbossing gerelateerd rundvlees in de vorm van beef jerky, corned beef en vers vlees naar de schappen van Europese winkels werd gevolgd. Mighty Earth deelde de bevindingen direct met de bedrijven voor de geplande publicatie, resulterend in de aankondigingen van vandaag. 

"Dit is een belangrijk keerpunt omdat meerdere grote supermarkten in Europa duidelijk "nee" tegen Braziliaans rundvlees zeggen omdat ze zich zorgen maken over ontbossing", zegt Nico Muzi, directeur van Mighty Earth Europa. "Dit is geen vage toezegging of een mooie aankondiging die het goed in een persbericht doet. Dit zijn concrete commerciële acties van een aantal van de grootste supermarkten uit Europa om geen rundvlees meer te kopen en verkopen van een bedrijf en een land die te veel beloften hebben gedaan en te weinig resultaten hebben laten zien."  

“Kerst is al vroeg begonnen voor de bossen in het Amazonegebied, de Braziliaanse Cerrado-savanna's en de Pantanal-wetlands,” zegt Muzi.  

De belangrijkste toezeggingen van de Europese supermarkten die vandaag zijn aangekondigd zijn: 

  • Ahold Delhaize - een Nederlands supermarktbedrijf met meer dan 7.000 locaties wereldwijd en een omzet van 75 miljard euro in 2020
  • Albert Heijn (onderdeel van Ahold Delhaize) heeft toegezegd om voor al haar winkels geen rundvlees uit Brazilië meer in te kopen. Het is de grootste supermarktketen van Nederland met meer dan 1.000 winkels en een marktaandeel van 35% in 2020. 
  • Delhaize (onderdeel van Ahold Delhaize) heeft toegezegd om alle producten van Jack Link’s uit haar schappen te verwijderen. Het bedrijf is een van de grootste supermarktketens van België.  
  • Lidl Nederland heeft toegezegd om per januari 2022 te stoppen met de verkoop van al het uit Zuid-Amerika afkomstige rundvlees. Het bedrijf is onderdeel van Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG, een Duitse supermarktketen met meer dan 11.000 winkels wereldwijd en een omzet van meer dan 75 miljard USD
  • Carrefour Belgium heeft toegezegd om te stoppen met de verkoop van Jack Link’s beef jerky en de grotere Carrefour Group heeft toegezegd om beter toezicht te houden in alle landen waar ze actief zijn. Carrefour Group is een Franse multinational met meer dan 15.500 winkels wereldwijd en een omzet van 78.6 miljard euro in 2020. Mighty Earth blijft druk op Carrefour uitoefenen om meer actie in al haar winkels te ondernemen.  
  • Auchan Frankrijk heeft toegezegd om beef jerky-producten die banden met JBS hebben uit haar winkelschappen te verwijderen. Auchan Frankrijk is onderdeel van Auchan Retail International S.A., Een Franse multinational met bijna 2.000 winkels wereldwijd en een omzet van 31.6 miljard euro in 2020
  • Sainsbury’s UK heeft toegezegd om haar eigen merk corned beef volledig uit Brazilië te verwijderen. Sainsbury’s is de op een na grootste supermarktketen uit het VK met een marktaandeel van 16% in de supermarktsector, meer dan 1.400 winkels en een omzet van 32 miljard pond in 2020/21
  • Princes Group heeft aangekondigd dat ze sinds november 2020 geen contracten voor corned beef meer met JBS hebben afgesloten en heeft toegezegd dat ze een nieuw inkoopbeleid voor Braziliaanse materialen hebben waarin onder andere absoluut geen ontbossing toegestaan is. Princes is een internationaal voedings- en drankbedrijf dat is gevestigd in Liverpool met een omzet van 1,5 miljard pond in 2020/21

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Ondernemingsverklaringen over de toezeggingen van vandaag 

ALBERT HEIJN 

“Albert Heijn heeft besloten om te stoppen met de aankoop van rundvlees uit Brazilië voor al haar winkels,” zei een woordvoerder voor Albert Heijn. “Dit omvat zowel eigen merk als A-merken. Albert Heijn zal tijdens de komende maanden samenwerken met onze leveranciers om alle rundvleesproducten uit Brazilië uit te faseren of vervangen.” 

LIDL NEDERLAND 

"Het beschermen van biodiversiteit, inclusief het voorkomen van ontbossing, zijn centrale thema's binnen ons duurzaam inkoopbeleid", zei Renée Bijvoets, Sustainability Manager voor Lidl Nederland. "Gezien het risico van ontbossing dat in verband wordt gebracht met rundvlees van Zuid-Amerikaanse oorsprong hebben we samen met onze leverancier besloten om op zoek te gaan naar alternatieve bronnen. Het resultaat is dat we vanaf januari 2022 geen rundvlees van Zuid-Amerikaanse herkomst meer zullen verkopen als onderdeel van ons vaste assortiment. 

CARREFOUR GROUP 

“Na de ontvangen waarschuwing van Repórter Brasil en Mighty Earth zijn we direct een onderzoek gestart” zegt Geoffroy Gersdorff, Group Director of Merchandise Offer Food and Non-Food van Carrefour Group. “Als gevolg hiervan zal Carrefour stoppen met de verkoop van Jack Link’s beef jerky in Carrefour België en zullen we beter toezicht houden in alle landen waar we actief zijn. Deze commerciële beslissing is genomen binnen het comité voor inkoopregels voor de voedseltransitie van Carrefour. De groep is blij met de inzet van de NGO voor dit gevecht, omdat dialoog en waakzaamheid door iedereen ons in staat stelt om problemen te identificeren en voorgang te boeken.” 

DELHAIZE BELGIË 

“Delhaize zal ervoor zorgen dat alle Jack Link’s beef jerky uit al haar winkels zal worden verwijderd.” zei een woordvoerder voor Delhaize België.  

SAINSBURY’S VK 

“Het verband tussen de veehouderij en de vernietiging van ecosystemen zoals het Amazonegebied, de Cerrado en de Pentanal is een complexe zaak die we extreem serieus nemen. We hebben samen met onze leveranciers en de bredere bedrijfstak een aantal stappen genomen om dit proberen aan te pakken, maar er is niet voldoende voortgang geboekt. We streven er daarom naar om de inkoop voor ons eigen merk corned beef uit Brazilië te verwijderen om ervoor te zorgen dat er onafhankelijk kan worden gecontroleerd dat de oorsprong van het corned beef van Sainsbury vrij van ontbossing en conversie is.” 

AUCHAN FRANKRIJK 

“Auchan zet zich in tegen ontbossing en het kappen in Brazilië en met name in de Cerrado,” zei een woordvoerder van Auchan Frankrijk. “Om dit te ondersteunen, werkt Auchan nauw samen met de Earthworm Foundation, die winkeliers ondersteunt bij de implementatie van een verantwoordelijk inkoopbeleid. Het bedrijf heeft een jaar geleden ook het manifest tegen ontbossing voor sojabonen ondertekend. Momenteel onderzoekt onze kwaliteitsdienst uw informatie. Het product wordt door veel winkeliers en e-bedrijven in Frankrijk verkocht. Auchan kan niet worden aangewezen als een specifieke verkoper van dit product. Om eventuele misverstanden te voorkomen en om aan onze toezeggingen te voldoen, besluit Auchan om het product uit te schappen te halen.” 

PRINCES GROUP 

“Princes heeft sinds november 2020 geen contracten voor corned beef meer met JBS afgesloten. Het corned beef van het Princes-merk dat van JBS is betrokken en is geïdentificeerd door Mighty Earth in de winkelschappen in het VK en Nederland, zijn resten die zijn overgebleven uit het laatste contract.” zei een woordvoerder voor de Princes Group. “Princes neemt het probleem van ontbossing erg serieus en is continu samen met leveranciers bezig om het beheer van de toeleveringsketen te verbeteren, risico's te beperken en voor meer transparantie te zorgen. We hebben onze toeleveringsketen voor corned beef onderzocht en ontwikkelen een nieuw inkoopbeleid voor Braziliaans materiaal waarbij met meerdere factoren rekening wordt gehouden, waaronder traceerbaarheid, risico's, kosten, kwaliteit, feedback van klanten, het beheer van indirecte leveranciers en een toezegging voor nul komma nul ontbossing." 

Check out Mighty Earth’s briefings on Ahold Delhaize, Carrefour, Lidl Netherlands and Sainsbury’s

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CONTACT: 
Joel Finkelstein 

202.285.0113 | [email protected] 


Des supermarchés européens cessent de s'approvisionner en bœuf brésilien en raison de l’implication du géant de la viande JBS dans des pratiques de déforestation

Des supermarchés européens cessent de s'approvisionner en bœuf brésilien en raison de l’implication du géant de la viande JBS dans des pratiques de déforestation. 

BRUXELLES et WASHINGTON, DC — Confrontées à la déforestation galopante au Brésil et en réponse à une nouvelle enquête documentant leurs liens avec la déforestation, des chaînes de supermarchés en Belgique, en France, aux Pays-Bas et au Royaume-Uni ont annoncé aujourd’hui qu’elles abandonnaient complètement leur approvisionnement en bœuf brésilien et/ou en produits à base de bœuf liés à JBS, la plus grande entreprise de viande bovine au monde. 

Ces décisions font suite à une nouvelle enquête menée par Repórter Brasil en partenariat avec Mighty Earth, qui a permis de retracer le parcours de viande de bœuf liée à la déforestation jusque dans les rayonnages de grandes surfaces européennes, sous la forme de bœuf séché, de corned-beef ou de viande fraîche. Le partage par Mighty Earth des résultats de l’enquête, en amont de sa publication, avec les entreprises directement concernées, ont donné lieu aux déclarations d’aujourd’hui. 

« C’est un moment charnière, car plusieurs grandes chaînes de supermarchés en Europe ont catégoriquement dit “non” au bœuf brésilien en raison des problèmes de déforestation », a déclaré Nico Muzi, directeur de Mighty Earth Europe. « Il ne s’agit pas de vagues engagements ou de déclarations pour faire bonne impression dans un communiqué de presse. Ce sont des mesures commerciales concrètes prises par certains des plus grands supermarchés d’Europe pour cesser d’acheter et de vendre de la viande de bœuf provenant d’une entreprise et d’un pays qui ont beaucoup promis et qui ont obtenu si peu de résultats. » 

« C’est Noël avant l’heure pour les forêts d’Amazonie, les savanes du Cerrado brésilien et les zones humides du Pantanal », a ajouté Nico Muzi.  

Les principaux engagements communiqués aujourd’hui par les supermarchés européens sont les suivants : 

  • Ahold Delhaize—une entreprise néerlandaise de grande distribution comptant plus de 7 000 magasins dans le monde et ayant réalisé un chiffre d’affaires de 75 milliards d’euros en 2020. 
  • Albert Heijn (qui est rattaché à Ahold Delhaize) s’est engagé à ne plus s’approvisionner en bœuf brésilien pour l’ensemble de ses magasins. Avec plus de 1 000 points de vente et une part de marché de 35 % en 2020, il s’agit de la plus grande chaîne de supermarchés aux Pays-Bas. 
  • Delhaize (qui est rattaché à Ahold Delhaize) s’est engagé à retirer tous les produits Jack Link's de ses rayons. Cette société est l’une des plus grandes chaînes de supermarchés en Belgique.  
  • Lidl Pays-Bas s’est engagé à ne plus vendre de viande de bœuf d’origine sud-américaine à partir de janvier 2022. L’entreprise est rattachée à Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG, une chaîne de grande distribution allemande qui compte plus de 11 000 points de vente dans le monde et réalise un chiffre d’affaires de plus de 75 milliards de dollars
  • Carrefour Belgique s’est engagé à ne plus vendre de bœuf séché Jack Link’s, et le groupe Carrefour dans son ensemble s’est engagé à renforcer sa surveillance dans tous les pays où il opère. Le groupe Carrefour est une multinationale française qui compte 15 500 magasins dans le monde et dont le chiffre d’affaires s’est élevé à 79 milliards d’euros en 2020. Mighty Earth continue de faire pression sur Carrefour pour que cette mesure soit appliquée à l’ensemble de ses magasins.  
  • Auchan France s’est engagé à retirer des rayons de ses magasins les produits de bœuf séché liés à JBS. Auchan France est rattaché à Auchan Retail International S.A., une multinationale française qui compte 2 000 points de vente dans le monde et a réalisé un chiffre d’affaires de 32 milliards d’euros en 2020
  • Sainsbury’s au Royaume-Uni s’est engagé à cesser la production du corned-beef vendu sous sa propre marque au Brésil. Sainsbury’s est la deuxième plus grande chaîne britannique de supermarchés, occupant une part de marché de 16 %. Elle compte plus de 1 400 points de vente et a réalisé un chiffre d’affaires de 32 milliards de livres sterling en 2020/21
  • Le groupe Princes au Royaume-Uni a annoncé qu’il n’avait pas passé de contrat pour du corned-beef auprès de JBS depuis novembre 2020 et s’est engagé à adopter une nouvelle politique d’approvisionnement zéro déforestation pour les matières premières provenant du Brésil. Princes est une multinationale du secteur alimentaire et des boissons basée à Liverpool. En 2020/21, son chiffre d’affaires s’élevait à 1,5 milliard de livres sterling

L’enquête menée par Repórter Brasil en partenariat avec Mighty Earth a permis de mettre en lumière de multiples exemples de « blanchiment de bétail » : les abattoirs JBS situés dans des zones à faible déforestation comme l’État de São Paulo transforment de la viande de bœuf provenant de bovins élevés et nourris dans des fermes officiellement sanctionnées — et frappées d’embargo — pour déforestation illégale de la forêt amazonienne, ou liées à la destruction de la savane boisée du Cerrado et des zones humides tropicales du Pantanal. 

Avec un chiffre d’affaires annuel de 50 milliards de dollars, JBS est le premier producteur mondial de viande de bœuf. Rien qu’au Brésil, il abat près de 35 000 bovins par jour. En 2017, il a été estimé qu’environ un tiers des exportations bovines de JBS au Brésil provenait de l’Amazonie.  

L’an dernier, l’Amazonie brésilienne a atteint son niveau record de déforestation depuis 15 ans. Les scientifiques estiment que les deux tiers des terres défrichées en Amazonie et dans le Cerrado ont été convertis en pâturages pour le bétail.  

« L’enquête montre que JBS continue de vendre de la viande de bœuf liée à la déforestation, alors qu’il existe en Amérique latine environ 650 millions d’hectares de terres où une production agricole sans déforestation est possible », a poursuivi Nico Muzi. « La bonne nouvelle, c’est que l’Europe ne l’achète plus. Ces mesures commerciales, ainsi que la nouvelle législation européenne destinée à lutter contre la déforestation importée, montrent que l’étau se resserre sur les destructeurs de forêts. » 

« En fait, à en juger par les engagements pris aujourd’hui, il semble que les politiques irresponsables de JBS incitent les principaux supermarchés et détaillants à se détourner non seulement de cette entreprise, mais aussi du bœuf brésilien et même sud-américain en général », a expliqué Nico Muzi. « Si j’étais à la tête d’une autre entreprise de viande bovine de cette région du monde, j’exhorterais JBS à cesser de faire de toute cette zone un paria mondial en raison des problèmes de déforestation. Il y a certainement de nombreuses entreprises en Amérique du Sud qui se comportent bien mieux. » 

En avril dernier, Mighty Earth a publié sa dernière analyse des données relatives à la déforestation, et a constaté que JBS était l’entreprise de viande la moins performante. Au cours des deux dernières années, elle a été liée au défrichement de 100 000 hectares. Près de 75 % de ces défrichements ont eu lieu dans des aires protégées, ce qui les rend potentiellement illégaux au regard de la législation brésilienne. 

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Déclarations des entreprises sur leurs présents engagements 

ALBERT HEIJN 

« Albert Heijn a décidé de ne plus s’approvisionner en viande de bœuf du Brésil pour l’ensemble de ses magasins », a déclaré un porte-parole d’Albert Heijn. « Cette décision concerne aussi bien les produits de marque de distributeur que les autres marques. Albert Heijn travaillera avec ses fournisseurs dans les mois à venir pour éliminer progressivement ou remplacer tous les produits à base de bœuf d’origine brésilienne. » 

LIDL PAYS-BAS 

« La protection de la biodiversité et la lutte contre la déforestation sont au cœur de notre politique d’achat durable », a déclaré Renée Bijvoets, Sustainability Manager pour Lidl, Pays-Bas. « Compte tenu du risque de déforestation lié à la viande de bœuf d’origine sud-américaine, nous avons décidé avec notre fournisseur, de chercher une autre source d’approvisionnement. C’est pourquoi, à partir de janvier 2022, nous ne vendrons plus de viande de bœuf d’origine sud-américaine dans notre assortiment permanent. » 

GROUPE CARREFOUR 

« Après avoir été alertés par Repórter Brasil et Mighty Earth, nous avons immédiatement procédé à une enquête », a déclaré Geoffroy Gersdorff, Group Director of Merchandise Offer Food and Non-Food du groupe Carrefour. « Par conséquent, Carrefour cessera de vendre du bœuf séché Jack Link’s dans ses magasins Carrefour en Belgique et renforcera sa surveillance dans tous les pays où le groupe opère. Cette décision commerciale a été prise au sein du Comité des règles d’achat de Carrefour pour la transition alimentaire. Le Groupe salue l’engagement des ONG dans cette lutte, car le dialogue et la vigilance de tous permettent d’identifier les problèmes et de progresser. » 

DELHAIZE BELGIQUE 

« Delhaize veillera à ce que tout le bœuf séché Jack Link’s soit retiré de l’ensemble de ses magasins », a déclaré un porte-parole de Delhaize Belgique.  

