This page provides additional resources that may help investors better understand and apply the information and recommendations provided in the Investor Guide to Deforestation and Climate Change. The resources on this page may help inform investors’ deforestation-related portfolio assessments and company engagements. This page is updated regularly to reflect the most recent and up-to-date information available. For explanations of specific terms that may appear in the Guide or in corporate commitments regarding deforestation, please see the Glossary page.
DISCLAIMER: No representation or warranty (express or implied) is given as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained on this page. The information expressed here does not necessarily reflect the views of any of our donors, member organizations, or advisors. Inclusion on this page does not represent a Ceres endorsement of any of the organizations or their products or services.
Data Tables for Figures Presented in the Guide
Definition of terms used in the Investor Guide to Deforestation and Climate Change
Conversion: Change of a natural ecosystem to another land use, such as agriculture. Conversion includes not only deforestation, but also conversion of other natural ecosystems such as shrublands, grasslands and non-forested peatlands that are highly carbon-rich and biodiverse.
Deforestation: Loss of natural forest. This loss may be due to conversion to a non-forest use such as agriculture or tree plantations, or severe degradation, such as excessive logging. Deforestation may be either legal or illegal.
Deforestation-related GHG emissions: Releases of carbon stored in trees and soils as carbon dioxide (CO₂) due to deforestation. Unless otherwise specified, the statistics in this report refer to net emissions, i.e. they also consider the carbon stored in the ensuing type of land use after deforestation has taken place. They also include emissions from the drainage of forested peatlands for conversion to agriculture. Most tropical peatlands are forested.
Natural forest: A forest that possesses many or most of the characteristics of a forest native to the given site, including species composition, structure and ecological function.
Commodity-driven deforestation: Deforestation that is followed by use of the land for agriculture or forest plantations. This includes some forest loss due to shifting agriculture by smallholders, which is excluded from some definitions of commodity-driven agriculture. We included forest loss due to shifting agriculture in the statistics presented in the Guide in order to provide a complete picture of agriculturally-driven deforestation, but note that geographies and commodities specific to shifts associated with subsistence agriculture are unlikely to have investor exposure.
Forest-risk commodity: A globally-traded good or raw material whose extraction or production contributes significantly to deforestation and degradation.
Land use change: Human conversion of a parcel of land from one type of land use to another type of land use.
Natural climate solutions: Conservation, restoration, and improved land management actions that increase carbon storage and/or avoid greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Actions can be taken across global forests, agricultural lands, grasslands and wetlands. Further information on investing in natural climate solutions available upon request from firstname.lastname@example.org.
No-deforestation: Commodity production, sourcing or financial investments that do not cause or contribute to deforestation. No-deforestation refers to no gross deforestation of natural forests. See Part 5 of the Guide and this page for further guidance on interpreting corporate no-deforestation commitments.
Tree plantation: A human-planted forest that lacks key elements of a natural forest native to the area, such as species diversity (plantations are often composed of a single species), and may store less carbon.
The Accountability Framework provides more information on these and other terms commonly used in discussing deforestation.
The science behind land use as a major driver of climate change
The most commonly-cited estimates for global GHG emissions and climate projections come from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land provides the latest scientific understanding about GHG fluxes in land-based ecosystems, land use and sustainable land management in relation to climate change adaptation and mitigation, desertification, land degradation and food security.
Deforestation poses substantial material financial risk to companies both as a driver of global climate change, and as a direct source of supply chain risk. Investors interested in conducting climate scenario analyses, or engaging with portfolio companies to do so, can find more information below. Additionally, this section provides some examples of the material financial risks of deforestation beyond its exacerbation of climate risk.
Climate Scenario Analysis
To better understand the material impacts of climate change, the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommends that companies and investors conduct climate scenario analysis. Below is a summary of some of the scenarios which the TCFD suggests that investors and companies consider in their analyses. For more information, please refer to the TCFD’s Technical Supplement, The Use of Scenario Analysis in Disclosure of Climate-Related Risks and Opportunities.
