With the endless commentary on how global population will topple the 9 billion mark by 2050, how food production must grow by an astounding 70% to meet the growing need and how only one in six people have access to clean water, these companies were committing to making a crucial investment in how our planet mitigates and adapts to climate change. The NGO community was abuzz with what we believed to be a monumental milestone — everything seemed to be on the right track.
It’s been over two years since that commitment was announced, and my confidence in its significance has not waned. However, with the exception of a quick injection of activity around Rio+20 last June — when the U.S. government pledged to help the CGF with its commitment — many companies are still scratching their heads and wondering where to begin. Meanwhile, deforestation continues to wipe out an area the size of Costa Rica year after year.
It’s true that supply chains are complex, and there are challenging issues to grapple with, including political instability, market failures and price volatility. Those challenges certainly will not go away — and they will likely worsen if climate change continues to devastate our food production. Instead, companies need to showcase their leadership at this crucial time, with less than seven years remaining to reach the 2020 commitment.
One CGF member company that is making efforts in moving the ball forward is Nestlé, which produces goods ranging from coffee and ice cream to pasta and fruit juice. In 2012, Nestlé and CI began working together to better understand the challenges that deforestation presents to business.
In order to guide Nestlé’s sourcing strategy, we began to analyze top commodity-producing countries most affected by deforestation, from the expansion of livestock farming in Brazil to palm oil development in Liberia. From there, CI performed an extensive review of existing research and data on historic deforestation rates and agricultural trends to begin to connect the dots between agricultural sourcing and deforestation.
The result is a series of what we are calling “Deforestation Guides for Commodity Sourcing
,” or “Guides,” that provide Nestlé with significant spatial data to help prioritize its sustainable sourcing commitments. Additionally, CI performed some initial research linking regional deforestation to agricultural sourcing in each of the 32 countries Nestlé has prioritized based on its own research and data collection.