SAINSBURY'S ROYAUME-UNI 

« Le lien entre l’élevage de bétail et la destruction d’écosystèmes comme l’Amazonie, le Cerrado et le Pantanal est un problème complexe, que nous prenons très au sérieux. Avec nos fournisseurs et l’ensemble du secteur, nous avons pris une série de mesures pour résoudre ce problème, mais les progrès sont insuffisants. Nous nous engageons donc à ne plus nous approvisionner au Brésil pour le corned-beef vendu sous notre propre marque, ceci afin de s’assurer que l’origine du corned-beef Sainsbury’s puisse être sans déforestation ni conversion d’écosystèmes et vérifiée de manière indépendante. » 

AUCHAN FRANCE 

« Auchan se mobilise contre la déforestation et le défrichement des écosystèmes au Brésil et notamment dans le Cerrado », a déclaré un porte-parole d’Auchan France. « Afin de soutenir cet effort, Auchan travaille en étroite collaboration avec la Fondation Earthworm qui aide les détaillants à mettre en œuvre une politique d’approvisionnement responsable. En outre, l’entreprise a signé l’an dernier le manifeste contre la déforestation liée au soja. Actuellement, notre service qualité enquête sur les informations que vous nous avez transmises. Ce produit est commercialisé par un grand nombre de détaillants et de sites de e-commerce en France. Aussi, Auchan ne saurait être identifié comme un vendeur spécifique de ce produit. Afin d’éviter tout malentendu et conformément à ses engagements, Auchan a donc décidé de retirer le produit de ses rayons. » 

GROUPE PRINCES 

« Princes n’a pas passé de contrat pour le corned-beef de JBS depuis novembre 2020 ; le corned-beef provenant de JBS vendu sous la marque Princes et repéré par Mighty Earth dans ses rayonnages au Royaume-Uni et aux Pays-Bas correspond au stock résiduel de ce dernier contrat », a déclaré un porte-parole du Groupe Princes. « Princes prend le problème de la déforestation très au sérieux et s’engage constamment auprès de ses fournisseurs pour améliorer la gestion de sa chaîne d’approvisionnement, en atténuer les risques et renforcer sa transparence. Nous avons réexaminé notre chaîne d’approvisionnement en corned-beef et nous sommes en train d’élaborer une nouvelle politique d’approvisionnement en matières premières provenant du Brésil. Cette politique tient compte d’un large éventail de facteurs, dont la traçabilité, le risque, le coût, la qualité, le retour des clients, la gestion des fournisseurs indirects et un engagement zéro déforestation. » 

Check out Mighty Earth’s briefings on Ahold Delhaize, Carrefour, Lidl Netherlands and Sainsbury’s 

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CONTACT : 
Joel Finkelstein 

+1 202.285.0113 | [email protected] 


Supermarkets Across Europe Drop Brazilian Beef Over Deforestation Linked to Meat Giant JBS

Supermarkets Across Europe Drop Brazilian Beef Over Deforestation Linked to Meat Giant JBS 

BRUSSELS and WASHINGTON, DC – In response to surging deforestation in Brazil and a new investigation documenting their ties to deforestation, supermarket chains in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the UK today announced they were dropping Brazilian beef altogether and/or beef products tied to JBS, the world’s largest beef company. 

The move comes following a new investigation by Repórter Brasil in partnership with Mighty Earth that tracked deforestation-linked beef to European retail store shelves, in the form of beef jerky, corned beef and fresh prime cuts. Mighty Earth shared the findings directly with the companies in advance of planned publication, resulting in today’s announcements. 

“This is a watershed moment because several huge supermarkets across Europe are saying an emphatic ‘No!’ to Brazilian beef over deforestation concerns,” said Mighty Earth Europe Director Nico Muzi. “This is not a vague commitment or a nice announcement that looks good in a press release. These are a series of concrete commercial actions taken by some of the biggest supermarkets in Europe to stop buying and selling beef from a company and a country that have made too many promises and have delivered too few results.” 

“Christmas has come early for the forests in the Amazon, the Brazilian Cerrado savannahs and the Pantanal wetlands,” said Muzi.  

The key commitments from Europe-based supermarkets announced today are: 

  • Ahold Delhaize - a Dutch food retail company with over 7,000 locations worldwide and revenue of €75 billion in 2020
  • Albert Heijn (part of Ahold Delhaize) committed to stop sourcing beef from Brazil for all of its stores. It is the largest supermarket chain in the Netherlands, with over 1,000 locations and a market share of 35% in 2020. 
  • Delhaize (part of Ahold Delhaize) committed to removing all Jack Link’s products from its shelves. The company is one of the largest supermarket chains in Belgium.  
  • Lidl Netherlands committed to stop selling all beef with South American origin as of January 2022. The company is part of Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG, a German retailer chain with over 11,000 locations worldwide and revenue of over USD$75 billion
  • Carrefour Belgium committed to stop selling Jack Link’s Beef Jerky in Belgium, and the larger Carrefour Group committed to increasing surveillance in all operating countries. Carrefour Group is a French multinational with 15,500 stores worldwide and revenue of €79 billion in 2020. Mighty Earth is continuing to press Carrefour for broader action across all its stores.  
  • Auchan France committed to removing beef jerky products tied to JBS from its store shelves. Auchan France is part of Auchan Retail International S.A., a French multinational with almost 2,000 locations worldwide and revenue of €32 billion in 2020
  • Sainsbury’s UK committed to moving its own brand corned beef away from Brazil entirely. Sainsbury’s is the second largest chain of supermarkets in the UK, with a 16% share of the supermarket sector, over 1,400 locations and £32 billion in sales in 2020/21
  • Princes Group announced it has not placed a contract for corned beef from JBS since November 2020 and committed to a new sourcing policy for Brazilian material that includes zero deforestation. Princes is an international food and drink company based in Liverpool in the UK with £1.5 billion in revenue in 2020/21. 

The research by Repórter Brasil in partnership with Mighty Earth found multiple examples of “cattle laundering” – beef processed by JBS at its slaughterhouses in low-deforestation areas such as São Paulo, but sourced from cattle raised and fed on farms officially sanctioned – and embargoed – for illegal deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, or tied to destruction of the Cerrado woody savannah and the Pantanal tropical wetlands. 

With annual revenues of $50 billion, JBS is the world’s largest producer of beef – slaughtering almost 35,000 cattle a day in Brazil alone. In 2017, about a third of JBS’s beef exports from Brazil are assessed to have come from the Amazon.  

In the past year, the Brazilian Amazon has seen the worst deforestation levels in 15 years. Scientists estimate two-thirds of cleared land in the Amazon and the Cerrado has been converted to cattle pasture.  

“The new research shows JBS continues to sell beef linked to deforestation, even though there are around 650 million hectares of land in Latin America where deforestation-free agricultural production is possible,” said Muzi. “The big news is that Europe is not buying it now. These commercial actions as well as new EU legislation to stamp out imported deforestation, show that the grip is tightening on forest destroyers.” 

“In fact, based on today’s commitments, it looks like JBS’s irresponsible practices are causing major supermarkets and retailers to turn away not just from this one company, but from Brazil-sourced and even South American-sourced beef in general,” said Muzi. “If I was another beef company from that part of the world, I would urge JBS to stop making their entire region a deforestation-linked global pariah. Certainly, there are many companies in South America that do better.” 

This past April, Mighty Earth released its newest analysis of deforestation data, which found that JBS was the worst-performing meatpacker. It has been linked to 100,000 hectares of clearance the past two years. Some 75 percent of this clearance occurred in protected areas, making it potentially illegal under Brazilian law. 

Corporate Statements on Today’s Commitments 

ALBERT HEIJN 

“Albert Heijn has decided to stop sourcing beef from Brazil for all of its stores,” said a spokesperson for Albert Heijn. “This includes private label as well as branded products. Albert Heijn will be working with our suppliers in the coming months to phase out or replace all beef products of Brazilian origin.” 

LIDL NETHERLANDS 

“Protecting biodiversity, including preventing deforestation, are central themes within our sustainable purchasing policy,” said Renée Bijvoets, Sustainability Manager for for Lidl Netherlands. “Given the risk of deforestation linked to beef with South-American origin, we have decided together with our supplier to look for alternative sourcing. The result is that from January 2022 onwards we will not sell beef with South-American origin in our fixed assortment.” 

CARREFOUR GROUP 

“Following the alert received by Repórter Brasil and Mighty Earth, we conducted an immediate investigation,” said Geoffroy Gersdorff, Group Director of Merchandise Offer Food and Non-Food of Carrefour Group. “As a consequence, Carrefour will stop selling Jack Link’s beef jerky in Carrefour Belgium and will increase its surveillance in all its operating countries. This commercial decision was taken within Carrefour’s Committee on purchasing rules for the food transition. The Group salutes the NGO's commitment to this fight, as dialogue and vigilance on the part of everyone allows us to identify problems and make progress.” 

DELHAIZE BELGIUM 

“Delhaize will ensure that all Jack Link’s beef jerky will be removed from all of their stores.,” said a spokesperson for Ahold Delhaize.  

SAINSBURY’S UK 

“The link between cattle farming and the destruction of ecosystems like the Amazon, the Cerrado, and the Pantanal is a complex issue, which we take extremely seriously. We have taken a range of steps together with our suppliers and the wider industry to try to address this, but not enough progress has been made. We are therefore committed to move our own brand corned beef sourcing away from Brazil to ensure Sainsbury’s corned beef product can be independently verified deforestation and conversion free in origin.” 

AUCHAN FRANCE 

“Auchan is engaged against deforestation and land clearance in Brazil and particularly in the Cerrado,” said a spokesperson for Auchan France. “In order to support this engagement Auchan works closely with Earthworm Foundation which assists retailers in the implementation of responsible procurement policy. Also, the company signed the manifesto against deforestation soybeans one year ago. Currently our quality service investigates on your information. The product is openly sold by a lot of retailers and e-business in France. Auchan couldn't be pointed as a specific seller of this product. To prevent any misunderstanding and complying with our commitments, Auchan decides to withdrawal out of shelves the product.” 

PRINCES GROUP  

“Princes has not placed a contract for corned beef from JBS since November 2020; the Princes branded corned beef sourced from JBS and identified by Mighty Earth on shelves in the UK and Netherlands will be residual sales from this last contract. 

Princes takes the issue of deforestation very seriously and continually engages with suppliers to improve supply chain management, mitigate risks and enhance transparency. We have been reviewing our corned beef supply chain and are developing a new sourcing policy for Brazilian material taking into account a wide range of factors including traceability, risk, cost, quality, customer feedback, the management of indirect suppliers and a commitment to zero deforestation” 

We commenced this review of Brazilian beef sourcing in mid-2021 and our updated policy will be publicly available on our website in 2022 once we have formally adopted it and communicated to suppliers. Princes does not comment on commercial relationships with customers or suppliers. Our updated sourcing policy will be discussed with Brazilian corned beef suppliers but we will not make a public comment on commercial trading relationships.” 

Check out Mighty Earth’s briefings on Ahold Delhaize, Carrefour, Lidl Netherlands and Sainsbury’s here

# # # 

CONTACT: 
Joel Finkelstein 

202.285.0113 | [email protected] 


Industry Takes Another Step Towards Assuring Sustainable Natural Rubber 

Industry Takes Another Step Towards Assuring Sustainable Natural Rubber 

December 14, 2021 

Members of the multi-stakeholder Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR) today took another important step towards ensuring the production, processing and consumption of natural rubber does not contribute to the destruction of tropical forests, land grabbing or human rights abuses. 

Following from 2020’s vote by GPSNR members – such as Michelin, Bridgestone, Continental and Pirelli – to introduce comprehensive sustainability policy requirements for rubber companies, today saw overwhelming support for a resolution in favor of new reporting requirements, which will set high standards for how companies gather information and communicate on the delivery of their policy commitments. Like the policy components, the reporting requirements cover issues such as ensuring zero deforestation, protecting critical natural habitats and freshwater resources, anti-bribery and corruption, respecting land rights, and upholding human and labor rights within members’ natural rubber operations and supply chains. 

Commenting on the successful outcome of the vote at the GPSNR Annual Assembly, Mighty Earth’s Senior Director for Rubber, Dr Julian Oram, stated: “Today marks a significant advancement in our efforts to transform the global rubber industry, and reflects a huge effort by both CSOs and industry members of the Working Group that designed these reporting requirements. It should provide a crucial springboard for developing a convincing model of sustainability assurance and monitoring in the rubber sector going forward.” 

GPSNR was co-founded in 2019 by Mighty Earth and several other CSOs, along with a small number of rubber producer/ processors, tire companies, and auto manufacturers. Its mission is to deliver improvements in the socioeconomic and environmental performance of the natural rubber value chain. Over the past twelve months, GPSNR’s membership has grown from 92 to 156 members, including 39 new smallholder farmer representatives from nine rubber producing countries. 

While encouraging, this latest step remains just that – a small step. Thus far GPSNR has registered some notable successes, such as the widespread adoption of sustainable rubber policies, the establishment of a Grievance Mechanism with teeth, the inclusion of smallholder representatives as equal stakeholders in GPSNR’s governance, the development of tools for rubber supply chain traceability, and the establishment of national groups to undertake concrete capacity building initiatives on sustainable natural rubber, including agroforestry. 

Nonetheless, the ultimate success of the initiative still hangs in the balance. GPSNR has yet to develop an assurance model to robustly assess members’ compliance with their obligations, or gauge how the Platform is adding value to local efforts to boost sustainability at the farm level. There is also much work to do in developing a shared responsibility model that delivers greater equity and “benefit-sharing” across rubber value chains; including ensuring smallholder growers are fairly rewarded for sustainability improvements on their farms. At a more fundamental level, there is still a great deal of resistance amongst industry participants to embrace full supply chain transparency – a crucial prerequisite in being able to understand where problems persist in rubber-growing regions.  

Dr Oram cautioned, “The coming twelve months will determine whether the promising groundwork laid at the GPSNR to date ultimately bears fruit in the form of a truly effective self-regulating and self-monitoring industry that improves the livelihoods of rubber smallholders and workers, whilst protecting tropical forests and wildlife habitats. Watch this space!” 


JBS Sets Dubious Record with “Sustainable” Bond

JBS Sets Dubious Record with “Sustainable” Bond

WASHINGTON, DC – On Wednesday, meat giant JBS issued a billion-dollar “sustainability-linked” bond. In response, Mighty Earth CEO and Founder Glenn Hurowitz said:

“This bond is probably the greatest bastardization of the term ‘sustainability’ in financial history, and that’s saying something.”

“It’s one of the most destructive companies in the world telling investors it deserves billions of ‘sustainability’ dollars to finance 14 more years of deforestation.

“JBS remains a company that continues to sell meat linked to deforestation, even though there are more than a billion acres of land where deforestation-free agricultural production is possible. They could choose to be a leader in the global transition to a deforestation-free future, but instead they’ve chosen to conduct sustainability by press release.

“Any investor that buys JBS’s sustainable bond will be complicit in the forest destruction and displacement of Indigenous communities they drive.”

Background

  • JBS is Brazil’s largest cattle company, and its activities have been tied to deforestation, habitat destruction and climate change.
  • In March, the company announced it would a “commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2040,” including a pledge to “achieve zero deforestation across its global supply chain by 2035.” Advocates charged that the commitment was woefully inadequate for such a climate-intensive company and in fact amounted to a commitment to 14 more years of forest destruction.
  • In April, Mighty Earth released its newest analysis of deforestation data, which found that JBS was the worst-scoring meatpacker and company overall. It has been linked to 100,000 hectares of clearance the past two years – an area larger than all of Berlin. 75 percent of this clearance occurred in protected areas, making it potentially illegal under Brazilian law.
  • The new bond issued today by JBS does not seem to be labelled as a formal ESG bond or Green Bond. Rather, the term “sustainability-linked” implies that interest rates will be tied to sustainability targets – though JSB does not provide information about who or what body will make that determination. There does not seem to be any commitment that the financing will be used for sustainability activities.

# # #

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

CONTACT:
Joel Finkelstein

+1.202.285.0113 | [email protected]


French Government-backed deforestation ranking shows Bunge and Cargill bring most forest-ravaging soy to France

French Government deforestation ranking shows Bunge and Cargill bring most forest-ravaging soy to France

French Government-backed deforestation ranking shows Bunge and Cargill bring most forest-ravaging soy to France

Paris, 25 November 2021 – For immediate release

The French Government unveiled a new soy-linked deforestation risk tool showing that Bunge and Cargill import the bulk of dirty Brazilian soy into France. This is the first time a government has published a ranking of soy traders based on their deforestation risk. This online tool has the potential to become a catalyst for cleaning up soy supply chains for the EU market.

The deforestation risk analysis tool uses satellite images and supply chain data to quantify the volumes of soy coming into France that was grown in recently deforested areas in Brazil’s Amazon rainforests and the Cerrado tropical savannahs. The tool was developed by NGO Canopée and supply chain data experts Trase in consultation with the government working group formed by 45 representatives from the soy supply chain in France.

Just one year ago, the eight largest supermarkets in France led by Carrefour agreed to use deforestation- and conversion-free soy in a pledge called the French Soy Manifesto. This risk analysis is key to start implementing these commitments. Recently, big meat companies including Groupe LDC, Europe’s largest chicken company, andCooperl, France’s largest pork producer, joined retailers and agreed to only source clean soy.

Nico Muzi, Europe Director of Mighty Earth, said:

“We welcome the French government decision to publish this key tool that supermarkets and meat companies in France have been waiting for. Last year, Carrefour showed leadership in getting all big supermarkets to agree to stop using soy resulting from deforestation. Now, we urge Carrefour to put their money where their mouth is and shift soy purchases away from the highest deforestation risk traders, Bunge and Cargill, to less risky ones.”

Ranking of Brazilian soy importers based on their deforestation risk

Bunge and Cargill are Brazil’s largest soy exporters and are also the largest importers of Brazilian soy into France.

The findings of this new government-backed tool match the results of Mighty Earth’s own Soy and Cattle Deforestation Tracker, which earlier this year showed that the two largest European importers of soy, Bunge and Cargill, are the worst performing soy traders. Mighty Earth’s Deforestation Tracker estimated that between March 2019 and March 2021, Bunge was linked to almost 60,000 hectares of deforestation in Brazil, an area five times the size of Ville de Paris.