Producing climate scenarios requires estimates of future economic, social, technological and environmental activities. In addition, companies must select which scenarios to assess. There are two main categories of climate scenarios: transition scenarios and physical climate scenarios. Organizations should conduct a physical climate risk scenario and a transition scenario consistent with a below 2-degree Celsius pathway and other relevant scenarios, such as those related to Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
Transition scenarios consider a future in which global temperature rise is limited to 2 degrees Celsius. These scenarios make plausible assumptions about the development of climate policies and “climate-friendly” technologies to limit GHG emissions. The International Energy Agency (IEA) publishes the most widely-cited scenarios of this kind.
Physical climate scenarios consider temperature and other physical climate impacts that are predicted to occur under different trajectories of warming. The TCFD suggests selecting scenarios based on Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) established by the IPCC. Each of the 4 RCPs (below) projects a certain quantity of GHG emissions by 2100 and, as a result, leads to a different degree of human-driven climate change. Results from these models are typically “downscaled” to allow for derivation of potential local-level changes in climate, which in turn generates localized potential scenarios such as flooding, drought, loss of crop production, and famine. RCP projections include land use data.
- 2°C: IPCC RCP 2.6 (in line with the Paris Agreement’s stated below 2°C target).
- 2.6°C: IPCC RCP 4.5
- 4°C: IPCC RCP 6.0
- 6°C: IPCC RCP 8.5 (widely considered the business-as-usual scenario without policy changes).
Material impacts of deforestation
Beyond its role in driving climate change, deforestation presents many other material financial risks to companies due to regulations, laws, and standards specific to supply chain deforestation. These material risks include:
Regulatory risks: Fines, suspensions and other legal consequences; inability to cope with regulatory changes
In July 2019, the European Commission adopted an E.U. communication on stepping up E.U. action to protect and restore the world’s forests. One of the action plan’s priorities is to reduce the E.U. consumption footprint on land and encourage the consumption of products from deforestation-free supply chains in the E.U. Among other initiatives, this plan launches an assessment of possible new regulatory measures, including stronger certification schemes for deforestation-free products and possible demand-side legislative measures. These forthcoming policies might significantly affect the importation of products associated with deforestation into the European Union.
Reputational risks: Impacts on intangible assets, such as brand equity and standing with shareholders and customers
Many leading brands have been the focus of campaigns by NGOs such as Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, SumOfUs, and Union of Concerned Scientists. In 2012, Greenpeace’s mock advertisement linking Nestlé’s palm oil sourcing to orangutan deaths was viewed by over 300,000 people during its first day on the Internet. Cadbury New Zealand went from number one in brand trust to number 36 after public criticism over irresponsible palm sourcing in 2009. Kellogg Co. was accused of rainforest destruction in over 30 prominent media outlets.
Market risks: Jeopardized access to buyer's markets and financial markets
In May 2019, Nestlé SA stopped purchasing Brazilian-produced soybeans from Cargill, one of the world’s top soybean traders. Nestlé, the world’s largest food and beverage manufacturer, committed to eliminating deforestation from their supply chains in 2010, and in March 2020, released an update stating that they expect 90% of all of the commodities they source to be verified deforestation-free by the end of 2020. Nestlé decided to stop purchasing Brazilian soybeans from Cargill because the company was unable to trace the commodity back to specific plantations. This raised concerns that the soybeans were produced on converted land.
Operational risks: Supply disruption and cost volatility
Deforestation exacerbates the effects of climate change, making areas used for commodity production even more susceptible to damages from increasing extreme weather events. Left unmitigated, this can have substantial material financial consequences for companies. For example, a 2018 drought in Argentina led to increased soy and corn prices in the U.S. In a 2018 10-Q, Tyson cited a $89 million increase in feed costs as a factor in the decline of its 2018 operating income compared to the previous fiscal year.
Litigation risks: Legal fees, monetary compensations and settlements
The Government of Indonesia has begun prosecuting publicly-traded companies associated with air pollution produced by palm oil fires. On August 15, 2016, the Government of Indonesia fined Sampoerna Agro $81 million for 2014 forest fires on 3,000 hectares on its concessions in Riau Province, Indonesia. The $81 million fine was nearly equal to Sampoerna Agro’s revenue in the first six months of 2016.
