People, Environment

Int'l Firms Launch Effort to Monitor Deforestation

Int'l Firms Launch Effort  to Monitor DeforestationInt'l Firms Launch Effort  to Monitor Deforestation

Companies with a combined value of $2.9 trillion have formed a data alliance to help them push deforestation out of their supply chains.

A deal brokered by the World Resources Institute at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday saw 20 of the world’s biggest corporations such as retail giants Carrefour and Walmart and snacks firms Mondelez International and Mars agree to deploy a monitoring framework to increase the transparency and traceability of the raw materials they use, such as palm oil, soy and cocoa, reported.

The tool is an additional feature of WRI’s Global Forest Watch Commodities platform that enables companies to monitor the health of their supply chains by mapping tree cover loss, deforestation and forest fires on the concessions of their suppliers.

Using the technology, firms can now plot the locations of the production mills and farms they source from, and get alerts of deforestation or fires that occur in those areas.

By keeping a closer eye on supply chains, companies will find it easier to avoid the legal and reputational risks that can come from sourcing commodities from protected forest areas.

The companies and organizations that have signed the deal also include Bunge, Cargill, Conservation International, Daemeter, IOI Group, the Inter-American Investment Corporation, FMO–Dutch Development Bank, National Wildlife Federation, Rainforest Alliance, Proforest and The Nature Conservancy. 

The idea is for companies to integrate forest monitoring into their core business strategy in the same way that they track commodity prices or stock markets.

Big corporations are under increasing pressure from consumers and investors alike to show that the materials they use are not linked to illegal forest clearing, which has been connected to species loss, soil erosion and climate change. Agriculture accounts for more than 70% of tropical deforestation.

Mars, Unilever, Cargill and Mondelez are already using Global Forest Watch Commodities to assess deforestation risks in their palm oil, soy and cocoa supply chains across an area of land the size of Mexico.

The president and chief executive officer of World Resources Institute, Andrew Steer, said there was the necessary political will to combat deforestation, and now was the time to follow through on those commitments.

“Now is the time to use the power of information technology to meet those goals, while also generating sustainable business opportunities. That could really change the world,” he said.

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