Soy consumption in France is responsible for the worst impacts on forests and native ecosystems. Soy for animal feed is the commodity imported into the EU that caused the most deforestation between 2005 and 2017.

“There’s simply no need to bulldoze forests and woody savannahs to make room for soy. There are more than 400 million hectares of previously deforested land where all future soy demand can easily be met without threatening the world’s last ecosystems.

We urge Cargill and Bunge to agree a Moratorium in the Cerrado with a cut-off date of 2020 in the same fashion of the Amazon Soy Moratorium, which the same soy traders agreed back in 2006 and stopped deforestation linked to soy overnight. This is a business decision the CEOs of Cargill and Bunge need to make asap,” said Nico Muzi.

Nine in 10 Carrefour customers in France think that supermarkets should not do business with the companies that are driving the destruction of forests in Brazil, according to YouGov poll conducted for Mighty Earth earlier this year. Despite this, the French supermarket giant keeps sourcing from the companies most responsible for driving deforestation including Cargill and Bunge. With the acquisition of BIG in March, Carrefour Brasil has become the biggest supermarket in Brazil.

ENDS

About Mighty Earth

Mighty Earth is a global environmental campaign organization that works to protect forests, conserve oceans, and address climate change. We work in Europe, Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa, and North America to drive large-scale action towards environmentally responsible agriculture that protects native ecosystems, wildlife, and water, and respects local community rights.

More information on Mighty Earth can be found at www.mightyearth.org/.

EU Transparency Register: 169821638625-38

Contact details:

Nico Muzi – [email protected]

+32 484 27 87 91


EU Makes Unprecedented Move:  No More Illegal OR Legal Deforestation for EU Products 

EU Makes Unprecedented Move: No More Illegal OR Legal Deforestation for EU Products 

Still Needed: Protections for Other Native Ecosystems 

EMBARGOED UNTIL 17 November 2021, 12:30 CET 

Today, the European Commission published a draft law to ensure agricultural products sold in the Union are free of deforestation. In a landmark move, the EU legislative proposal addresses both legal and illegal deforestation in producing countries. This is a world first: it sets an international precedent in the fight against deforestation, and provides an important incentive to protect the planet’s remaining forests.  

“The EU draft anti-deforestation law represents a major leap forward in the fight to protect the world’s endangered forests,” said Nico Muzi, Europe Director of Mighty Earth. “The EU is sending a clear message to major supermarkets and retailers: one of the largest economies in the world simply won’t accept agricultural products linked to deforestation. 

However, Mighty Earth cautioned that the draft law has three major loopholes that could substantially weaken its impact even as deforestation in the Amazon surges. First, the draft law doesn’t cover the destruction of vital, carbon-rich natural ecosystems such as savannahs, wetlands and peatlands; second, the Commission plan fails to protect the rights of Indigenous peoples to their ancestral lands even though multiple studies show that Indigenous territories are often the best protected; and third, the proposal excludes rubber, which has been a significant driver of deforestation. 

“This law will make companies like Cargill think twice about purchasing agricultural goods linked to deforestation,” said Muzi. “But it must be strengthened if the EU is serious about fulfilling its COP26 pledge to end deforestation by 2030. It pointlessly leaves out carbon-rich natural ecosystems such as Brazil’s Cerrado and Southeast Asia’s peatland – as well as rubber, an important forest-risk commodity. It also misses the opportunity to protect indigenous peoples, who are some of the best defenders of the land. 

“There’s no reason European consumers should have to worry that the chicken they’re cooking is linked to the destruction of our most precious ecosystems,” said Muzi. “There’s simply no need to destroy native ecosystems to make room for commercial crops. There are more than one billion acres of previously degraded land where all future agricultural needs can easily be met without threatening the world’s last ecosystems. We therefore urge the European Parliament to close those huge loopholes in order to protect European consumers from nature destruction and human rights violations.” 

Demand for a strong EU law across society 

Shoppers in Europe have said again and again they don’t want to buy food linked to the bulldozing of natural ecosystems. Four in five Europeans think that governments should oblige supermarkets to act on deforestation. In fact, a record 1.2 million citizens  urged the Commission to go beyond forest protection and include natural ecosystems such as savannas, wetlands and peatland in the law. The comment period was the second most participated-in public consultation in the history of the EU 

And because their customers are demanding deforestation- and conversion-free products, businesses also support strong regulation. In May, over 70 big companies such as supermarket chains Carrefour and Lidl, foodmakers Danone and Ferrero, cosmetics brands L’Oreal and The Body Shop (and even Groupe Avril, France’s largest animal feed producer) urged the EU to protect natural ecosystems. 

A year ago, the European Parliament adopted a legislative initiative report urging the European Commission to propose a strong anti-deforestation law. 

The link between EU consumption and global deforestation 

Europe is one of the largest drivers of global deforestation in the world, second only to China. The EU is responsible for 16 percent of tropical deforestation through the imports of commodities such as beef, soy, palm oil, rubber, timber, cacao and coffee and their derived products.  

Agriculture drives almost 90 percent of tropical deforestation, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Soy traders Cargill and Bunge and meatpackers JBS and Marfrig are among the worst forest destroyers in Brazil. 

The draft law obliges all companies importing and trading with the six agricultural commodities (beef, soy, palm oil, wood, cocoa and coffee) to conduct due diligence to ensure products sold in the single market are deforestation-free. 

ENDS 

Notes to the Editor: 

Why do we need to protect savannahs, wetlands and peatlands? 

Savannahs, wetlands and peatlands support the livelihoods of Indigenous peoples, are home to wildlife, including critically endangered species, and are massive carbon sinks.  

Around 70% of the forest destruction associated with EU soy imports was concentrated in one critical biome, Brazil’s Cerrado. The Cerrado is a woody tropical savannah that scientists describe it as an ‘upside-down forest’ because its root system is immense and stores around 13.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide. 

This means that if the Commission sets out to only protect ecosystems strictly defined as “forests”, soy and beef expansion in South America will keep shifting from the Amazon basin to the Cerrado, exacerbating deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, violence and human rights violations. The same could be expected for palm oil, which will expand further into peatlands.  

Why rubber? 

It's vital that rubber is included in the EU deforestation law. As a key deforestation-risk commodity, rubber was responsible for over 5 million hectares of deforestation over recent years and rubber's expansion in tropical countries has had a devastating impact on millions of hectares of forests, ecosystems, biodiversity, and natural habitats, as well as the rights and livelihoods of hundreds of local and Indigenous communities. Rubber is used mainly in auto tires, but is also found in numerous products like boots, mats, condoms, gloves, and apparel. With global rubber demand forecast to boom by 33% by 2030, and widespread deforestation and species extinction predicted, key industry associations like the ETRMA - which represent giant tire companies like Michelin and, Continental and Pirelli - recently publicly stated that they favour mandatory due diligence and always believed rubber would be in the EU’s legislation.  

The decision to exclude rubber was based on flawed data, according to the academics whose research was used by the European Commission. 

Why upholding international human rights laws? 

The Commission’s plan fails to protect international human rights, in particular to ensure that the lands of indigenous peoples and local communities are protected. Instead, it relies on national laws of producing countries. This is problematic as recent developments in Brazil and Congo show how even those national laws are under attack. 

About Mighty Earth  

Mighty Earth is a global environmental campaign organization that works to protect forests, conserve oceans, and address climate change. We work in to drive large-scale action towards environmentally responsible agriculture that protects native ecosystems, wildlife, and water, and respects local community rights.  

More information on Mighty Earth can be found at www.mightyearth.org/. 

EU Transparency Register: 169821638625-38 

### 

Contact details: 

Nico Muzi – [email protected] 

+32 484 27 87 91 
 


Astra Clearing Forest NOW in Rarest Orangutan Habitat

Astra Clearing Forest NOW in Rare Orangutan Habitat

New Satellite Imagery Shows October 2021 Forest Destruction

BATANG TORU, NORTH SUMATRA, 9 NOVEMBER 2021 – New satellite imagery caught Indonesian mining, financial services, auto and agribusiness giant Astra International destroying the home forests of the rarest great ape in the world – as recently as last week. The investigation shows operations at Astra’s Martabe gold mine eating away at the habitat of the critically endangered Tapanuli Orangutan between October 9 and 29, 2021.[1]

“Since February, Astra has been in talks over a plan to gauge the impact of the neighboring Martabe mine on Tapanuli Orangutan habitat,” said Annisa Rahmawati, Environmental Advocate at Mighty Earth. “But while talks have dragged on for months, this new evidence shows deforestation continuing all along.”

The Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis) was identified in just 2017, the first time since the 1920s that a new species of great ape had been found. Indonesia is the only country outside of the Democratic Republic of the Congo that can boast of being home to three species of Great Ape. Fewer than 800 Tapanuli orangutans exist in the world, less than any other great ape species.

“The Batang Toru ecosystem landscape is our last frontier forest in North Sumatra. The government should evaluate all permits on this landscape and take a firm action against companies that threaten the sustainability of this critical landscape,” said Roy Lumbangaol, a campaign manager at WALHI North Sumatra.

Astra International is also a major player in the palm oil sector, with a special policy on deforestation. Its managed palm plantation operations and trading operations (under the company name Astra Agro Lestari) operate under a No Deforestation policy.

“Astra has not extended its palm oil sustainability policy to operations like the Martabe mine,” said Annisa . “That’s even though many of their consumer-product customers like Hershey’s and Unilever have cross-commodity-deforestation commitments on record. In essence, this recklessness around Martabe puts their entire agribusiness operation at risk.”

Scientists estimate that the Tapanuli orangutan population has almost halved since 1985, and it will continue to decline unless comprehensive protection measures are implemented. Conservation biologists have projected that if the adult population decreases by more than 1% of

 each year, the genetic diversity of the primate will decline to the point that it will go extinct That’s why scientists with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature have called for a moratorium [2] on the development of projects impacting the Tapanuli orangutan’s habitat.

The Batang Toru Ecosystem is also home to the critically endangered Sumatran tiger, pangolin and helmeted hornbill. Sun bears, tapir, serow and a host of other rare endangered species, including more than 300 bird species, also rely on this habitat.

References:
1 https://www.planet.com/stories/astra-jardine-martabe-gold-mine-expansion_vers3-pzV7oNKng
2 https://www.iucn.org/news/secretariat/201904/iucn-calls-a-moratorium-projects-impacting-critically- endangered-tapanuli-orangutan

# # # For further information,please contact:

Indonesian Campaign Advocacy, Mighty Earth

Annisa Rahmawati

08111097527 [email protected]

PR Consultant, Image Dynamics

Ayunda Putri

08122001411 [email protected]


Astra Tertangkap Lakukan Deforestasi di Habitat Orangutan Terlangka

Siaran Pers Untuk Disiarkan Segera

Astra Tertangkap Lakukan Deforestasi di Habitat Orangutan Terlangka

Citra Satelit Mengungkap Kerusakan Hutan terbaru pada Bulan Oktober 2021

BATANG TORU, SUMATERA UTARA, 9 NOVEMBER 2021 – Citra satelit terbaru berhasil menangkap perusakan hutan pekanlalu oleh Astra International yang saham induknya dimiliki oleh Jardine Matheson1, adalah sebuah perusahaan yang bergerakdi bidang pertambangan, jasa keuangan, otomotif dan agribisnis raksasa pada wilayah habitat spesies kera besar terlangka didunia. Hasil investigasi juga menunjukkan kegiatan operasional Astra di tambang emas Martabe dalam rentang waktu 9sampai 29 Oktober 2021 telah merusak habitat orangutan Tapanuli yang terancam punah.2

“Sejak bulan Februari, Astra berencana untuk menakar dampak tambang Martabe terhadap habitat orangutan Tapanuli,” kata Annisa Rahmawati, Advokat Kampanye Indonesia Mighty Earth. “Namun, bukti baru ini telah menunjukkan bahwa perusakanhutan terus berjalan ketika pembicaraan mengenai rencana masih berlangsung.”

Orangutan Tapanuli (Pongo tapanuliensis) yang diumumkan sebagai spesies baru pada tahun 2017, adalah kera berukuranbesar baru pertama yang ditemukan oleh ilmuwan sejak tahun 1920-an. Dengan temuan ini, Indonesia menjadi satu-satunyanegara selain Republik Demokratik Kongo yang memiliki tiga spesies kera besar. Saat ini, hanya tersisa kurang dari 800orangutan Tapanuli di seluruh dunia, lebih sedikit dari spesies kera besar lainnya.

“Ekosistem Batang Toru di utara Sumatera merupakan satu-satunya habitat orangutan Tapanuli dan sepanjang sejarahmanusia, belum ada satu pun spesies kera besar yang punah. Satwa ini adalah salah satu kerabat terdekat umat manusia,dan saat ini kita tidak memiliki banyak waktu untuk menyelamatkan mereka.” kata Annisa.

Astra International adalah salah satu pemain utama di sektor kelapa sawit dan mempunyai kebijakan khusus mengenaideforestasi. Beroperasi di bawah nama Astra Agro Lestari, baik pengelolaan perkebunan kelapa sawit maupun kegiatanperdagangan perusahaan ini merujuk pada komitmen Nol deforestasi.

“Astra belum mengadopsi komitmen Nol Deforestasi tersebut untuk sejumlah kegiatan operasional mereka yang lain, seperti di tambang Martabe,” lanjut Annisa . “Padahal banyak pelanggan produk mereka seperti Hershey dan Unilever telahmenerapkan komitmen No deforestasi lintas komoditas. Intinya, kelalaian di tambang Martabe ini dapat membahayakanseluruh operasi agribisnis mereka dan memperparah krisis iklim di bumi.”

“Lanskap ekosistem Batangtoru adalah hutan alam terakhir di Sumatera Utara. Pemerintah harus mengevaluasi kembaliseluruh ijin-ijin yang berada di lanskap ekosistem Batangtoru ini dan berani menindak tegas perusahaan yang mengancam keberlangsungan kehidupan di lanskap ekosistem ini”

kata Roy Lumbangaol, Manajer Advokasi dan Kampanye WALHI Sumatera Utara.

Para ilmuwan memperkirakan bahwa populasi orangutan Tapanuli telah berkurang hingga hampir separuhnya sejak tahun1985 dan akan terus menurun jika tidak ada tindak perlindungan yang komprehensif. Para ahli biologi konservasi jugamemproyeksikan bahwa jika populasi orangutan dewasa berkurang lebih dari 1% setiap tahunnya, keragaman genetik primataakan menurun hingga akhirnya punah. Itu sebabnya para ilmuwan dari International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) menyerukan diberlakukannya moratorium3 pengembangan proyek yang berdampak langsung pada habitat orangutanTapanuli.

Tidak hanya bagi Orangutan Tapanuli, lanskap ekosistem Batang Toru juga merupakan tempat tinggal bagi sejumlah hewanpaling terancam punah di dunia, seperti harimau Sumatra, trenggiling, dan rangkong. Kehidupan satwa seperti beruangmadu, tapir, serow serta beragam spesies langka lainnya, termasuk lebih dari 300 spesies burung, terlebih lagi bagi masyarakat adat dan masyarakat sekitar yang sangat bergantung kehidupannya pada keberadaan hutan dan keanekaragaman hayati di lanskap ekosistem Batangtoru.

1 https://www.ft.com/content/74d17c47-fc3f-47db-a717-e1a2780986fb

2 https://www.planet.com/stories/astra-jardine-martabe-gold-mine-expansion_vers3-pzV7oNKng

3 https://www.iucn.org/news/secretariat/201904/iucn-calls-a-moratorium-projects-impacting-critically-endange red-tapanuli-orangutan

# # #

Untuk informasi lebih lanjut, hubungi: Advokat Kampanye IndonesiaMighty Earth Annisa Rahmawati

08111097527 [email protected]

Manajer Advokasi dan Kampanye WALHI Sumatera Utara

Roy Lumbangaol

+62 822-7656-8624 [email protected]

PR Consultant Image Dynamics Ayunda Putri

08122001411 [email protected]


The UK Soy Manifesto to end meat-driven deforestation: does it fall short?

The UK Soy Manifesto to end meat-driven deforestation: does it fall short?  

Today, UK food industry titans, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, McDonalds, Nando’s, Nestle and KFC will launch the UK Soy Manifesto, which aims to ensure that all physical shipments of soy to the UK are ‘deforestation and conversion-free’.  

This represents an attempt by leading consumer facing companies to break the link between destructive deforestation and land clearance in Brazil and Argentina with meat sales in the UK. Soy is mainly used as animal feed and millions of hectares of deforestation are attributed to the expansion in soy production.  

So what does the new UK Soy Manifesto mean? And does this represent a breakthrough, or another ‘greenwash’ environmental initiative launched at COP26 in Glasgow with stated ambition but little chance of implementation?  

In many ways, the UK Soy Manifesto represents progress. The 27 UK signatories have agreed to a cut-off date (of January 2020) after which they will not accept any soy from deforested land in their products (either directly or embedded).  

They have also agreed to cascade this requirement to their supplier contracts; to engage commercial consequences for non-compliance and publicly report against progress. These are all measures that several organisations, including Mighty Earth, have been calling for.  

This approach sends a clear signal to giant agribusiness traders that are driving deforestation in Brazil, such as Cargill and Bunge (who have been linked to 66,000 and 60,000 hectares of land clearance in Brazil respectively over the past two years alone), that UK companies will not accept the continued destruction of the Amazon, Cerrado or Pantanal biomes for industrial animal feed and meat.  

In terms of the market signal, the numbers are large enough to matter. The signatories represent some 12,000 individual supermarket stores in the UK and £130 billion in turnover: 1,300 McDonald’s and 900 KFC restaurants, alone.  

But despite the stated ambition, the UK Soy Manifesto represents both a missed opportunity and an own goal.  

Only a month ago, many of the same retailers that have signed this UK Soy Manifesto, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons agreed to a new Roadmap through the Retail Soy Group that highlights what good looks like in setting policy and practice in this area (see table below).  

Our analysis shows that the new UK Soy Manifesto lacks many of the key elements that could make it transformative for soy in comparison to industry best practice.  