Opportunities to invest in forests and other natural climate solutions
Natural climate solutions (NCS) are defined as: Conservation, restoration, and improved land management actions that increase carbon storage and/or avoid greenhouse gas emissions. Actions can be taken across global forests, agricultural lands, grasslands and wetlands. Examples include reforestation, avoided deforestation, and incorporating trees in croplands. NCS can either reduce sources of greenhouse gas emissions or increase carbon sequestration; some do both. A group led by New Forests and Generation Investment have launched a 2030 Natural Climate Solutions Investment Vision which explores a transition pathway to investment in sustainable land use. The Investment Vision is available on request.
Other resources to understand the material risks of deforestation
Ceres case studies and commodity briefs
For more information about how deforestation led to material financial consequences for three companies, please see the Case Study Series on Business Risks. For more information on commodity-specific supply chain risks, please see Ceres’ commodity briefs for beef, palm oil, soy, cocoa and other commodities.
Chain Reaction Research
Chain Reaction Research is a partnership between AidEnvironment, Profundo and Climate Advisers. They provide analysis to better understand risks pertaining to deforestation-related commodities including palm oil, soy, cattle and other products.
The specific commodities and geographies with particularly high rates of deforestation are constantly in flux, due to changing demand and production practices. It is crucial for companies and their investors to stay attuned to these shifting dynamics and to areas that may be arising as deforestation hotspots. Below are resources that provide up-to-date information on where deforestation is currently occurring.
Other resources to track countries and commodities of risk
Global Forest Watch
Global Forest Watch is an online platform hosted by the World Resources Institute (WRI) that provides satellite-based insights for analyzing forest trends, receiving supply chain deforestation alerts, creating custom maps, and downloading real-time data on forest loss. Global Forest Watch Pro, which launched in 2019, tailors this information to key stakeholders including banks, producers, commodity traders and consumer goods manufacturers, allowing them to save information about the locations of their key investments, operations, and suppliers in the platform to better understand the risks in their supply chain. Learn more.
Trase is a platform created by researchers at the Stockholm Environment Institute that compiles publicly available data and makes connections to reveal the trade flows of globally-important commodities including beef, soy and palm oil. Using this data, Trase links on-the-ground impacts in producing countries, like deforestation and water pollution, to the products that end up on the supermarket shelves of consuming countries, and the specific traders and manufacturers involved. Learn more.
Investors cannot accurately assess portfolios for deforestation risk without access to sufficient information about portfolio companies. Although some information regarding a company’s geographic footprint and the raw materials they source may be readily available, an investor may only be able to uncover certain other crucial pieces through further engagement with the company.
ESG Research Providers
Research providers such as MSCI, Sustainalytics, and Bloomberg have responded to increasing demand for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) data by providing investors with metrics and scores regarding company performance on key factors related to each of these issues. However, many of these providers do not include metrics related to deforestation, despite deforestation being a large driver of climate risk. Investors should talk with their providers about the level of detail they can receive on ESG factors specific to their holdings or issues of concern, such as the presence of deforestation in company’s supply chains.
Information to conduct portfolio- and security-level assessments
Table 1 summarizes the availability of information investors may need to conduct the portfolio- and security-level assessments described in Part 4 of the Investor Guide to Climate Change and Deforestation. Sources of this information are summarized below.
Easy to find/Publicly Available
Harder to find/Not always disclosed
Not usually disclosed
→ Location of company headquarters and key operations
→ Markets in which a company is active
→ The primary raw commodities sourced by a company
→ Locations of direct suppliers
→ Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions inventory
→ Scope 3 GHG emissions
→ Locations of indirect suppliers
→ Sub-national sourcing data for key commodities
→ Emissions from deforestation and land use conversion
Locations of company headquarters are typically included in a company’s Form 10-K. Key operations are also sometimes included, usually at the continent, regional or national level. Sustainability reports and other annual reports may also include locations of key operations.
