If a tree falls in the supply chain

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Courtesy of Courtesy of Ensia

Forests provide habitat for over half of the world’s terrestrial plant and animal species, mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon, and contribute the livelihoods of more than 1 billion people around the world. But they’re rapidly disappearing: 13 million acres of forests have been leveled each year over the past decade, largely due to the global demand for beef, palm oil, paper and soy production. From food to fuel, these four commodities appear in almost every company’s supply chain.

To help companies recognize and reduce their risk related to global deforestation, the international nonprofit CDP recently released a report detailing the business case for assessing and managing risks related with forest commodities. Entitled Deforestation-Free Supply Chains: From Commitments to Action, the report offers insights from 152 leading businesses, including Cargill, Unilever and Sodexo.

Nearly three quarters of the companies participating reported they recognize the need to address deforestation, and 89 percent said they have seen business benefits from sustainably sourcing forest-based commodities. Nineteen major companies, including Cargill, L’Oreal and Kellogg, have already adopted zero deforestation policies. Still, the report cites a need for a greater commitment to moving from understanding deforestation-related risks to changing business practice accordingly. It recommends setting roadmaps and targets addressing deforestation, and calls out mechanisms such as certification, supply chain management and product tracing as useful tools for reducing deforestation-associated business risk.

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