How does it measure up? The UK Soy Manifesto compared with industry best practice through the Retail Soy Group Roadmap.

UK Soy Manifesto Table

Industry best practice is for policy to apply to a ‘group level’ from supplier companies. The intent behind this is that such a measure should prevent a company that drives deforestation from continuing to do this with impunity while supplying so-called ‘clean soy’ to another part of the market (such as the UK). Despite this, the UK Soy Manifesto only applies to soy coming into the UK market from individual companies.  

The UK Soy Manifesto also uses weak language on ensuring supplier commitments; does not embed full traceability in supplier contracts and appears to use self-reporting from the very traders that are driving deforestation in the first place to verify compliance.  

Finally, the implementation period of no later than 2025 gives companies an extended runway of three and a half years to put in place measures, many of which could be put in place within six months or even sooner in many cases.  

During this period, some 330,000 hectares of land – twice the size of Greater London - could have been cleared from the Cerrado savannah in Brazil for expanded soy production at current rates.  

UK industry, environmental organisations, and Indigenous communities that rely on forest and savannah lands in South America desperately need this initiative to work.  

Therefore, we suggest four measures or approaches that could help to ensure that the UK Soy Manifesto becomes effective and transformative in implementation.  

1) Shorten the implementation period to align with the Retail Soy Group Roadmap: for retailers, these measures should be put in place immediately with full disclosure on which proportion of suppliers have signed up to these contractual clauses by 2023 at the latest.  

2) Apply group level accountability principles: this means that in practice, traders such as Cargill and Bunge that are credibly driving systematic deforestation should be excluded from the supply chain unless they agree to apply a cut-off date, stringent monitoring and other control measures. This will help the initiative to move towards a ‘clean supplier’ principle.  

3) Monitoring should be supported by independent systems to support verification and enforcement – such as the Mighty Earth Trader Tracker, and traceability should be a requirement for full access to the UK market – embedded in supplier c contracts.  

4) Finally, as Mighty Earth has noted in other publications – a credible soy policy or strategy also requires targets to be set on meat reduction and a move to alternative proteins. This should be embedded in policy – rather than in aspirational statements. 

These four measures can take the Manifesto from one based on high-level goals towards effective delivery and industry transformation.  


Five things that will determine the success of COP26 Leaders’ Pledge to Protect Forests

Five things that will determine the success of COP26 Leaders’ Pledge to Protect Forests

 

November 3, 2021

The announcement at COP26 of a new political commitment and global fund to protect the world’s forests heralds an unprecedented moment to begin reversing decades of deforestation across the planet. Signatories to the statement – which include Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as the EU and USA – between them account for 85% of the world’s remaining forests.

Along with a promise to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030, the statement also announced a $19.2bn fund (comprised of both public and private money) to tackle the problem.

However, political pledges to end deforestation have been seen before; notably the 2014 New York Declaration on Forests. Sadly, the world has continued to lose forests at an alarming rate since that time. So, what needs to happen now for political puff to translate into real action on the ground to protect forests around the world?

Here are five things that will determine the fate of world leaders’ promise to halt deforestation by 2030.

  • Enacting laws and resourcing law enforcement

Many of the world’s largest and most precious remaining forests are found in countries that either have inadequate laws to protect threatened ecosystems, or where such laws exist on paper only and are not enforced. This situation is compounded by corruption and cronyism, with many of the most notorious loggers in forest-rich countries being people with close financial and political ties to those in power. Conserving remaining forests in these countries will largely come down to changing the “risk vs reward” equation, i.e. by increasing enforcement and raising the level of legal jeopardy for the paymasters of those who wield the chainsaws.

  • Protecting Indigenous land and forest rights

Thousands of Indigenous communities across the planet rely directly on forest ecosystems for their livelihoods and spiritual identity. At the same time, Indigenous Peoples’ play a vital role in managing and protecting forests. According to a UN report released in March of 2021, deforestation in Latin America is up to 50% lower in the territories of Indigenous communities than elsewhere. However, despite several international agreements codifying the rights of Indigenous Peoples, their territories continue to come under attack around the world from loggers and private militias seeking to displace them and grab their land. It is therefore vital that countries do more to protect, respect and fulfill the rights of Indigenous communities if they are to meet their objectives of halting and reversing deforestation.

  • Climate finance additionality

When giant sums of money meant to save the planet are bandied about at international events such as COP26, it can be easy to get swept away in the hype. But it is important to understand the fine print, and to examine the track record of such pledges. At the Paris climate summit, the world’s richest countries agreed to provide $100 billion a year to poorer nations by 2020 in order to help them adapt to and mitigate climate impacts. Yet on the eve of the Glasgow COP, leaders of the world’s richest countries admitted that they had failed to deliver on this promise.

While the existing commitments remain unfulfilled, there is also a question of whether money pledged under this new initiative to halt deforestation (including to support Indigenous communities) will provide additional funds to those already promised, or be retrofitted within pre-existing unmet pledges. Developing countries are also concerned about whether the funds will come out of already overstretched – and in the UK’s case, shrinking – international aid budgets, reducing support for other vital activities. This question of “additionality” is crucial for bringing poorer nations on board with forest protection commitments.

 

  • Closing the market

While protecting trees in countries with large intact forest areas is of paramount importance (including the financing of that), it is also essential to “delink” the consumption habits of rich importing nations from ecological destruction around the world. A number of commodities imported by OECD countries – including beef, soy, palm oil, cocoa, coffee, maize and rubber – are grown in tropical environments, where their production is often directly linked to the clearcutting of forests. It is therefore up to the governments in regions such as Europe, North America and East Asia to enact and enforce strong laws that prevent imported goods linked to deforestation from entering their markets.

  • Accelerating industry action

Over recent years, investigations by groups like Mighty Earth and other NGOs have created growing media and consumer awareness about deforestation linked to tropical commodities such palm oil, soy, cocoa and rubber. This has put the industries responsible for producing, trading and selling these products under increasing pressure to take action. In some cases, companies have come together to develop “no deforestation, no exploitation” policies and obligations for their suppliers.

However, progress on implementing these commitments has generally been slow. Companies that produce, buy and sell tropical commodities must therefore redouble their efforts to ensure their pledges are realized on the ground, and develop effective joint monitoring mechanisms to ensure compliance. Industry efforts must also widen to address rogue companies selling within so-called “leakage markets”; i.e. countries and jurisdictions where exporters of goods linked to deforestation can still find a welcome haven for their products.

By pursuing these five key strategies, governments, companies, investors, consumers and civil society can capitalize on the welcome political momentum that has gathered behind the vital task of saving the restoring the world’s remaining forests.


ANALYSIS: Major Breakthrough in Meat Sustainability as Supermarkets Pledge to Cease Purchases Tied to Deforestation

Major Breakthrough in Meat Sustainability as Supermarkets Pledge to Cease Purchases Tied to Deforestation

As the world’s eyes look to Glasgow for climate action, huge change may be coming right in the meat aisle. Leading British and European supermarket chains representing more than 50,000 supermarkets around the world earlier this month sent a clear and unprecedented message to the meat companies responsible for enormous deforestation: change the way you do business, or you’re cut off.

The companies pledged not to purchase meat or dairy raised on soy animal feed sold by companies connected to deforestation that occurred after August, 2020. Europe imports typically imports more than 30 million metric tons of soybeans and soymeal every year, primarily for animal feed. This soy has caused more deforestation than any other commodity imported into the EU and UK from 2005-2017.

The supermarket chains that are part of the commitment are members of the Retail Soy Group - Aldi South, Aldi Nord, Ahold Delhaize, Coop, ASDA, Waitrose, M&S, Sainsbury’s, Lidl, Migros, and Woolworth’s. These chains also are looking at ways to reduce consumption of meat altogether by increasing sales of plant-based and other sustainable proteins.

Now the question becomes whether this coalition of some of the world’s largest retailers will actually implement this commitment, or try to pull a bait and switch on their customers.

What Happened

On October 5th, the Retail Soy Group laid out a new industry road map to stop industrial deforestation driven by growing soy for animal feed. The Group represents major commercial chains like Ahold Delhaize, Aldi South, Aldi North, Asda, Co-op (UK and Switzerland), Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Migros, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose & Partners – which taken together operate nearly 50,000 supermarkets, provide jobs for hundreds of thousands of employees, and bring in revenue worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

This commitment is the first of its kind at this scale, and could be a huge deal for forests and for the planet. That’s because enormous swaths of land in Latin America are destroyed to grow the soybeans used to feed chickens, pigs and cows.

70 percent of this destruction is concentrated in just one critical biome – the Cerrado in Brazil – which holds some 5 percent of the world’s biodiversity and some 13.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide in its immense root system. Half of the Cerrado – an area the size of France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands combined – has already been destroyed.

The Commitment Say the Right Things

Right now the roadmap is just words on paper, but they’re the right words. Specifically, it says that:

  • Retailers will cut-off agribusiness traders from lucrative markets within 14 months if they continue to buy animal feed from deforesters. Until now, traders like Cargill and Bunge have refused to agree to dicscontinue traders engaged in deforestation – but 50,000 supermarkets speak loudly.
  • Retailers will impose a cut-off date of August 2020 after which they will not accept embedded soy from either legal or illegal conversation of native ecosystems. And, they will cascade these requirements to their direct and indirect suppliers while imposing clauses in supplier contracts.
  • Retailers will apply these stipulations at the group level, which means suppliers won’t be able to sell ‘clean supply’ in one part of their supply chain while continuing to support deforestation in another.
  • Retailers will create strategies that acknowledge reducing dependence on soy means finding pathways to alternative proteins, meat reduction and non-soy animal feed.
  • Critically, the road map finally turns its back on achieving deforestation-free supply chains through certification, credits or offsets– no deforestation means no deforestation.

But Does it Matter?

If the commitments are actually implemented, and if they’re more than just words on paper. We think three tests will tell the tale:

  • First: Will supermarket companies embed these principles and stipulations in supplier contracts? Up to now, asking nicely has proven futile – last year, over 160 retailers wrote a letter to large traders in Brazil asking them to accept the principle of a cut-off date and transparency, but the traders defied them. Instead, we need commercial action – backed up by robust monitoring and evaluation – to actually force change by rewarding clean suppliers at a group level and sanctioning others until they clean up, too. These kind of efforts have been so successful that deforestation for palm oil has been reduced more than 90% in Southeast Asia.
  • Second: How seriously will supermarket companies handle non-compliance? The roadmap acknowledges the need for commercial penalties, hut also stipulates that buyers should engage and support the supplier to come up with a time-bound plan to address the problem. This sounds solutions-oriented, but in fact our experience shows that companies can become trapped in an endless cycle of engagement over non-compliance that doesn’t bring real change. The Retail Soy Group members need to be crystal clear that non-compliance with the cut-off date, transparency and group-level responsibility principles will result in commercial consequences – such as suspension of contracts or dropping of volumes. This too is easier if these stipulations are written right into the contracts.
  • Third: Will supermarket companies get serious about alternative proteins? Less meat consumption reduces demand for industrial animal feed and therefore reduces pressure on land. Any genuine strategy from retailers which aims to end deforestation must include offering consumers better choices. That can include giving more shelf space to vegetables, fruit and plant proteins and setting meat and dairy reduction targets, and increasing the share of plant-based food in the average shopping basket.

Mighty Earth will be watching closely and applying these three tests as the Retail Soy Group moves forward with its roadmap. If taken seriously, this could mark a transformative moment for global agribusiness – and global forests.


BREAKTHROUGH: Supermarkets Pledge to Cease Purchases Tied to Deforestation

Major Breakthrough in Meat Sustainability as Supermarkets Pledge to Cease Purchases Tied to Deforestation

As the world’s eyes look to Glasgow for climate action, huge change may be coming right in the meat aisle. Leading British and European supermarket chains representing more than 50,000 supermarkets around the world earlier this month sent a clear and unprecedented message to the meat companies responsible for enormous deforestation: change the way you do business, or you’re cut off.

The companies pledged not to purchase meat or dairy raised on soy animal feed sold by companies connected to deforestation that occurred after August, 2020. Europe imports typically imports more than 30 million metric tons of soybeans and soymeal every year, primarily for animal feed. This soy has caused more deforestation than any other commodity imported into the EU and UK from 2005-2017.

The supermarket chains that are part of the commitment are members of the Retail Soy Group - Aldi South, Aldi Nord, Ahold Delhaize, Coop, ASDA, Waitrose, M&S, Sainsbury’s, Lidl, Migros, and Woolworth’s. These chains also are looking at ways to reduce consumption of meat altogether by increasing sales of plant-based and other sustainable proteins.

Now the question becomes whether this coalition of some of the world’s largest retailers will actually implement this commitment, or try to pull a bait and switch on their customers.

What Happened

On October 5th, the Retail Soy Group laid out a new industry road map to stop industrial deforestation driven by growing soy for animal feed. The Group represents major commercial chains like Ahold Delhaize, Aldi South, Aldi North, Asda, Co-op (UK and Switzerland), Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Migros, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose & Partners – which taken together operate nearly 50,000 supermarkets, provide jobs for hundreds of thousands of employees, and bring in revenue worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

This commitment is the first of its kind at this scale, and could be a huge deal for forests and for the planet. That’s because enormous swaths of land in Latin America are destroyed to grow the soybeans used to feed chickens, pigs and cows.

70 percent of this destruction is concentrated in just one critical biome – the Cerrado in Brazil – which holds some 5 percent of the world’s biodiversity and some 13.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide in its immense root system. Half of the Cerrado – an area the size of France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands combined – has already been destroyed.

The Commitment Say the Right Things:

Right now the roadmap is just words on paper, but they’re the right words. Specifically, it says that:

  • Retailers will cut-off agribusiness traders from lucrative markets within 14 months if they continue to buy animal feed from deforesters. Until now, traders like Cargill and Bunge have refused to agree to dicscontinue traders engaged in deforestation – but 50,000 supermarkets speak loudly.
  • Retailers will impose a cut-off date of August 2020 after which they will not accept embedded soy from either legal or illegal conversation of native ecosystems. And, they will cascade these requirements to their direct and indirect suppliers while imposing clauses in supplier contracts.
  • Retailers will apply these stipulations at the group level, which means suppliers won’t be able to sell ‘clean supply’ in one part of their supply chain while continuing to support deforestation in another.
  • Retailers will create strategies that acknowledge reducing dependence on soy means finding pathways to alternative proteins, meat reduction and non-soy animal feed.
  • Critically, the road map finally turns its back on achieving deforestation-free supply chains through certification, credits or offsets– no deforestation means no deforestation.

But Does it Matter?

If the commitments are actually implemented, and if they’re more than just words on paper. We think three tests will tell the tale:

  • First: Will supermarket companies embed these principles and stipulations in supplier contracts? Up to now, asking nicely has proven futile – last year, over 160 retailers wrote a letter to large traders in Brazil asking them to accept the principle of a cut-off date and transparency, but the traders defied them. Instead, we need commercial action – backed up by robust monitoring and evaluation – to actually force change by rewarding clean suppliers at a group level and sanctioning others until they clean up, too. These kind of efforts have been so successful that deforestation for palm oil has been reduced more than 90% in Southeast Asia.
  • Second: How seriously will supermarket companies handle non-compliance? The roadmap acknowledges the need for commercial penalties, hut also stipulates that buyers should engage and support the supplier to come up with a time-bound plan to address the problem. This sounds solutions-oriented, but in fact our experience shows that companies can become trapped in an endless cycle of engagement over non-compliance that doesn’t bring real change. The Retail Soy Group members need to be crystal clear that non-compliance with the cut-off date, transparency and group-level responsibility principles will result in commercial consequences – such as suspension of contracts or dropping of volumes. This too is easier if these stipulations are written right into the contracts.
  • Third: Will supermarket companies get serious about alternative proteins? Less meat consumption reduces demand for industrial animal feed and therefore reduces pressure on land. Any genuine strategy from retailers which aims to end deforestation must include offering consumers better choices. That can include giving more shelf space to vegetables, fruit and plant proteins and setting meat and dairy reduction targets, and increasing the share of plant-based food in the average shopping basket.

Mighty Earth will be watching closely and applying these three tests as the Retail Soy Group moves forward with its roadmap. If taken seriously, this could mark a transformative moment for global agribusiness – and global forests.


Mighty Earth: Glasgow's $12 billion for forests great news, but just a start

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

2 November 2021

Contact:

Joel Finkelstein | 202.285.0113 | [email protected]



MIGHTY EARTH on GLASGOW DEFORESTATION ACTIONS

Glenn Hurowitz Founder and CEO, Mighty Earth

“$12 billion to protect and restore the world’s forests is a welcome boost for nature conservation, but it is still paltry compared to either the need or the investment happening in the energy sector. Nature based climate solutions represent 37% of the solution, and until now have received just two percent of total climate finance.

“Climate policymakers are still indulging in an energy fetish that is blinding them to the outsized potential for forests, mangroves, and grasslands to suck extra carbon out of the atmosphere. Sure, we need to go big on energy, transportation, and industrial decarbonization – but we need to go at least as big when it comes in investing in the natural climate solutions all around us.”

On the source of the finance commitment:

“It’s remarkable that philanthropy is providing such a large share of this pledge, when governments and the private sector have vastly more resources. The battle to stop the collapse of the natural systems that underpin life on Earth shouldn’t depend so disproportionately on charity.”

On other upcoming deforestation decisions:

“The UK, US, and European Union are all considering new legislation to ban the import of commodities linked to deforestation. Big ag interests are aggressively lobbying for some giant loopholes. We hope Glasgow is a springboard to go from talking about action on forests to making deforestation illegal once and for all.”

On some noticeably absent investors:

“It’s great to see several large investors pledging to curtail financing deforestation, but several of the biggest bankrollers of deforestation like BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street are notably absent. Notorious forest destroyers like JBS and Bunge just shouldn’t have access to mainstream capital markets to finance the bulldozing of the world’s last rainforests.”