Direct and indirect supplier locations are harder to come by. Although still uncommon, some companies are beginning to report the locations of direct, and sometimes indirect suppliers in their corporate sustainability reports and websites.
Nestlé discloses a list of its Tier 1 suppliers and the supplying mills on its website.
Subnational sourcing data is rarely disclosed. The CDP Forests questionnaire includes a question on the state/region(s) and municipality(ies) of origin for disclosed commodities. However, due to a lack of sufficient traceability, many companies are unable to respond.
Markets in which a company is active and sells products are often mentioned in the Form 10-K.
Company sourcing patterns and GHG emissions data
Even companies that disclose locations of their indirect suppliers may not have the appropriate level of traceability in their supply chains to verify that no land has been converted on the ground.
Currently, most companies do not disclose complete Scope 3 emissions inventories, due in large part to a lack of guidance. The GHG Protocol’s forthcoming guidance on emissions from land use and land use change will likely result in more consistent disclosure of these emissions.
Some companies include land-based emissions in their GHG inventory, which they may disclose through the CDP Climate report, or through their own sustainability reporting.
Other resources to assess portfolio-wide deforestation risk and prioritize engagements
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol
Corporate disclosure of GHG emissions is becoming increasingly popular, but these disclosures must be based on valid methods for companies and investors to accurately assess their climate risk. The Greenhouse Gas Protocol provides the world’s most widely used standards, guidance, tools and training for business and government to measure and manage their GHG emissions. Many initiatives like the Science Based Targets Initiative require companies to measure their emissions using definitions and methodology provided by the GHG Protocol. Existing standards for corporate GHG emissions disclosures have not provided detailed guidance for companies to report emissions from deforestation and conversion, in part due to the lack of guidance on how to accurately measure these emissions. Standardized methods to appropriately account for land-based emissions will be included in forthcoming guidance from the GHG Protocol. This will likely move industries to more consistent accounting and disclosure of deforestation-related GHG emissions. Learn more.
Navigating corporate disclosures on climate and deforestation can be a confusing exercise, as companies may use different metrics and methods to track their progress and provide disclosures. In addition to the guidance provided in Part 5 of this Investor Guide, the sources below will help investors prepare for engagements with companies on eliminating supply chain deforestation. This section also includes additional questions investors may ask companies about actions they are taking to reduce their exposure to deforestation- and climate-related risks.
Typical sources of corporate disclosures
Many companies that have no-deforestation policies and climate commitments will disclose their progress directly on company websites and in sustainability reports. Those that don’t may still disclose to outlets such as CDP. In 2019, over 8,400 companies disclosed climate, water and forest-related risks and opportunities to CDP.
Multi-stakeholder initiatives, certifications, partnerships, and other initiatives commonly mentioned in company commitments
Companies often reference their participation in multi-stakeholder initiatives or partnerships in their deforestation- and climate-related commitments. Although participation illustrates a certain degree of commitment, many of these initiatives are voluntary and may not be binding. Additionally, companies may rely on third-party certifications to verify the compliance of upstream supply chain actors with their no-deforestation policies. However, the scope and rigor of certifications varies. Although not entirely comprehensive, Table 2 provides an overview of the main players investors may come across in corporate commitments and policies, and whether or not they represent a certification or otherwise binding commitment. Investors can find more details about each of the initiatives below.
Name (Descriptions below)
Forest-risk commodities covered
Cross-commodity multi-stakeholder initiative
New York Declaration on Forests
Beef, palm oil, paper, soybeans and others
Consumer Goods Forum
Beef, palm oil, pulp & paper packaging, soybeans
Cross-commodity third-party certifications
Cocoa, & coffee, along with a wide range of other products
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
Timber, paper, lumber, rubber
No Peat, No Deforestation, No Exploitation (NDPE)
U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
High Carbon Stock and High Carbon Value Approaches
Primarily palm oil
No, but required for RSPO
Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)
Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR)
Roundtable for Responsible Soy (RTRS)
Cross-commodity multi-stakeholder initiatives
The New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF)
- The NYDF is a broad coalition of governments, companies, civil society, and Indigenous people’s organizations who have committed to the declaration’s ten goals that seek to end tropical deforestation and restore 350 million hectares of degraded landscapes and forestlands by 2030.
