It’s Time to Stop the Fires and Deliver on ‘No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation’ Commitments

World Rainforest Day - June 22, 2020

To the Consumer Group Forum (CGF) and Sustainability Steering Committee,

Our planet is in crisis. Last September, a large group of civil society organizations wrote to demand evidence that the CGF and its member companies are prepared to take real action to eliminate and remedy deforestation and human rights abuses in their supply chains. Since then, fires, deforestation, and human rights abuses have gotten worse—destroying irreplaceable ecosystems and threatening communities across Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Yet, CGF and its member companies have done little to leverage their market and supply chain influence for tangible change. Most egregiously, the CGF and its member companies have largely continued sourcing from the same suppliers responsible for deforestation and human rights abuses without repercussion or accountability -- providing market access, contracts, and funds to the perpetrators of these continued violations.

Ten years ago the CGF committed to end its role in deforestation by 2020. These commitments remain unfulfilled, and global deforestation continues unabated. With entire ecosystems and the agricultural systems that depend on them on the brink of collapse, CGF member companies must take ambitious and immediate action to eliminate and remedy deforestation, peatland destruction, and human rights violations throughout their supply chains and support necessary legal and policy reforms. Their failure to deliver results by continuing to perpetuate such harmful practices undermines the legitimacy and credibility of the CGF’s promises.

The current pandemic underscores the urgency of protecting forests. The noxious haze from burning forests hospitalizes hundreds of thousands of people due to respiratory illness each year under normal circumstances—and research has shown the fires have increased premature death rates by approximately 100,000 people in a year in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia alone—a situation poised to be a public health catastrophe given COVID-19. These fires are preventable, and companies that continue to provide funding and contracts to those responsible for the fires will be held publicly accountable for this unfolding environmental and human rights crisis.

We strongly reiterate our call for CGF and its member companies to immediately adopt the steps outlined in our prior letter, re-attached here with a growing set of signatories. We request that the CGF formally and publicly respond to our letter, addressing the full set of recommendations.

We cannot sit silently by as our planet’s last remaining forests are destroyed, gross human rights violations take place, and runaway climate change threatens our collective future. The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) Coalition of Action (CoA) Palm Oil Roadmap in no way matches the urgency of the actions that need to be taken. An all-out ‘stop at nothing’ set of actions is needed to achieve NDPE supply chains this year.

Our planet deserves real leadership and time is running out. When and how will the CGF respond?

Concerned Members of Civil Society

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