On the missing meat sector:

“The meat industry drives more deforestation and climate pollution than the entire global transportation sector, but is missing entirely from the pledge. It’s not surprising given that the giant meat companies that supply the UK and other markets like Cargill and JBS have resisted calls from customers and financiers alike to shift their development to the Earth’s 1.6 billion acres of previously deforested lands. It’s time for Tesco and other supermarkets to stop putting up with their suppliers’ continued efforts to tear down everything the world is calling for when it comes to conservation.”

# # #

ABOUT GLENN HUROWITZ

Glenn Hurowitz is a globally recognized leader and campaigner on forests, agriculture, and climate change.

Glenn Hurowitz is the founder and CEO of Mighty Earth, a global environmental organization. Glenn leads campaigns to protect forests, conserve oceans, and solve climate change, and is an internationally recognized expert on forests, agriculture, and climate change. Under his leadership, Mighty Earth has achieved transformative forest, climate, and human rights policies from the world’s biggest emitting industries – including major contributions to driving a 90% reduction in deforestation for palm oil, industry-wide action to end deforestation and land-grabbing in the rubber and cocoa industries, and billions of dollars in new clean energy investments. In addition to advocacy, Mighty Earth monitors tends of millions of acres of forests globally as part of its Rapid Response satellite monitoring and supply chain analysis program. Glenn previously co-founded Chain Reaction Research, which provides major financial institutions with in-depth risk analysis of companies’ sustainability risk; served as Managing Director of Waxman Strategies, and chaired the Forest Heroes campaign, which won the Benny Award from the Business Ethics Network for itssuccesses in transforming global agriculture.

Glenn has worked extensively in politics, and is the author of the critically-acclaimed book Fear and Courage in the Democratic Party, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Nation, Politico, The American Prospect, and The Singapore Straits Times, among others. He’s appeared on many international media outlets, including CNN, Bloomberg, BBC, MSNBC, FOX, CBS, and NPR. He is a graduate of the Green Corps fellowship and Yale University. 


Jardines Caught Clearing Forest NOW in Rare Orangutan Habitat

Jardines Caught Clearing Forest NOW in Rare Orangutan Habitat

New Satellite Imagery Shows October 2021 Clearing

Mighty Earth has exposed a new threat to the rarest great ape on the planet, and the world is watching. The critically endangered Tapanuli orangutan of northern Sumatra was just identified in 2017 and fewer than 800 exist in the world, but satellite imagery from the past two weeks shows their habitat being eaten away by deforestation.

Since 2018, the Martabe gold mine in northern Sumatra has been owned by United Tractors, through Astra International, a subsidiary of British conglomerate Jardine Matheson. And Since February of this year, the company has been in talks over a plan to conduct an impact assessment of the gold mine on Tapanuli orangutan habitat -- but while talks have dragged on for months, this new evidence shows deforestation continuing the whole time. The investigation was covered by the Financial Times.

“One could look at the continued expansion and it suggests they are engaging in bad faith. This is a species on the brink of extinction.”
-- Amanda Hurowitz, senior adviser with Mighty Earth

“[I am] surprised and disappointed. While you are negotiating, they are continuing to fight and gain advantage. From what what I can see, there is significant clearance of what was natural forest.”
-- Ian Redmond, biologist and conservationist known for his work with great apes

When the Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis) was identified in 2017, it was the first time since the 1920s that a new species of great ape had been discovered. The 1100 sq km Batang Toru Ecosystem is their only home. It is also home to the critically endangered Sumatran tiger, pangolin and helmeted hornbill. Sun bears, tapir, serow and a host of other rare endangered species, including more than 300 bird species, also rely on this habitat.

In all recorded human history, no great ape has been made extinct. This is one of humanity’s closest relatives, and we now have only a small window left before it’s too late to save them.


Déforestation: Cooperl, premier fabricant d’aliments à s’engager pour un soja durable

Déforestation: Cooperl, premier fabricant d’aliments à s’engager pour un soja durable


Angers, 26 octobre 2021 – Nos organisations de défense de l’environnement saluent l’engagement de la coopérative de porc et fabricant d’aliments pour animaux Cooperl avec la signature du “Manifeste des acteurs français pour lutter contre la déforestation”

Déjà avancée dans une démarche d’approvisionnement durable, la coopérative Cooperl renforce son engagement en rejoignant le mouvement pour un soja sans déforestation amorcé il y a un an par la grande distribution.

En signant ce manifeste, l’entreprise s’engage notamment à inclure une clause contractuelle de non déforestation dans ses contrats avec ses fournisseurs. Nico Muzi, directeur Europe de Mighty Earth, commente: “Nous accueillons favorablement la démarche de Cooperl de ne s’approvisionner qu’en soja non issu de la déforestation. Mais c’est sur leurs actions qu’ils seront jugés, par sur leurs intentions. Cooperl doit donc signer de nouveaux contrats spécifiant bien que le soja produit sur des sols convertis après la date butoir de 2020 pour le Cerrado Brésilien ne sera plus accepté. C’est le seul moyen de forcer les grandes entreprises de soja Cargill et Bunge à arrêter de contribuer à la déforestation.”

La coopérative reconnaît ainsi le rôle des fabricants d’aliments dans la lutte contre la déforestation liée au soja. Pour Klervi Le Guenic, chargée de campagne forêts tropicales à Canopée: “Cooperl est le premier maillon face aux négociants comme Cargill et Bunge, au cœur de la filière, et exposés à un risque de déforestation d’environ 60 000 ha chacun entre mars 2019 et 2021. Après l’engagement des enseignes de la grande distribution en novembre 2020 et celui du géant de la volaille LDC en février dernier, celui de Cooperl enfonce le clou: les négociants de soja ne peuvent pas continuer à déforester sans en payer les conséquences.”

Le soja est la première cause de déforestation importée de la France. Provenant principalement du Brésil où son expansion est responsable de la destruction des savanes et forêts, il est en grande majorité (87% au niveau européen) destiné à l’alimentation animale.

Cet engagement arrive au moment où la Commission européenne prépare une proposition de loi contre la déforestation importée, mais qui risque de ne pas protéger les savanes arborées, principal écosystème menacé par la culture du soja. Cette succession d’engagements montre bien l’importance de cette question pour les entreprises européennes et doit inciter à l’extension du périmètre de cette loi.

Contacts média:

Klervi Le Guenic, Canopée: +33 752 64 08 54, [email protected]

Nico Muzi, Mighty Earth: +32 484 27 87 91, [email protected]


Why Rubber Must be Kept in the EU’s Anti-Deforestation Law

Why Rubber Must be Kept in the EU’s Anti-Deforestation Law

 

Read the full Mighty Earth report on the EU’s anti-deforestation law

Mighty Earth is gravely concerned that rubber has been excluded from the European Commission’s proposed new anti-deforestation legislation to tackle EU-driven deforestation – and joins civil society and Indigenous peoples’ groups calling for rubber to be restored to the EU’s flagship law designed to eradicate deforestation from its global commodity supply chains. Due for release on 17 November 2021, the EU’s new anti-deforestation law will apply to key Forest and Ecosystem-Risk Commodities (FERCs) – which until recently was anticipated would cover key known forest-risk commodities,[1] including natural rubber.

However, a leaked European Commission Impact Assessment [2] shows rubber has been dropped from the list of commodities covered by the forthcoming legislation. Instead, the new law will only apply to beef, palm oil, soy, wood, cocoa and coffee. The EC’s ssessment ranked rubber as responsible for the second lowest amount of embedded deforestation out of eight forest-risk commodities assessed, and concluded that including natural rubber in the legislation,

“…would require a very large effort, with little return in terms of curbing deforestation driven by EU consumption.”

Listed as one of the EU’s critical raw materials, the EU is a key actor in global rubber markets. The EU consumed an estimated 1.02 million tonnes of natural rubber for vehicle tires and non-tire use in 2020,[3] some 318 million auto tires were produced in European plants last year, [4] and three of the six largest global tyre and rubber corporations – Michelin, Continental and Pirelli – are based in the EU. With latest industry forecasts showing rubber demand is set to boom by a third by 2030,[5] this briefing sets out key reasons why failure to include rubber in the EU’s flagship anti-deforestation law poses a grave threat to millions of hectares of tropical forests and biodiversity in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America over the coming decade.

Working with a global rubber and deforestation expert, Mighty Earth analysed the dataset used in the EC Impact Assessment to quantify the embodied deforestation figures for rubber. We found that the dataset used by the European Commission only covers unprocessed natural rubber imports into the EU, and so misses large quantities of imports of processed rubber tires and other products, much of which may include embodied deforestation. We estimate embodied deforestation data for about two thirds of all natural rubber imports into the EU are potentially missing in the EC's impact assessment for rubber. In the light of this incomplete and flawed data, we believe the EC’s assessment may significantly underestimate the amount of potential deforestation embedded within natural rubber imports to the European Union.

We believe dropping rubber based on flawed deforestation data would be a major mistake and a huge set-back in the fight against deforestation, biodiversity loss and the achievement of the EU’s climate change goals.

1) Rubber booms cause mass deforestation and biodiversity loss

Fuelled by a boom in market demand, rapid expansion in rubber production since 2000 has had a devastating impact on millions of hectares of forests, ecosystems, habitats and biodiversity, as well as the human rights and livelihoods of hundreds of local and Indigenous communities.[6]

A study last year found over five million hectares of tropical forests were cleared across mainland Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa for rubber plantations between 2003 and 2017.[7] Similarly, a 2018 study [8] for the European Commission attributes some three million hectares of forest loss in Southeast Asia alone – including in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam – directly to an increase in rubber cultivation since 2000.[9]  In one of the worst-hit countries, Cambodia, over half a million hectares of tropical forest was cleared and replaced with rubber trees between 2001-2015 – accounting for 23% of Cambodia’s gross forest loss.[10]  Studies show much of the rubber now grown in Cambodia ends up in European auto tyres; an estimated 25% of the rubber land share harvested in Cambodia goes to produce tyres in the EU.[11]

To highlight the devastating impact of unrestrained rubber expansion, groups like Greenpeace, Global Witness, Oakland Institute, Inclusive Development International and Mighty Earth have documented harrowing evidence of widespread deforestation, land degradation, forced eviction, illegal logging, livelihood destruction, harassment, threats, intimidation, criminalisation, human rights abuses, and biodiversity and habitat loss linked to the expansion of monoculture rubber plantations in numerous tropical countries, including in Cambodia, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Laos, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

2) Rubber demand set for 33% boom by 2030

There is a lack of official, openly available data on most aspects related to natural rubber use and production. Currently operating within these constraints, academics find nearly three quarters of global rubber production is used to produce tyres,[12] however, rubber is also used in numerous other ways, from engineering and industrial applications, to boots, mats, condoms, apparel and latex gloves. Following a recent lull in expansion and a sharp contraction under Covid-19, global demand for natural rubber will soon exceed pre-pandemic levels[13] and is forecast to jump by a third by 2030.[14] Based on latest industry figures, the International Rubber Study Group (IRSG) forecasts global natural rubber demand is set to boom by 33% by 2030 – up from 12.7 million tonnes in 2020 to 16.9 million tonnes in 2030.[15] Similarly, IRSG figures show global consumption of natural rubber for tires and tire products is forecast to jump by 28% over the decade to 2030 – rising from 9,125,000 tonnes in 2020 to 11,720,000 tonnes in 2030.[16]

3) Mass deforestation, carbon emissions, biodiversity loss & species extinction predicted

Geographically restricted to growing Havea brasiliensis rubber trees in the tropics and within certain latitudes, smallholder farmers produce about 80% of the world’s rubber on about 12 million hectares of land – often competing for land and forests with other tropical crops such oil palm, cocoa or cassava.[17] With rubber yields not increasing,[18] scientists say meeting increased demand still requires more land area and will not be met by increased yields on existing planted rubber area.[19]

Alarmingly, leading rubber academic experts say millions of hectares of forest clearances are predicted as rubber demand rises and warn of associated damaging carbon emissions[20] and catastrophic biodiversity [21] and major species losses – including increased extinction risks for some 74 extinction-threatened mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles – including threatened bats, frogs and forest shrews.[22]  Scientists estimate conversion of intact forest to rubber will generate carbon losses of 141.5 tC per ha in dense forest and 51.5 tC per ha in open forest, [23] and found conversion of lowland forest to rubber generates soil organic carbon emissions, too.[24]

To give a sense of the scale of the dire threat posed to forests, ecosystems and biodiversity, academics estimated in 2015 that 4.3–-8.5 million ha of additional rubber plantations were required to meet rising demand by 2024,[25] while industry estimates in 2018 found 2.5--3.9 million ha of additional land area will be required to meet rising demand by 2027.[26]

4) EU rubber consumption to grow 14% by 2030

While the bulk of the additional demand for natural rubber will go to booming Chinese and Asia-Pacific markets,[27] consumption in the EU is still highly significant. As the second largest rubber trading block to China, the EU consumes some 9% of the natural rubber produced globally. [28] Furthermore, the IRSG forecasts EU consumption of natural rubber is set to rise steadily by 14.5% over the decade to 2030 – rising from 1.023m tonnes in 2020 to 1.171m tonnes in 2030.[29]  A recent study demonstrates that mobility in the EU (for personal and goods transport) uses nearly a fifth of the annual harvest of natural rubber in several producer countries, contributing to the expansion of rubber plantations in the tropics.[30] The study finds car use is the main driver of natural rubber consumption in the EU and notes that car use is likely to increase with the economic development of eastern EU countries (see Fig.2).[31]

5) EU’s rubber land footprint set to grow

The EU’s global rubber land footprint is already large and is expected to grow. An estimated area of 594,000 ha is required to produce the natural rubber consumed annually through tire use in the EU,[32] corresponding to 5% of total global area harvested annually.[33] This land footprint is mainly located in Indonesia (32%), Thailand (23%), Malaysia (11%), Cote d’Ivoire (10%), and China (10%).

At the national level the share of land harvested to produce tires for use in the EU is particularly high in Cambodia (25%), while in Cote d’Ivoire (see Fig.4), Guinea and Cameroon, more than 15% of the area under mature rubber plantations serves European mobility (for passenger cars, trucks and vans).[34] While the primary hotspot for rubber expansion is Southeast Asia, scientists say similar trends are being observed in Africa.[35] Furthermore, the EU’s strategy to reduce its dependence on Southeast Asia[36] means that Africa is likely the new deforestation frontier. An estimated 25% of the natural rubber imported into Europe now originates from Africa,[37] and expansion could occur in climatically suitable but highly biodiverse new frontiers such as Guinea [38] or Central Africa, where foreign investment in industrial plantations is welcome, threatening vast areas of forested land that are not adequately protected by governments.[39]

6) Rubber was previously considered a FERC by the EC, and is still considered a FERC by the US and UK

The European Commission’s decision to drop rubber from the EU’s flagship anti-deforestation legislative proposal has little logical basis. Rapid expansion of rubber production in Southeast Asia and other tropical and sub-tropical areas has long been identified by the EC and other key actors [40] as one of the top seven agricultural imports into the EU associated with deforestation and forest degradation.

As early as 2013, a major report [41] for the European Commission on imported deforestation identified rubber as an important contributor to deforestation, while a key follow-up study for the EC in 2018 [42] and a subsequent EC Communication report to the EU Parliament in 2019 included rubber alongside palm oil, meat, beef, soy, cocoa, coffee, maize and timber as key agricultural imports into the EU associated with deforestation and forest degradation.[43]

Most importantly, the European Parliament passed a Resolution[44] on 22 October 2020 which recommended the European Commission draw up a legal proposal to tackle imported deforestation and instructed the EC that the proposal should cover all commodities that are most frequently associated with deforestation, degradation of natural forests and conversion and degradation of natural ecosystems.[45] Significantly, the Resolution instructed the EC that the list of commodities covered by the law should comprise “at least palm oil soy, meat, leather, cocoa, coffee, rubber and maize.” [46] Furthermore, other key countries that are currently drawing up similar supply chain anti-deforestation draft legislation, such as the US and UK, currently both include rubber as a key forest and ecosystem-risk commodities.

 7) Flawed deforestation data used in EC Impact Assessment

Mighty Earth has reviewed a copy of the leaked European Commission Impact Assessment and assessed the key research dataset with which the EC based their cost-benefit analysis to assess the share of embodied deforestation for a list of eight forest-risk commodities between 2008-2017 (see Fig.1).

Figure 1: Individual share of EU-embodied deforestation due to the eight pre-selected commodities between 2008-2017, Source: Pendrill F, Persson U M, Kastner T, 2020 (EC Impact Assessment, 2021)

The EC Impact Assessment cost-benefit analysis finds that rubber and maize contain the least amount of embodied deforestation out of the eight commodities (see Fig.2).

Figure 2: Cost-benefit analysis of commodities for the scope other than wood

Source: Pendrill F, Persson U M, Kastner T (2020) and own elaboration (EC Impact Assessment, 2021)

The EC Impact Assessment cost-benefit analysis concludes:

“Maize and rubber account for the smallest fraction of embodied deforestation among the commodities analysed, while their trade volumes are very large (around EUR 2.8 billion per year for maize and 17.6 billion for rubber). Including these two commodities in the scope would require a very large effort, with little return in terms of curbing deforestation driven by EU consumption.” 

However, having confirmed with a lead author [47]of the Pendrill et al (2020) [48] embodied deforestation dataset and research[49] – used in the EC Impact Assessment cost-benefit analysis – and taken advice from a global academic expert in natural rubber, deforestation and sustainability issues,[50] Mighty Earth’s considered position is that the Pendrill et al (2020) dataset [51] used by the EC for their analysis of embodied deforestation for natural rubber in particular has specific limitations that mean that they may significantly underestimate the amount of embodied deforestation for rubber imported into the EU.

The key flaw in the use of the Pendrill et al (2020) dataset [52] to assess embodied deforestation for rubber imported to the EU is that the dataset only assessed data from the FAOSTAT database relating to trade to the EU in unprocessed natural rubber. An author of the Pendrill et al dataset recently confirmed to Mighty Earth that “processed rubber imports are not included in our numbers.” [53] This confirmation is significant because it means that large quantities of processed new rubber tire products imported into the EU – which potentially contain large amounts of embodied deforestation – are left out entirely from the dataset and its use therefore may significantly underestimates the embodied deforestation risk for rubber in the EC’s key assessment.