- This is a voluntary and non-binding commitment.
- Goal 2 of the NYDF seeks to “support and help meet the private-sector goal of eliminating deforestation from the production of agricultural commodities such as palm oil, soy, paper, and beef products by no later than 2020, recognizing that many companies have even more ambitious targets.”
- In the 2019 progress update, the NYDF acknowledges that “current efforts by companies and governments are not sufficient to eliminate deforestation from the production of agricultural commodities by 2020.”
Consumer Goods Forum (CGF)
- CGF is a CEO-led organization that promotes collaboration among the world’s retailers, consumer goods manufacturers and other key stakeholders to drive positive change. Their Forest Positive Coalition of Action seeks to drive systemic change, through supply chain management and an integrated land use approach, to eliminate commodity-driven deforestation.
- The main goals of the Coalition are to: accelerate efforts to remove commodity-driven deforestation; set higher expectations for commodity traders; drive transformational change in key commodity landscapes; and transparently report on progress.
- Participation in this Coalition is voluntary and non-binding. The Coalition is working to develop and implement, starting in 2020, commodity-specific roadmaps that include commitments all members agree to achieve, actions members will implement, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which members agree to report on.
- The CGF commitment is a zero net deforestation commitment, not a zero-gross or no-deforestation commitment.
Cross-commodity third-party certifications
- Fairtrade is a widely utilized certification program that covers a wide range of commodities including the forest-risk commodities cocoa and coffee.
- The program’s main goals are to address poverty and provide a fair and guaranteed price to cocoa producers; they do not directly track or monitor deforestation activities.
- The two large certification providers, Rainforest Alliance (RA) and UTZ, merged in January 2018, and will be moving forward under the RA certification program.
- The new certification program is still in development, and they plan to publish it in June 2020 with audits becoming mandatory in mid-2021.
- Covers similar commodities as Fairtrade, including cocoa and coffee.
- Farmers can become RA certified, and companies can purchase RA-certified products and receive a Chain of Custody certification.
- The certification sets standards to strengthen farm management, increase transparency and provide oversight to mitigate both deforestation and human rights abuses.
- The 2020 RA Sustainable Agriculture Standard will include a cut-off date for any conversion of forests or other natural ecosystems to agricultural production or other land uses. Production on land converted after January 1, 2014 is ineligible for certification.
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
- The FSC sets standards for responsible forest management. Over 380 million acres of forests are certified under FSC’s system.
- The FSC certification covers commodities produced through forestry, including wood and paper-based products (lumber, furniture, paper and tissue) and natural rubber.
- There are two types of FSC certification: Forest Management Certification for forest managers (e.g. plantation owners) and Chain-of-Custody Certification for any company that sources forest commodities.
- FSC Principles and Criteria prohibits conversion of natural forests to plantations and the use of land converted directly from natural forest to non-forest land use, with a cut-off date of November 1994. However, it excludes cases in which the land conversion a) is minimal in area, b) will clearly lead to long-term conservation benefits, and c) does not damage or threaten areas with High Conservation Value.
- These exceptions may make this certification less effective in ensuring that deforestation is not occurring on the ground.
The two major multi-stakeholder initiatives for beef are the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) and the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB). Participation in both of these roundtables is voluntary, and none of the principles are binding. Because U.S. beef production does not usually involve deforestation, the USRSB does not have an emphasis on deforestation. The GRSB’s criteria regarding the protection of natural resources include a focus on minimizing net GHG emissions from the beef value chain and include:
- Protection of native forests from deforestation and protection of grasslands, other native ecosystems, and high conservation value areas from land conversion and degradation.
- The GRSB does not explicitly mention or provide guidance on how any criteria should be monitored or evaluated.
