Corporate commitments to zero deforestation: An evaluation of externality problems and implementation gaps
Reducing the footprint of high forest-risk commodities (oil palm, soy, wood and cattle) - in the context of mounting concerns over climate change - has featured prominently in global environmental governance discourse. In the late 2000s, this led to civil society groups putting increased pressure on major commodity producers in Northern countries to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains. In 2010, a newly established industry platform, the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), responded to this challenge by having its members collectively pledge to work towards achieving zero net deforestation (ZND) for high forest-risk commodities by 2020. Many leading commodity producers, traders, manufacturers and retailers soon followed suit with individual time-bound commitments. This research critically examines the ZDCs of 50 'powerbrokers' in order to identify potential implementation gaps and externality problems that demand greater attention going forward. Through interviews held with major ZDC adopters and an analysis of corporate policies and strategies using a hierarchical framework, this paper evaluates 'what' companies are committed to and 'how' companies are planning to deliver on those commitments. These are divided into commitments related to achieving 'zero deforestation' (ZD) and commitments related to the management of 'negative externalities.'