A more recent and in-depth analysis of the rubber supply chain for tires into the EU from the same research group, drawing on FAOSTAT but also COMTRADE databases of processed rubber products, shows that very substantial shares of processed natural rubber produced in countries with expanding rubber area (Cote d’Ivoire, Thailand, Indonesia) are imported to the EU.[54] It is highly likely that a re-analysis by the EC of embodied deforestation in processed rubber products captured by the COMTRADE database would substantially increase embodied deforestation risk, and that this risk is particularly high in Africa where deforestation for agro-industrial plantations is actively encouraged, and where the EU seeks to increase its share of rubber imports from.

Mighty Earth recently searched the Eurostat database for both unprocessed rubber and processed rubber imports – including processed new tires, inner tubes, apparel, hygiene and pharmaceutical articles and vulcanised rubber – and found 5.9 million tonnes in total were imported into the EU in 2019, including 2.3 million tonnes of unprocessed natural rubber, as well as 1.2 million tonnes of processed new rubber tires, and 841,000 tonnes of processed rubber inner tubes, pharmaceutical articles, apparel, retreaded tires and vulcanised rubber products.[55] in short, we found the rubber-related data referred to in the EC assessment captures less than three quarters of gross natural rubber imported into the EU, and so may significantly underestimate the amount of embodied deforestation from all natural rubber coming into Europe. Dropping rubber from the EU’s anti-deforestation law on the basis of inaccurate or incomplete deforestation data for rubber seems entirely flawed and unscientific.

Conclusion: The European Commission should restore rubber to EU anti-deforestation law

The EU plays a central role in the global rubber and tire supply chain. Seven out of ten of the top global tire and rubber corporations have their headquarters or key rubber and tire plants in Europe – including industry giants such Bridgestone, Continental, Goodyear, Hankook, Michelin, Pirelli and Sumitomo. [56] With global rubber demand set to boom by a third by 2030 and steady growth in EU consumption forecast, the threat of millions of hectares of deforestation of biodiversity and carbon-rich forests and ecosystems over the coming years is real, and extremely urgent. That’s why we’re urging the EU to restore rubber to the EU’s flagship anti-deforestation law and pressing the EU to act now to do its part to eliminate deforestation and rights abuses from global rubber supply chains and consumer markets.

 Author:

Alex Wijeratna, Mighty Earth, Director of Special Projects


[1] European Commission (2019) Communication from The Commission to the European Parliament, The Council, The European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, Stepping up EU Action to Protect and Restore the World’s Forests, 23 July 2019

[2]Leaked EU anti-deforestation law omits fragile grasslands and wetlands’, The Guardian, 14 September 2021, Jennifer Rankin

[3] IRSG (2021) World Rubber Industry Outlook: Review and Prospects, July 2021, IRSG: Singapore

[4] ETRMA (2020) The European Tyre Industry Facts and Figures 2020 Edition, European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers’ Association (ETRMA): Brussels

[5] IRSG (2021) World Rubber Industry Outlook: Review and Prospects, July 2021, IRSG: Singapore

[6] Millard E (2019) Recent Experiences from the Natural Rubber Industry and its Movement Towards Sustainability, Sustainable global value chains, 1st ed. Ed. M. Schmidt, 499-520. Springer: New York

[7] Wang M H et al (2020) Reconciling Rubber Expansion with Biodiversity Conservation, Current Biology 30, 3825-3832, 5 October 2020

[8] COWI (2018) Feasibility study on options to step up EU action against deforestation, Final Report, COWI A/S, Denmark

[9] COWI (2018) Feasibility study on options to step up EU action against deforestation, Final Report, COWI A/S, Denmark

[10] Grogan K et al (2019) Unravelling the link between global rubber price and tropical deforestation in Cambodia, Nature Plants, Vol 5, January 2019, 47-53

[11] Laroche P et al (2021) Assessing the contribution of mobility in the European Union to rubber expansion, Ambio, A Journal of the Human Environment, 12 June 2021

[12] Laroche P et al (2021) Assessing the contribution of mobility in the European Union to rubber expansion, Ambio, A Journal of the Human Environment, 12 June 2021

[13] IRSG (2021) World Rubber Industry Outlook: Review and Prospects, July 2021, International Rubber Study Group: Singapore

[14] IRSG (2021) World Rubber Industry Outlook: Review and Prospects, July 2021, IRSG: Singapore

[15] IRSG (2021) World Rubber Industry Outlook: Review and Prospects, July 2021, IRSG: Singapore

[16] IRSG (2021) World Rubber Industry Outlook: Review and Prospects, July 2021, IRSG: Singapore

[17] Millard E (2019) Recent Experiences from the Natural Rubber Industry and its Movement Towards Sustainability, Sustainable global value chains, 1st ed. Ed. M Schmidt 499-520. Springer: New York

[18] FAOSTAT global natural rubber yield data, downloaded 6 October 2021

[19] Personal communication, Dr Eleanor Warren-Thomas, School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, 6 October 2021

[20] Warren-Thomas E et al (2018) Protecting tropical forests from the rapid expansion of rubber using carbon payments, Nature Communications, Art. 911 (2018), 2 March 2018

[21] Warren-Thomas E et al (2015) Increasing Demand for Natural Rubber Necessitates a Robust Sustainability Initiative to Mitigate Impacts on Tropical Biodiversity, Conservation Letters, July/August 2015, 8(4), 230-241

[22] Wang M H et al (2020) Reconciling Rubber Expansion with Biodiversity Conservation, Current Biology 30, 3825-3832, 5 October 2020

[23] Warren-Thomas E et al (2018) Protecting tropical forests from the rapid expansion of rubber using carbon payments, Nature Communications, Art. 911 (2018), 2 March 2018

[24] van Stratten O (2015) Conversion of lowland tropical forests to tree cash crop plantations loses up to one-half of stored soil organic carbon, PNAS, 11 August 2015, 112(32) 9956-9960, 27 July 2015, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)

[25] Warren-Thomas E et al (2015) Increasing Demand for Natural Rubber Necessitates a Robust Sustainability Initiative to Mitigate Impacts on Tropical Biodiversity, Conservation Letters, July/August 2015, 8(4), 230-241

[26] IRSG (2018) World Rubber Industry Outlook: Review and Prospects to 2027, June 2018, IRSG: Singapore

[27] IRSG (2021) World Rubber Industry Outlook: Review and Prospects, July 2021, IRSG: Singapore

[28] ETRMA (2019) Sustainable Natural Rubber & European Commission Deforestation Agenda, 21 February 2019, ETRMA: Brussels

[29] IRSG (2021) World Rubber Industry Outlook: Review and Prospects, July 2021, IRSG: Singapore

[30] Laroche P et al (2021) Assessing the contribution of mobility in the European Union to rubber expansion, Ambio, A Journal of the Human Environment, 12 June 2021

[31] Laroche P et al (2021) Assessing the contribution of mobility in the European Union to rubber expansion, Ambio, A Journal of the Human Environment, 12 June 2021

[32] Laroche P et al (2021) Assessing the contribution of mobility in the European Union to rubber expansion, Ambio, A Journal of the Human Environment, 12 June 2021

[33] ETRMA (2019) Sustainable Natural Rubber & European Commission Deforestation Agenda, 21 February 2019, ETRMA: Brussels

[34] Laroche P et al (2021) Assessing the contribution of mobility in the European Union to rubber expansion, Ambio, A Journal of the Human Environment, 12 June 2021

[35] Laroche P et al (2021) Assessing the contribution of mobility in the European Union to rubber expansion, Ambio, A Journal of the Human Environment, 12 June 2021

[36] ETRMA (2019) Sustainable Natural Rubber & European Commission Deforestation Agenda, 21 February 2019, ETRMA: Brussels

[37] Laroche P et al (2021) Assessing the contribution of mobility in the European Union to rubber expansion, Ambio, A Journal of the Human Environment, 12 June 2021

[38] Wang M H et al (2020) Reconciling Rubber Expansion with Biodiversity Conservation, Current Biology 30, 3825-3832, 5 October 2020

[39] Feintrenie L (2014) Agro-industrial plantations in Central Africa, risks and opportunities, Biodiversity and Conservation, Ed. Hawksworth DL, June 2014, 23:1577-1589

[40] See: WWF (2021) Deforestation Fronts, Drivers and Responses in a Changing World, WWF: Gland, Switzerland; WRI (2020) Estimating the Role of Seven Commodities in Agriculture-linked Deforestation: Oil palm, Soy, Cattle, Wood Fiber, Cococa, and Rubber, Technical Note, October 2020, World Resources Institute: Washington DC, United States

[41] EC (2013) The impact of EU consumption on deforestation: Comprehensive analysis of the impact of EU consumption on deforestation, Final Report, Technical Report 2013, 063, European Commission, DG Environment: Brussels

[42] COWI (2018) Feasibility study on options to step up EU action against deforestation, Final Report, COWI A/S, Denmark

[43] European Commission (2019) Communication from The Commission to the European Parliament, The Council, The European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, Stepping up EU Action to Protect and Restore the World’s Forests, 23 July 2019

[44] European Parliament resolution of 22 October 2020 with recommendations to the Commission on an EU legal framework to halt and reverse EU-driven global deforestation 2020/2006(INL), see: https://bit.ly/2YLl5pV

[45] European Parliament resolution of 22 October 2020 with recommendations to the Commission on an EU legal framework to halt and reverse EU-driven global deforestation 2020/2006(INL), see: https://bit.ly/2YLl5pV

[46] European Parliament resolution of 22 October 2020 with recommendations to the Commission on an EU legal framework to halt and reverse EU-driven global deforestation 2020/2006(INL), see: https://bit.ly/2YLl5pV

[47] Personal communications with Florence Pendrill, PhD student, Department of Space, Earth and Environment, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden, 30 September 2021 to 6 October 2021

[48] Pendrill F et al (2020) Deforestation risk embodied in production and consumption of agricultural and forestry commodities 2005-2017, see: https://bit.ly/3lcP96U

[49] See: Pendrill et al (2019) Deforestation displaced: trade in forest-risk commodities and the prospects for a global forest transition, Environmental Research Letters, 14 (2019) 055003, 1 May 2019; Pendrill F et al (2019) Agricultural and forestry trade drives large share of tropical deforestation emissions. Global Environmental Change, Vol. 56, May 2019, 1-10

[50] Personal communication, Dr Eleanor Warren-Thomas, School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, United Kingdom, 6 October 2021

[51] See: Pendrill F et al (2020) Deforestation risk embodied in production and consumption of agricultural and forestry commodities 2005-2017, see: https://bit.ly/3lcP96U; Pendrill et al (2019) Deforestation displaced: trade in forest-risk commodities and the prospects for a global forest transition, Environmental Research Letters, 14 (2019) 055003, 1 May 2019; Pendrill F et al (2019) Agricultural and forestry trade drives large share of tropical deforestation emissions. Global Environmental Change, Vol. 56, May 2019, 1-10

[52] Pendrill F et al (2020) Deforestation risk embodied in production and consumption of agricultural and forestry commodities 2005-2017, see: https://bit.ly/3lcP96U

[53] Personal communication with Florence Pendrill, PhD Student, Department of Space, Earth and Environment, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden, 6 October 2021

[54] Laroche P et al (2021) Assessing the contribution of mobility in the European Union to rubber expansion, Ambio, A Journal of the Human Environment, 12 June 2021

[55] Eurostat data on natural and process rubber imports into EU from Jan-December 2019, accessed by Dr Eleanor Warren-Thomas on 8 October 2021

[56] ETRMA (2019) European Tyre & Rubber Industry Statistics, Edition 2019, ETRMA: Brussels


U.S. Companies’ Complicity in Illegal Deforestation

Today, Mighty Earth joined with a number of civil society organizations in commending Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) for introducing the FOREST Act, a landmark plan to require importers of high-risk agricultural commodities and products to analyze supply chains and show evidence that their imports are not contributing to illegal deforestation. The Senate bill has several cosponsors including Senators Warren (D-MA), Booker (D-NJ), Heinrich (D-NM), Coons (D-DE), Merkeley (D-OR), Whitehouse (D-RI), and Murphy (D-CT). The joint press release announcing the introduction is here, and an open letter from Mighty Earth and many other civil society organizations is here.


In response, Glenn Hurowitz, CEO of Mighty Earth, released the following statement:

“It’s just common sense that companies should only sell legally-produced deforestation free goods to Americans. Most Americans don’t want to worry that biting into a Big Mac is endangering sloths or jaguars.   In an age of transparency and accountability, it’s simply no longer acceptable for companies to claim ignorance about the origins of their products. It’s not okay for U.S. companies to be complicit in deforestation.”

“Senator Schatz’s FOREST Act is a landmark piece of legislation that would require companies to understand where their products come from. And it will help them get there: the financial and technical help in this plan will go a long way toward rebuilding the sort of international partnerships we need to tackle the climate crisis.”


Fomenting a “Perfect Storm” to push companies to change: Q&A with Glenn Hurowitz

Fomenting a “Perfect Storm” to push companies to change: Q&A with Glenn Hurowitz

Fomenting a “Perfect Storm” to push companies to change: Q&A with Glenn Hurowitz

  • Over the past few years, Mighty Earth has emerged as one of the most influential advocacy groups when it comes pushing companies to clean up their supply chains. The group, has targeted companies that produce, trade, and source deforestation-risk commodities like beef, palm oil, cocoa, rubber, and soy.
  • Mighty Earth is led by Glenn Hurowitz, an activist who has spent the better part of the past 20 years advocating for forests and forest-dependent communities. In that capacity, Hurowitz has played a central role in pressing some of the world’s largest companies to adopt zero deforestation, peatlands, and exploitation (ZDPE) commitments.
  • Mighty Earth’s strategy is built on what Hurowitz calls the “Perfect Storm” approach: “We work to bring pressure on a target from multiple different angles in a relatively compressed time period to the point that it becomes irresistible: their customers, financiers, media, grassroots, digital, direct engagement with the company,” he explained. “It’s an application of the basic principles of classical military strategy, combined with social change theory and a lot of hard-won experience to the field of environmental campaigning.
  • Hurowitz spoke about how to drive change, the evolution of environmental activism, and a range of other topics during an August 2021 conversation with Mongabay founder Rhett A. Butler.

Over the past five years, Mighty Earth has emerged as one of the most influential advocacy groups when it comes pushing companies to clean up their supply chains. The group, which had its origins as the Forest Heroes campaign before evolving into a standalone non-profit organization, has targeted companies that produce, trade, and source deforestation-risk commodities like beef, palm oil, cocoa, rubber, and soy.

Mighty Earth’s approach typically starts with research and analysis of how commodities move through supply chains. From there, the group creates colorful and hard-hitting campaigns that usually take aim at consumer-facing companies, like Kellogg or Burger King, or firms that sell to them, like American agribusiness giant Cargill or Indonesia’s Korindo. Mighty Earth will often collaborate with activist investors, like Green Century Capital Management, and leverage connections with media outlets to amplify the impact of its campaigns.

Mighty Earth is led by Glenn Hurowitz, an activist who has spent the better part of the past 20 years advocating for forests and forest-dependent communities. In that capacity, Hurowitz has played a central role in pressing some of the world’s largest companies to adopt zero deforestation, peatlands, and exploitation (ZDPE) commitments.

Glenn Hurowitz in Gabon
Glenn Hurowitz in Gabon

Arguably Hurowitz’s biggest “win” came in 2013, when he persuaded Kuok Khoon Hong, the CEO of Wilmar, the world’s largest palm oil trader, to meet with NGOs about its sourcing practices. Already under pressure from a range of campaigners, financiers, and other actors at the time, Wilmar eventually would go on to establish a ZDPE policy that ushered in a wave of commitments from other players in the sector.

“The successful negotiations with Wilmar were really just the culmination of a broader strategy and campaign that spanned the world,” Hurowitz told Mongabay. “Choosing Wilmar as the key target wasn’t the automatic decision it might seem now. Many people thought at the time that they were too big, too conservative, and too opaque to change.”

“But the most important factor was their size – they were the biggest, and therefore had the potential to unlock the transformation of the whole industry,” he continued. “Change Wilmar, you change the whole industry. As the biggest, they also had greater freedom to set the standard within the industry without worrying so much that their competitors would undermine them.”

Getting Wilmar to begin the shift away from business-as-usual practices involved what Hurowitz calls the “Perfect Storm” approach.

“We work to bring pressure on a target from multiple different angles in a relatively compressed time period to the point that it becomes irresistible: their customers, financiers, media, grassroots, digital, direct engagement with the company,” he explained. “It’s an application of the basic principles of classical military strategy, combined with social change theory and a lot of hard-won experience to the field of environmental campaigning. We apply principles like concentration of force, agility, and momentum to our campaigns, and our effort to change Wilmar and the whole of commodity agriculture industry really followed those principles.”

Rainforest clearing for oil palm in Gorontalo, Sulawesi in 2016. Photo credit: NASA Landsat
Rainforest clearing for oil palm in Gorontalo, Sulawesi in 2016. Photo credit: NASA Landsat

That being said, eight years on, there remains a gap between Wilmar’s ambitions — represented by its commitment — and the actual implementation of its policies: Like other companies that have adopted ZDPE commitments, Wilmar still has deforestation in its supply chain.

“[Wilmar] hasn’t always been a leader in every aspect of NDPE implementation,” said Hurowitz. “While they have helped lead the other companies to make enforcement of their palm oil policies much more rapid, they and others have not fulfilled repeated commitments to create a transparent industry-wide deforestation and human rights monitoring system. As a result, it still falls to our Rapid Response system and other NGO efforts to police Wilmar and its industry peers. With the industry’s vastly greater resources, that’s just not right.”

Hurowitz spoke about how to drive change, the evolution of environmental activism, and a range of other topics during an August 2021 conversation with Mongabay founder Rhett A. Butler.

AN INTERVIEW WITH GLENN HUROWITZ

Mongabay: What inspired your interest in environmental issues? And what keeps you motivated?