High Carbon Stock (HCS) and High Conservation Value (HCV) approaches
- Some corporate no-deforestation commitments specify that the company will work to eliminate deforestation in High Conservation Value (HCV) areas or High Carbon Stock (HCS) forests. HCV and HCS assessment is also a requirement of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil certification (see below).
- HCS forests are those that have been identified to contain high values of carbon and biodiversity that should be preserved. This approach distinguishes HCS forests from degraded land that could safely be developed.
- However, the HCS approach may not account for important ecosystems like the Cerrado, where much of the soy sourced from Brazil originates. To determine areas to protect, companies should pair the HCS approach with the HCV approach, which covers areas with other attributes. This includes areas that: contain rare, threatened or endangered ecosystems; provide basic services of nature in critical situations (e.g. erosion control); areas that are fundamental to meeting basic local community needs; and areas critical to local communities’ traditional cultural identities. These attributes may not be covered by the HCS approach alone.
Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)
Over 3,000 companies certify their palm oil supply through RSPO, making it the most widely used certification program for palm oil.
- The RSPO Principles & Criteria for the Production of Sustainable Palm Oil include several criteria that are aligned with Ceres recommendations. These include:
- No new planting on peat, regardless of depth, after November 15, 2018, with responsible management of all peatlands
- Land clearing since November 2005 must not cause deforestation or damage any area required to protect or enhance High Conservation Value or High Carbon Stock forest.
- There are several ways companies may indicate that their palm oil is RSPO-certified, but not all of these methods ensure that the entire supply chain is free of deforestation:
- Identity Preserved: Sustainable palm oil from a single identifiable certified source is kept separately from ordinary palm oil throughout the supply chain.
- Segregated: Sustainable palm oil from different certified sources is mixed together, but kept separate from ordinary palm oil throughout the supply chain.
- Mass Balance: Sustainable palm oil from certified sources is mixed with ordinary palm oil throughout the supply chain.
- RSPO Credits/Book & Claim: The supply chain is not monitored for the presence of sustainable palm oil. Manufacturers and retailers can buy credits from RSPO-certified growers, crushers and independent smallholders.
- Even in the most rigorous Identity Preserved supply chains, there is no way for a downstream company to track the premiums paid to suppliers and whether they make their way to farmers on the ground.
- There are no stipulations on how the premiums should be used.
No Peat, No Deforestation, No Exploitation (NDPE) commitments
- NDPE commitments and policies are voluntary, market-based commitments used by an increasing number of traders and manufacturers sourcing palm oil.
- There is no collective entity or initiative that defines or oversees these commitments, and different companies may employ these commitments in different ways.
- There is no definitive definition of what must be included in an NDPE commitment. The following are some principles NDPE commitments may include:
- No deforestation: Refers to avoiding deforestation for commodity production. Companies may use the High Conservation Value or High Carbon Stock Approach to define areas that should not be converted.
- No development on peat: Refers to no development on peatland, and usually stipulates that no new development will occur regardless of peatland depth, and existing plantations on peatland will use Best Management Practices. Companies may also commit to restoring peatlands.
- No exploitation: Refers to avoiding the exploitation of workers, local communities and smallholder farmers.
Roundtable for Responsible Soy (RTRS)
RTRS is a multi-stakeholder initiative that certifies soybeans produced according to their standards, and products that utilize certified soybeans.
RTRS has two types of supply chain certifications:
Segregation: Soy from one or more RTRS-Certified properties is kept physically separate from other, non-certified sources.
Mass Balance: Soy from one or more RTRS-Certified properties may be mixed with sources of non-certified soy, provided that the mixing process is monitored.
The RTRS Standard for Responsible Production (Version 3.1) states that expansion of soy cultivation must be responsible, and stipulates that the following:
Clearing or conversion of land is prohibited after May 2009 for the following land types: Areas where RTRS maps are available, and where RTRS maps are not available; areas that include native forests; riparian vegetation, natural wetlands and steep slopes; andas areas designated by law to serve the purpose of native conservation and/or cultural and social protection.
No conversion is allowed after June 3rd, 2016 for any natural land or steep slopes.