Glenn Hurowitz: From a very early age, I’ve had a deep love of animals and Nature. I grew up in the Hudson Valley in New York State, one of the cradles of America’s early conservation movement. The river is three miles wide in my hometown. Most evenings, I got to watch the sun go down behind the red cliffs of the Palisades, one of the most stunning sites in Nature. Indeed, views like those were the inspiration for the famed Hudson River School of early American naturalist, romantic painting that itself helped inspire early American conservation.

The Hudson River itself is a big part of why I’m an environmentalist, and why I can maintain hope even in the face of great adversity. When I was a kid, the Hudson was beloved, but also seen as dirty and dangerous to swim in or eat fish from. It suffered from more than a century of industrial abuse, especially from General Electric and Monsanto’s dumping of PCBs and other toxic pollutants until 1977. The Indian Point nuclear power plant just miles from my home sucked up billions of fish and other organisms every year as part of its antiquated cooling system. I woke up every morning to a view of the Hudson, and I would think about how amazing it was, but also about the pollution.

But over the course of my childhood, I saw the fruits of citizens organizing to protect the environment. Folk singer Pete Seeger had launched the sloop Clearwater in the 1960s to bring attention to the river; his small band of citizens galvanized a movement that pressured the government to clean up the river. Under sustained pressure from the Riverkeeper organization and others, the federal government forced a clean-up of the PCBs. It took decades, but it succeeded. And just this year, after decades of citizen organizing and sustained pressure, the Indian Point nuclear power plant shut down. It’s now a real thrill for me to go swimming in the Hudson River, and know that doing so is safe. It’s pretty common to see bald eagles on the banks of the river, and even whales now visit the lower part of the river again.

So, I had the great benefit in my own community of being able to see that citizen organizing could make the impossible reality. I’ve really just tried to make that happen over and over again.

There were other personal experiences that probably had a big impact and maybe helped draw me to agricultural issues like going every summer to visit my grandparents and cousins in the small village in rural Ireland where my mom grew up. I got to work with my grandfather in his small farm and turf bog. I probably had more exposure to agriculture and rural life than most Americans.

Glenn Hurowitz cutting turf in Ireland with his grandfather Denis Canning.
Glenn Hurowitz cutting turf in Ireland with his grandfather Denis Canning. Hurowitz says he formed a deep connection with nature during his youth

The other major event in my early life that launched me on the trajectory I’m on today was more political: global warming hitting the headlines for the first time in a big way when I was 10 years old. James Hansen’s Congressional testimony about the existential perils of climate change got lots of attention. I became really distressed about it to the point that I would be in the middle of a sports game and instead of focusing on whacking the ball, would start to think about global warming.

Instead of plunging into despair, I decided to do something about it – and started lugging a giant trash bag around with me, collecting cans to recycle. I was always trying to encourage recycling at school, camp, and in different places. I’m not sure other kids quite knew what to make of me: I played sports, did all sorts of regular kid activities, dressed kind of preppy, but then would also have a big trash bag trailing me at times. I guess I was kind of like a little Greta Thunberg without the global following.

I also learned at school about how important rainforests were, and it really grabbed me. When I was in middle school, we had a “Run for the Rainforest.” The kids asked parents, friends, and others to sponsor them for a certain amount per lap run around the school playground. I dived into the fundraising with great gusto and ran my heart out, and we raised several thousand dollars for rainforest conservation. I didn’t really know what else to do about the rainforest, but from then on, I always read avidly about it and thought a lot about what was happening to the rainforest.

I went to Yale for college and pursued a strong interest in journalism by writing for The Yale Daily News. It was a wonderful learning experience in so many ways. I covered loads of topics, but tried to mix in environmental coverage whenever I could. I thought that exposing environmental issues through writing about them would lead to change. I wrote about inefficient buildings, pollution at Connecticut power plants, the impact of meat eating, gaps in environmental education, and other topics. But it was pretty hard for me to detect much concrete impact from my writing. So, my senior year, I got involved with the Yale Student Environmental Coalition and worked on campaigns to green our campus and make Big Oil’s campus recruiting efforts toxic. After graduating, I went overseas for a year and, among other things, lived on a farm working in organic agriculture. But then George W. Bush got elected, and I decided I should move back to the United States to try to help save the planet from him in some small way. The only problem was that I had no idea how to do it.

I called an organizer who had worked with our campus group and told her what I wanted to do. She recommended that I apply for a year-long environmental organizing fellowship called Green Corps. It takes recent college graduates and trains them in all the skills you need to run and win environmental campaigns from grassroots recruitment to working with the media to building coalitions. I remember going to the interview weekend, and being pretty sure I wouldn’t get in. There were so many people who had far more experience than I did in environmental organizing. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure what “organizing” really meant. But they took a chance on me, and it turned out to be the most important year of my career.

The other fellows and I did a month of training at the beginning of the year in Boston in the basics of organizing and campaigning, and then were sent out to different states to help local campaigns on behalf of national or state environmental organizations. For my first assignment, I went to California with eight other Green Corps organizers to support a Greenpeace campaign with a goal of securing $2 billion from the State of California and community college districts to shift funds away from natural gas and towards clean energy.

The core of the job was getting people involved at the grassroots. That meant giving them a sense of their own potential to make a difference on really big issues. I quickly saw evidence that it worked. One of my jobs was to help organize a lobby day at the State Capitol in Sacramento where we asked the volunteers we’d recruited to meet with their representatives. We held more than sixty meetings. At the end of the day, we gathered with our volunteers in the hallways of the State Capitol to recap and celebrate the day. While we were cheering and chanting, California’s Energy Czar, our main target, sought us out in the hallways to debate us for an hour. It struck me that the fact that he was talking to us seemed to bode well even if he was arguing with us. The very next week, California announced its first big investment in clean energy. Ultimately, our organizing and Greenpeace’s continued efforts secured way more than the $2 billion we were initially seeking. That was one of the early large investments in solar that helped drive lower costs around the world.

One of the great things about Green Corps was it gave you the opportunity to work in a really diverse array of communities. I worked for a while in Watts and East Los Angeles to recruit community college students to advocate for solar in their campuses; later, I went to Miami, and then North Dakota and Pittsburgh – so I had the opportunity to work in majority Black and Chicano communities, but also almost completely rural Great Plains communities. I must say that what struck me in those experiences was the commonality between different communities’ struggle to protect their environments, not the differences. Sure, there were different contexts, characters, histories, and issues. But for the most part I found that the fights were fundamentally between people of compassion and the capacity to imagine that things might not be always as they were working to overcome greed, fear, and more than anything inertia inside big institutions. This conflict is often expressed as “organized people vs. organized money,” and it is that. But it’s as often as much a battle of conviction, will, and backbone.

Glenn Hurowitz in Gabon with local partners
Glenn Hurowitz in Gabon with local partners

Organizing is hard work and full of challenges, and I was just learning how to do it. But it was worth it when people got involved in a really deep way, sometimes making a lifelong commitment to the environment. It was thrilling when people would overcome their fears and speak at a government meeting, or even just take a small step like writing a letter. Those first steps sometimes led to a lifetime of activism. I think one of the things I’ve found most exciting about my career as an organizer is when you meet up with a volunteer years later and find out that they’re still involved. If you can identify with that excitement, and have a passion for the planet, you might want to consider a career in organizing.

Since finishing Green Corps, I’ve worked on state, national, and international campaigns. Mostly, I’m just applying those very basic lessons of environmental organizing I learned in Green Corps at a grander scale.

Mongabay: Has environmental activism changed in terms of its approach or tactics since you got your start?

Glenn Hurowitz: I believe that the principles of successful activism and organizing are essentially timeless. Depth over breadth. Commitment over flash. Strategy over tactics.

Of course, the tools of organizing have changed to an extent. When I first started organizing, I did have a cell phone and mainly used email, but a lot of reporters and politicians still used fax machines. Text messaging and social media are more important, but a challenge with most digital organizing at this stage is that for many targets, high volumes of communication alone aren’t likely to change them. Politicians and big companies are somewhat inured to traditional email petitions.

There are of course instances of social media contributing to campaign wins. Most companies and politicians are sensitive to their online image, though some are developing a bit more of a thick cyber-skin.

Logging concession in Indonesia. Photo credit: Yudhi Mahendra / Mighty Earth
Logging concession in Indonesia. Photo credit: Yudhi Mahendra / Mighty Earth

I believe that activism, including digital activism, carries great power and great responsibility. A 22-year-old organizer can recruit a handful of volunteers and change a senator’s vote, or a small NGO can do an exposé that sparks the transformation of an industry. But like any form of power, it can be abused. There’s a risk of crossing the line from movement to mob. I think because the barrier to entry is so low, social media can breed irresponsibility in activism that can be turned towards bullying. For instance, we’re working on deadly serious life and death issues: the survival of an endangered species, an Indigenous community whose defenders are threatened with murder, child and slave labor, the fate of the planet. We know the stakes are high.

And yet, we very rarely call for anybody to be fired. We pursue transformation, not just a temporarily satisfying change in personnel. Online, it sometimes feels like calling for someone to be fired is the first step. I find that even with the most serious issues, changing a CEO or politician through organizing can create long-term transformation. In our work, we’re also tackling companies far down the supply chain, and governments that may not have the same sensitivities to elite Western cultural morays. We’re not shy about applying intense pressure, but our aim ultimately is not just the fleeting satisfaction of accountability – it’s change.

Mongabay: You’ve played a leading role in the push to get companies to adopt No deforestation (NDPE) policies. A 2015 Grist article provided very good background on your pivotal meeting with Wilmar’s CEO Kuok Khoon Hong in 2013. Can you re-cap the approach you took in persuading Kuok?

Glenn Hurowitz: The successful negotiations with Wilmar were really just the culmination of a broader strategy and campaign that spanned the world. Choosing Wilmar as the key target wasn’t the automatic decision it might seem now. Many people thought at the time that they were too big, too conservative, and too opaque to change. They’re the world’s largest palm oil trader. Asia’s largest agribusinesses, are owned by one of the wealthiest families in the world, and the dossier of their environmental and human rights issues was thick. Based on research and interactions with the company, we felt that although that description was accurate, ultimately, they were a professional and dynamic company focused on their business. But the most important factor was their size – they were the biggest, and therefore had the potential to unlock the transformation of the whole industry. More than 80% of palm oil producers sold to them. Change Wilmar, you change the whole industry. As the biggest, they also had greater freedom to set the standard within the industry without worrying so much that their competitors would undermine them.

Once we identified them as the target, we had to figure out how to change them – and do so in a way that would create momentum for the transformation of the palm oil industry and commodity agriculture more broadly. The approach we used with Wilmar and Kuok was the same one we’ve used over and over again with dozens of palm oil, rubber, chocolate, steel, and meat companies: what we call our Perfect Storm approach. We work to bring pressure on a target from multiple different angles in a relatively compressed time period to the point that it becomes irresistible: their customers, financiers, media, grassroots, digital, direct engagement with the company. It’s an application of the basic principles of classical military strategy, combined with social change theory and a lot of hard-won experience to the field of environmental campaigning. We apply principles like concentration of force, agility, and momentum to our campaigns, and our effort to change Wilmar and the whole of commodity agriculture industry really followed those principles.

Many organizations contributed to creating this perfect storm with Wilmar. Rainforest Foundation Norway persuaded Nordic investors to divest from Wilmar and other palm oil companies. Previously, most institutional investors had just politely urged Wilmar and other companies to consider perhaps not engaging in quite such egregious destruction. Once divestment started, the palm oil companies started to take other investors more seriously and worry that they couldn’t just wine and dine them in Singapore and tell them how much they loved Mother Earth.

Protest outside Kellogg's HQ in Michigan over ties to Wilmar (left). Glenn Hurowitz, Kuok Khoon Hong, and Scott Poynton (right)
Protest outside Kellogg’s HQ in Michigan over ties to Wilmar (left). Glenn Hurowitz, Kuok Khoon Hong, and Scott Poynton (right)

One of the most important investor actors was Green Century Capital Management, which has a strategic sense of how to use financial influence to change companies and industries. Their shareholder advocate joined an earnings call with the CEO of Kellogg, one of Wilmar’s joint venture partners, and asked the Kellogg CEO why he was jeopardizing his multi-billion-dollar brand by partnering with one of the world’s great forest destroyers. It made the financial press, and Kellogg’s CEO started asking Wilmar’s CEO the same questions.

Grassroots work made a big difference. Our organizers also went to Michigan where Kellogg’s was based to recruit volunteers on campus and in neighborhoods with lots of Kellogg’s employees to ask why Kellogg’s was partnering with a company that destroyed Sumatran tiger habitat when its mascot was Tony the Tiger. Soon, hundreds of students were asking Kellogg’s recruiter the same question. And finally, when haze from deforestation linked to palm oil hit Singapore, we went on television to tell people in Singapore and across the region that the haze wasn’t just a phenomenon for which society as a whole was responsible, but that Wilmar held outsized responsibility.

Faced with this pressure, Wilmar’s CEO Khoon Hong wrote me a letter which was fairly defensive. I saw it as an opportunity. I wrote back and told him he had played such a leading role in Asia’s economic success, but that now he had a unique opportunity to play an equally leading role in protecting Asia’s environment. Pretty soon, we were emailing back and forth, and he invited me to Singapore to meet him.

When we met at Wilmar’s headquarters, he delivered a 15-minute diatribe about how unfair NGOs were. I couldn’t believe I’d flown for 24 hours to Singapore to listen to that. But once he got that off his chest, he was very open-minded when we talked about solutions – and in particular the potential of the palm oil industry to focus future expansion on the tens of millions of acres of previously deforested degraded lands instead of on pristine rainforest and carbon-rich peatland. We also talked about how this wasn’t just about commitments, but about implementation – and that to succeed they would need an expert implementation partner. We urged them to bring in The Forest Trust, TFT (now Earthworm Foundation), which had already worked with another major palm oil company, GAR and Greenpeace to develop the High Carbon Stock methodology to channel development onto previously deforested lands. We felt that unless they had a credible implementation partner, any commitment would be meaningless. They were skeptical, but I kept at it, and finally persuaded them to talk to TFT’s then-Executive Director Scott Poynton. I had to keep banging the drum and flew to Singapore again but felt that when Khoon Hong agreed to have Scott join our conversations, it meant they were serious and that we were likely to succeed.

Even with that, it was still a roller coaster of negotiations. I flew to Singapore five times that year to work through the issues and seal the deal. Khoon Hong was understandably nervous that his competitors wouldn’t join them. We worked with Wilmar, Earthworm and Unilever to convene a meeting with all the major competitors, and the competitors just reinforced that fear by refusing to go along. We ultimately had to persuade Khoon Hong to take a leap of faith.

Deforestation for palm oil production in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.
Deforestation for palm oil production in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.

It was touch and go but helped by the fact that other organizations like Greenpeace and SumOfUS were also beginning to add pressure. The pressure from investors was also resonating. And at a key moment, I was able to send him photos of a huge crowd of our volunteers protesting outside Kellogg’s headquarters in Battle Creek, Michigan in the middle of a very cold weekday in November. Despite the understandable fear Wilmar had about changing the way they did business, the combined pressure also created risk for them of not acting.

At the end of the day, however, adopting such a strong environmental and human rights policy, applying it to Wilmar’s hundreds of suppliers, and investing millions of dollars in implementation was an act of courage. I think Khoon Hong deserves enormous credit for it. He didn’t go for half steps, and he almost immediately made implementation of their sustainability policy a priority within the company. That set the stage for progress across the industry.

Mongabay: Of course since then, like most other big agribusiness companies, Wilmar has struggled to implement its NDPE. How would you characterize the progress Wilmar in terms of where you expected it to be by this point in time? And what is still left for it to do?

Glenn Hurowitz: In many ways, Wilmar continued to be a leader in the industry. Their forest and human rights commitment laid down the gauntlet for the industry to adopt Wilmar’s No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation (NDPE) policy. Within months, they went further and completely disrupted commodity agriculture’s tradition of opacity by posting the identity and location of their suppliers online, creating pressure on their major competitors to do the same. And they’ve been willing, with pushing from us and others, to take leadership on other key implementation issues. At some level, to paraphrase Joe Biden, ‘we shouldn’t compare them to the Almighty, but to the alternative’. It’s difficult for me to imagine the enormous progress in the palm oil industry without Wilmar. Most recently, they were the only major palm oil trader to join the Rimba Collective, in which major companies in the palm oil supply chain finally stepped up to not just avoid deforestation, but to invest in conservation and restoration over the long term. It took many years to convince the industry to go this next step, and typically Wilmar was the first one willing to take a leap of faith.

While that’s the big picture, Wilmar has been far from perfect – and hasn’t always been a leader in every aspect of NDPE implementation. Most of its challenges are ones it has shared with pretty much every other palm oil company, but that’s not necessarily an excuse for a company with its financial resources. While they have helped lead the other companies to make enforcement of their palm oil policies much more rapid, they and others have not fulfilled repeated commitments to create a transparent industry-wide deforestation and human rights monitoring system. As a result, it still falls to our Rapid Response system and other NGO efforts to police Wilmar and its industry peers. With the industry’s vastly greater resources, that’s just not right.

Despite years of advocacy, as far as we can tell, Wilmar has done almost nothing to advance forest and human rights protection in the soy supply chain. That’s a real failure for one of the biggest soy importers to Asia. They’ve made billions of dollars in profit off their soy imports. They know how to transform industries. Merely extending enforcement of the scope of its NDPE policy to soy would have a similar transformative effect as in palm oil.

Massive illegal forest clearance in the Gran Chaco as seen from the air in Argentina. Image by Jim Wickens, Ecostorm via Mighty Earth.

One of the other areas where they lag is in extending the scope of its NDPE policy to all business activities of the groups they buy from. We have filed repeated grievances with Wilmar for sourcing from groups that continue to clear rainforests for other commodities. They refused to act on the deforestation because it wasn’t directly for palm oil, for example – they simply classify such cases as ‘ineligible grievances’ on its website.

One of Wilmar’s largest palm oil suppliers is Astra Agro Lestari, part of the Astra Group which is owned by the British conglomerate Jardines Matheson. We found that a gold mining division of Astra, only bought in late 2018, is actively destroying the rainforest habitat of the Tapanuli orangutan, the most endangered great ape species in the world. This is disappointing on its own merit, and also because several other companies that source palm from Astra such as Hershey’s, PZ Cussons, Unilever, COFCO International, Oleon, for example, are pressuring the group even if they don’t buy gold from its mine. For example, Unilever grievance log states: ‘we have stated our concerns on the allegations to the company and encouraged to halt developments before HCS/HCV assessments have been completed and submitted for independent review’.

Wilmar needs to urgent extend the scope of its NDPE policy across all commodities and to all business activities of the groups they source from. When that happens, we could see greater ambition from its industry peers.

Mongabay: What has been the biggest lesson for you after a decade or so of NDPE engagement with companies?

Glenn Hurowitz: Enforcement, enforcement, enforcement. I don’t think the companies would have done anywhere near as much as they did without monitoring and real sustained campaign and commercial pressure. One of the ways we’ve worked to drive industry-wide implementation of these commitments is through our Rapid Response monitoring system. Our team continually monitors approximately 30 million hectares of land in Southeast Asia for deforestation and we do similar monitoring of the meat industry in South America. We then file alerts with the agribusinesses alerting them to instances of deforestation. The good news is they respond. The program has driven more than 250 supply chain discontinuations in palm oil, and dozens of new forest and human rights policies by palm oil producers.

Oil palm plantation. Photo credit: Logging concession in Indonesia. Photo credit: Yudhi Mahendra / Mighty Earth
Oil palm plantation. Photo credit: Logging concession in Indonesia. Photo credit: Yudhi Mahendra / Mighty Earth

We believe this program is a major driver of the extraordinary success in reducing deforestation for palm oil, and in Southeast Asia more broadly. The other important ingredient is campaigns that we and allies have done, particularly in Asian markets for palm oil. Many of the remaining rogue actors who have resisted pressure from the mainstream traders, consumer companies, and financiers thought they could continue business as usual because they served mainly Asian markets. That’s been a myth. The reality is that the public in many Asian markets is at least as concerned as Westerners about these issues, and we’ve seen great success in changing companies there too.

Overall, the combination of monitoring and campaigns has made a major contribution to success in reducing deforestation for palm oil. In Indonesia, deforestation has declined from about one million acres per year in 2014 to 93,900 in 2020, the fourth straight year it was less than 250,000 acres. If sustained over ten years, this reduction translates to about 1.6 gigatons of reduced pollution – and there are thousands of orangutans, tree kangaroos, and birds of paradise alive today because of it. This decline in deforestation in the palm oil industry, complemented by some governmental actions, have contributed to an overall decline in deforestation for palm oil to its lowest level in more than 30 years. I hope the monitoring and campaigns can continue.

It’s a huge environmental and climate success and one that’s gotten too little attention. That’s a shame because there are major lessons for changing other industries too. We’ve seen huge progress in palm oil, pulp and paper and rubber, and the beginnings of action in cocoa. But the meat industry is a bigger driver of deforestation than all of the other commodities combined. We’ve tried to bring the successful model to the meat industry, but there’s been relatively little funding for advocacy to drive that transformation. We are seeing growing interest in this area from our NGO allies, especially after the raging Amazon fires of the past few years, but there just needs to be an order of magnitude more funding for this work.

Mongabay: Over the past decade, there seems to be much greater awareness in the conservation sector about the contributions Indigenous peoples and local communities have made toward achieving conservation outcomes. What has driven this shift?

Glenn Hurowitz: There are a lot of studies that show clearly in many places that Indigenous communities are the best defenders of the forests. It makes sense: there’s just no substitute for having a community that cares so much about the place they live that they’re willing to fight and in all too many cases die for it. I think most people will understand that. In our work, where local communities are ready to fight for their land, we usually see industrial deforestation projects run into huge obstacles from the resistance from local communities. We try to make sure the voices of those communities are heard – and that impacts on them are documented.

Heavy equipment owned by Korindo’s subsidiary, PT Papua Agro Lestari, collect wood to be burned (stacking), at its concession in Jair sub-district, Boven Digoel district, Papua, Indonesia. Image courtesy of Mighty Earth.

Of course, on the ground, defining who is Indigenous and local can be complicated. There are Indigenous groups who live a fairly traditional lifestyle, depend on the forest and its bounty for their livelihood and culture. Most people would agree that they’re an Indigenous community. But there are often groups of illegal miners, ranchers, loggers, and wildlife traffickers, sometimes with the backing of major financial interests or governments, who claim the mantle of Indigenous or local communities. Sometimes we also find that there are Indigenous and local communities on different sides of an issue. And there are differences between Indigenous and local communities’ legal rights, modes of organization, and culture across regions, religions, and countries. So, it requires a lot of local knowledge and partnership to get this right. But the good news is that there is much more attention being paid to it by civil society at least. There needs to be way more attention to it from companies and governments.

Mongabay: We’ve heard a lot more about stakeholder inclusivity in recent years, especially in the context of the past year between the social justice movement in the U.S. and criticisms of colonial practices among some big NGOs. How is this manifesting in the work you do?

Glenn Hurowitz: First off, the opinion that really matters here in how common this phenomenon is those of truly impacted communities, so I’d defer to them.

But from my personal perspective, it’s worth saying: the colonial and exploitative behavior we see every day in our work comes primarily from big agribusinesses. It just doesn’t compare to any mistakes big NGOs may make. Cargill, JBS, and other meat companies are still driving deforestation on a vast scale. Their suppliers have burned and bulldozed millions of acres of ancient rainforest and savannah to make way for giant plantations and ranches, dispossessed Indigenous communities, and then export that meat and feed to be sold in supermarkets like Tesco, Carrefour and Stop & Shop. Agribusiness interests in Brazil are advancing legislation to make land-grabbing even easier. I’ve heard executives inside the Jardine Matheson conglomerate express utter contempt for the aspirations of Indigenous communities who had been displaced by their palm oil operations to get just a small fraction of their land back. The chocolate industry continues to blithely buy cocoa from suppliers in Côte d’Ivoire whose farmers make an average of less than a dollar a day, child labor is widespread, and there has been repeated use slavery. Cargill and Nestle just argued in the Supreme Court that even if they had profited off of slavery in their supply chain, they shouldn’t be held responsible under US law. That is true colonialism and exploitation.

Having said that, big NGOs and little NGOs must make sure they’re inclusive too, and I include us in that group. It’s probably worth saying: We’re not a big NGO, but we navigate these issues too. The biggest challenge we face here is that it’s a lot easier to be inclusive and show inclusivity when operating in a relatively free society. Even where democracy and civil liberties are not fully developed, if there’s a measure of freedom, our campaigns can open doors for local civil society and Indigenous communities through international campaigns on big corporate interests.

Deforestation in Côte d’Ivoire. Image credit: Mighty Earth
Deforestation in Côte d’Ivoire. Image credit: Mighty Earth

One of my proudest moments at Mighty Earth was when I visited Gabon in 2017 after our campaign to persuade Olam to stop deforestation for palm oil and rubber in the country and more broadly throughout its global supply chains. We’d worked to persuade the Singapore sovereign wealth fund, its owners, other Asian financial institutions, and customers of Olam in Europe and elsewhere to persuade the company to stop destroying forests. We also filed a complaint against Olam with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The strategy worked. Olam agreed to stop deforestation. But there was a lot more to address a range of issues affecting local communities, and ensure a more broadly supportive context for conservation in the industry. The company was very reluctant to meet with our civil society allies and local community representatives. They tried to confine our meetings with government ministers and members of the parliament to me. But of course, I insisted that I would head home without meeting the ministers if our local allies couldn’t join. Pretty quickly, the invitation was extended to include them. And I think the government at least was glad that it was. Our local partners were unsurprisingly able to bring a level of knowledge far deeper than what I had about sustainable development in Gabon with everyone from the Agriculture to Defense ministers far deeper than what I was. We were able to help bring international commercial leverage to open doors for them. But once the doors were open, they knew way more about local issues in Gabon than we did. We were able to step back and let them lead.

When I joined our local partners on a visit to Olam’s plantations, one of them said to me “You know, we’ve been trying to raise these issues with Olam and the government for years, but they wouldn’t listen. You’re based in Washington, DC, you’re working in Singapore and Europe, and somehow now they’ll listen.” That was really encouraging to hear; I felt like we were doing our job.

In many countries, however, working with local civil society became more challenging during the Trump era. There has been a tidal wave of nationalistic authoritarianism sweeping many of the countries we work in. The United States, while imperfect and with a troubling record in many countries, had also acted as a constraint on the more authoritarian impulses of many governments. The Trump administration’s retreat from issues of human rights and democracy gave many governments what they perceived to be a blank check to do to do what’s convenient for them towards civil society groups in their own countries, as well as their international allies.

A tractor works to turn deforested land into soy fields in São Desidério, Bahia state, Brazil in 2017. Credit: Jim Wickens Ecostorm/Mighty Earth.

For us, this has meant navigating a much more complex landscape. Civil society organizations and Indigenous communities that once felt free to speak up now face real pressure from companies and governments alike. In this context, it falls paradoxically much more to international organizations like us to try and use our influence with the private sector, international governments, and the public to continue to represent the voices of local communities even when they are constrained in their ability to speak up themselves. This can lead to accusations of international interference from the likes of Bolsonaro. But it is sadly necessary when government intimidates its own citizens.

Although the United States has a dramatically better government now, and the Biden administration has exceeded our expectations on so many fronts, it will likely take some time to restore America’s credibility as a reliable advocate for basic civil liberties.

Mongabay: Shifting gears a bit, I’d like to ask about Mighty Earth, which you started. What have been the biggest lessons for you in the journey of starting and growing a non-profit?

Glenn Hurowitz: In general, the more you can do to decide what kind of culture you want or need and make sure you’re both hiring for those qualities and cultivating them are critical.

It’s important to be really clear about what you really value. For us, we’re obsessed with impact, and aren’t shy about that. We want to make the most impact per dollar of any organization in the world. To achieve impact, we believe we need to be principled, agile, and entrepreneurial. We need people who are just thrilled to work at a place with those qualities. We want people who thrive in a culture of freedom and responsibility. It’s not for everyone, but we believe it drives outsized change.

This approach goes beyond “Values.” You can go to almost any company or non-profit organization and see values up on the wall like integrity and respect. That’s great. I share those values, and I think most people in our organization do too and try to live them. But they’re not what distinguishes us. What we hope distinguishes us above all else is impact.

Glenn Hurowitz, Kate Brooks, and crew in Batang Toru, Sumatra.
Glenn Hurowitz, Kate Brooks, and crew in Batang Toru, Sumatra.

There are three books I recommend for any organizational leaders, whether you’re the CEO or a manager: Good to Great by Jim Collins; No Rules Rules by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer; and The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni. We aspire to live up to the models in those books.

Our greatest challenge is funding. There’s an incredibly insightful line from Tom Tierney of the Bridgespan Group that’s quoted in Good to Great for the Social Sector, a monograph that accompanies the original: “the social sectors do not have rational capital markets that deliver resources to those who deliver the best results.” Success in our work doesn’t necessarily translate into more funding.

For us, we’ve definitely encountered this challenge. I think we’ve had a great track record of translating relatively limited resources into gigaton-scale results. But we’ve relied mainly on big institutional donors, and that can come with some baggage. Since we started pretty small, it’s an efficient way of raising money – especially for us, where we work on issues that are of outsized importance, but may not have yet hit the same chord with general funders or the public yet.

For instance, we work on Nature conservation which represents one third of the near-term solution to climate change, but gets less than two percent of the funding of that goes towards energy. We work on heavy industry decarbonization, which represents a quarter of global climate pollution, but which has received almost no attention. The institutional funders are the ones that tend to be aware of those issues and interested in sophisticated solutions.

A scorched animal skull revealed in the aftermath of a fire. Fire is often used as a tool for converting forests and other native vegetation to croplands in Brazil, destroying biodiversity. Photo by Jim Wickens, Ecostorm / Mighty Earth.

However, while some of our donors embrace advocacy, some of the larger funders have a temperamental discomfort with it. They love the transformative results, but don’t like the messiness: they value academic dispassion, and activists are passionate. Companies and governments can get mad when they’re attacked. They’d be way happier if just developing a new technology or a really smart policy was enough. Those things can definitely help, but they’re not enough. It’s a rare technology that can reach economies of scale without companies and governments facing pressure to deploy it. Sometimes, even when the economics work, inertia prevent its deployment. I would even argue that advocacy can be a way more efficient way to get governments and the private sector to themselves develop new technologies or policy solutions, rather than have philanthropies with more limited resources try to do it themselves.

Ultimately, I agree with the idea that philanthropy do more to fund successful organizations, and not just projects. Philanthropy gives that concept a lot of lip service, but there are relatively few funders that actually follow it. I think we’re starting to see some donors who are actually starting to shift in that direction, but there needs to be more.

Mongabay: What are some areas that you’re eyeing in for future work?

Glenn Hurowitz: Our top priority is the transformation of the global protein sector. The meat industry causes more deforestation, more climate pollution, more water pollution, and more displacement of Indigenous communities than all other agricultural industries combined. On climate alone, meat produces more pollution than the entire transportation sector. The meat industry is also responsible for slaughtering wolves, mountain lions, grizzly bears and other animals that they believe threaten their flocks. We’ve got to move away from such an unsustainable model of getting our food.

How are we doing it: We’re of course working to transform the private sector protein industry. That means getting supermarkets like Carrefour and Tesco to stop selling meat from forest destroyers and climate polluters like Cargill and JBS. But it also means persuading those supermarkets to get away from the problems with meat altogether by offering more plant-based and cultivated protein options. These are increasingly affordable and tasty, and it’s possible to envision a world where people can get protein without the destruction and suffering created by JBS and Cargill.

Gran Chaco forest in Argentina being cleared for a soy plantation. Image by Jim Wickens, Ecostorm via Mighty Earth.

There is also a major role for government. In the United States, the Biden administration is doing outstanding work on so many fronts to drive a shift to clean energy. The USDA is working to protect Alaska’s Tongass Rainforest and other critical public lands. But when it comes to the meat industry, they’re still celebrating the opening of beef processing plants that not only cook the climate but were one of the early super spreaders of Covid. I wish they would put equal energy into funding a Manhattan Project-scale project to shift to plant-based and cultivated protein. There’s probably no greater step the Biden administration and Congress could take to act on climate.

Mongabay: What advice would you give someone who wants to get involved?

Glenn Hurowitz: A large percentage of people care passionately about the issues we work on. Maybe they’re concerned about climate change, or they want to help species like bears, sloths and orangutans, or they’ve seen the impact plantation agriculture can have on Indigenous communities. Perhaps they’ve had a chance to travel to some amazing place either in their home country or overseas. But it’s hard to know what to do about it. And most nature and environmental films either focus on the beauty (and cuteness) of Nature or just delve into a depressing analysis of the problem. There are few that offer solutions or follow those who are working to do something about it.

Our job as organizers and campaigners is to give people something real and meaningful to do that will make a difference on the issues they care about. It can be at the most basic level giving a donation or sending a tweet. But if people want something more meaningful, they can take it to the next level and come to an in-person activist event. Of course, the next level from that is dedicating your life and career to this work. It’s the most rewarding pursuit possible.

Conservation is the only way that humans can truly brush up against the eternal. A successful company might create a fortune that lasts a few generations; a great painting might be famous for a few centuries; a statue might delight for thousands of years. But they will all perish. But saving a species or 10 species will allow life to survive and flourish for millions and billions of years. There is no other field that offers the opportunity for that kind of positive legacy.

Logging concession in Indonesia. Photo credit: Yudhi Mahendra / Mighty Earth
Logging concession in Indonesia. Photo credit: Yudhi Mahendra / Mighty Earth

Find something you can do to make a difference and do it. Of course, I would certainly encourage people to sign up with Mighty Earth, but there are lots of organizations from National Wildlife Federation to Sierra Club to Greenpeace to Sunrise and SumOfUs that are doing outstanding work – as well as loads of local organizations.

If you are interested in making a career of this work, there are great opportunities to get started: here in America, the Green Corps fellowship and Environment America are amazing ways to learn skills for a lifetime and enter a wonderful community. Sunrise has really created many opportunities for young people to get involved. Try and keep trying. If you are determined, you’ll find a way at the local, state, national or even global level. And there’s nothing more rewarding.

Mongabay: What would you say to young people who are distressed about the current trajectory of the planet?

Glenn Hurowitz: First, I know how you feel. It would be insane not to feel distressed. More than a decade ago, I took time off of active organizing and campaigning to write a book about politics. The thing about writing is that you hope it will have an impact, but it’s a long time between conception and publication. It was a worthwhile project, but I remember that being away from regular involvement in advocacy made me just focus on how daunting the problems were.

But here’s the amazing thing. Getting involved in environmental campaigns can have an impact far beyond what you think possible. There’s no better medicine for distress than doing something about it. We’re not a huge organization. But in large measure because of the activist energy and power that fuels us, we’ve helped change dozens of companies and driven decarbonization of whole industries. I think there are many endangered species that are alive today because of our work. We can point to specific forests that probably would have been bulldozed if we hadn’t intervened. Companies and governments are sensitive to their image -and especially when people of courage find strategically powerful levers to influence them, it really works. We had activists show up at Mandarin Oriental hotels in elephant costumes to change the second largest palm oil company in Indonesia – and it worked.

I think one important caveat is that individuals shouldn’t try to take on the whole burden of trying to “save the planet.” It’s too overwhelming and it doesn’t make sense. No one person or organization is going to do that alone. But you can make an outsized difference on a particular forest, the survival of a particular species, or even a big company, industry, or government policy with persistence and passion. And doing that will then contribute to the planet as a whole.

Contributing to this kind of impact, or just being in the fight, eliminates the existential dread that, while entirely justifiable, can also be utterly paralyzing. Being a happy warrior is good for the soul.