The mostly widely recognized standards for ESG reporting include:
- The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
- Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB)
- International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC)
- The Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TFCD)
- Climate Disclosures Standards Board (CDSB)
The above disclosure frameworks and standards may not explicitly include guidance for disclosing on deforestation-related issues. A Task Force on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures is currently in development and may in the future provide additional guidance for companies to assess and disclose the financial materiality of their nature-based assets and risks.
Other resources to evaluate corporate actions and engage with companies
Detailed corporate disclosures are crucial for investors to manage their portfolio risks and keep companies accountable for their progress on key environmental and social issues. CDP is the most commonly used standardized environmental disclosure system. Through its Forests and Climate questionnaires, CDP asks companies to disclose key indicators to help investors understand what progress is being made and what areas require further engagement. Learn more.
World Wildlife Fund and the Science Based Targets Initiative
Many companies have GHG emissions reduction targets, but what makes a good target? Increasingly, investors are asking companies to set science-based targets. The Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) is a partnership between CDP, the UN Global Compact and other groups that validates corporate GHG emissions reduction targets that are aligned with what is necessary to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The World Wildlife Fund is leading the SBTi Forest, Land and Agriculture project (SBTi FLAG) to address the methodology gap that has prevented companies from creating emissions reductions targets for emissions agriculture, forestry and other land use in a consistent and accurate manner. Learn more.
Tropical Forest Alliance
The Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) is a multi stakeholder partnership platform hosted by the World Economic Forum that seeks to support the implementation of private-sector commitments to eliminate deforestation from palm oil, beef, soy, and pulp and paper supply chains and operations. The TFA recently launched a Collective Action Agenda that charts a framework and an urgent call to action for what must be achieved in the post-2020 period to achieve a forest positive future. Learn more.
United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
UNDP is a United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. With a network of experts and partners in 170 countries, UNDP helps nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and planet. UNDP, with Climate Advisers and Meridian Institute, hosts the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) Global Platform. The NYDF is a commitment by governments, companies, Indigenous Peoples, and NGOs to halt natural forest loss by 2030 and to protect, restore, and sustainably manage forests. The Platform promotes collective action and knowledge sharing to accelerate achievement of the 10 NYDF goals. Learn more.
Forest Trends’ Supply Change Initiative
Forest Trends’ Supply Change Initiative is the largest freely available global tracking platform of companies - representing all levels of the supply chain from producers to retailers - for their commitments to address commodity-driven deforestation from the production of palm oil, soy, timber & pulp, cattle, and cocoa. This tracking also includes associated commitment goals and procurement policies, as well as the progress companies have made in achieving their commitments over time. Companies are profiled on www.supply-change.org and additional data for hundreds of metrics are available to partners. Contact: email@example.com. Learn more.
The Soft Commodities Forum (SCF)
The SCF is a pre-competitive platform convened by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), bringing together leading agribusinesses to address critical sustainability issues in their supply chains. Since 2019, the Soft Commodities Forum has been working on pragmatic, sector-wide solutions to address soy-driven deforestation and conversion in the Brazilian Cerrado. The SCF works on three critical focus areas: Bringing transparency and traceability to its members soy supply chains; Engaging with soy producers at landscape level to bring their voice to the fore and identify critical incentives for sustainable soy production, beyond legality; and collaborating across the value chain to find solutions that work, from farm to fork. In 2020, the group has partnered with Solidaridad Brazil and the Produce Conserve, Include (PCI) initiative to test approaches in Western Bahia and Mato Grosso respectively. The SCF discloses its progress every six months; their latest report was published in June 2020. Learn more.
The Soy Toolkit is an open capacity building platform on responsible sourcing of soy that provides a clear and accessible guide to a wide range of existing and emerging solutions available to decouple soy sourcing from deforestation, habitat conversion and human rights violations. By sharing knowledge on the different available tools, approaches and initiatives, the Soy Toolkit empowers companies to deliver on their deforestation and climate related commitments. The Soy Toolkit also provides investors with the resources to assess the risk of exposure to deforestation of companies in their portfolio and to understand best practices to look for in companies. Learn more.
The Accountability Framework Initiative
The Accountability Framework is a set of common norms and guidance for establishing, implementing, and demonstrating progress on ethical supply chain commitments in agriculture and forestry. The Accountability Framework Initiative has a comprehensive and vetted set of definitions for terms related to deforestation. Learn more.
Global Canopy is a non-profit organization that tackles deforestation by addressing the market forces destroying tropical forests. One of their projects, Forest 500, ranks 350 companies and 150 financial institutions on their overall approach and specific policies regarding potential deforestation embedded in forest-risk supply chains. In 2019, Forest 500 updated their methodology for better alignment with the Accountability Framework. Learn more.
Part 6: Engaging on Deforestation - Next Steps
Other resources for engaging on deforestation
Ceres supports investors interested in engaging on deforestation
Ceres actively supports investors looking to drive corporate action on deforestation by: providing information on progress; helping investors define outcome-based metrics and other performance indicators that will strengthen corporate commitments; and supporting collective action ‘asks’ from investors to companies. Investors should also consider joining the Ceres networks below to help expedite corporate actions on broader environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. To learn more, please reach out to Hugh W. Brown Jr (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Cambria Arvizo (email@example.com).
Ceres Investor Network on Climate Risk and Sustainability
This network is comprised of more than 130 institutional investors collectively managing more than $17 trillion in assets. It works to advance leading investment practices, corporate engagement strategies and policy solutions to build an equitable, sustainable global economy and planet. The network engages directly with portfolio companies on ESG risks and opportunities through investor engagement tactics via multiple working groups, including the Shareholder Initiative for Climate and Sustainability (SICS).
The Investor Initiative for Sustainable Forests (IISF)
A joint initiative led by Ceres and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), which aims to transform industry practices to eliminate deforestation from cattle and soy supply chains. Learn more.
Climate Action 100+
An investor-led initiative which engages the world’s largest corporate GHG emitters, to take bolder actions on climate change. To date, more than 360 investors with more than $34 trillion in assets under management have joined the initiative. More than a dozen companies on the Climate Action 100+ list are in the food and beverage sector. A key investor priority is getting these companies to set robust scope 3 GHG reduction targets that include commitments to end deforestation in their supply chains. Learn more.
Additional questions to ask during company engagements
Company climate targets
- Are the company’s GHG reduction targets...
- ...SBTi approved?
- ...a reduction in absolute emissions?
- ...inclusive of Scope 3 emissions, even if Scope 3 emissions are less than 40% of the company’s total GHG inventory?
- Does the company have a robust strategy to ensure it meets its targets, including setting interim goals?
- Has the company completed a risk assessment of its ESG impacts? Does the company know which climate change impacts may be financially material?
- Does the company’s policy cover both direct and indirect suppliers?
- Are the company’s commitments commodity-specific, quantifiable, and time-bound?
- Does the company have a time-bound action plan for suppliers or regions that currently have a significant deforestation impact?
- Does the company have an implementation plan to meet its time-bound commitments, including setting interim goals ahead of the commitment deadlines?
Supply chain implementation
- For beef suppliers, does the company’s supply chain traceability go beyond the slaughterhouse level?
- Does the company have an action plan to implement supply chain traceability?
- Does the company have a grievance policy and/or a code of conduct that specifically addresses environmental grievances such as deforestation?
- How are these grievances addressed without retribution to the grievance source?
- Does the company provide technical or financial support to producers of forest risk commodities in their supply chain?
- Has the company verified that these forms of support are contextually valid?
Disclosure of progress
- Are the company’s disclosures aligned with the Task Force on Climate-Related Disclosure (TCFD)’s recommendations?
- Does the company disclose progress towards its no-deforestation and climate commitments in its own publications and third-party platforms (e.g. CDP)?
- Does the company disclose the percentage of its suppliers or its total supply that is in compliance with its policies?
- Does this percentage include indirect suppliers?
- Does the company disclose quantifiable progress annually?