Elucidating the impacts of zero deforestation

Our research examines the implications of private sector commitments to zero deforestation in the context of wider public and private institutional arrangements

Over the past 30 years, demand for agricultural commodities has increased, which has expanded production frontiers and driven deforestation. Recently some of the world’s largest consumer goods companies have committed to eliminating deforestation from their supply chains. This bold step puts pressure on producers and processors of key commodities, notably soy, beef and palm oil, to embrace zero deforestation commitments as well.

Zero deforestation pledges may offer a way to halt deforestation if they are implemented effectively. Yet they also create risks for smallholders, who may be excluded from global value chains by the high costs and operational challenges of demonstrating that their production is deforestation free. Conversely, companies may be willing to support smallholders to upgrade their production systems to meet zero deforestation commitments. There are questions too about how governments can support these pledges while retaining national sovereignty in decisions about land governance, economic growth and poverty alleviation.

"Solving this multifaceted puzzle requires a collaborative approach: bringing together public and private initiatives and pooling finance. Neither public rules nor private commitments must dictate the rules of the game.”

In 2015, CIFOR started to examine the scope and implications of corporate zero deforestation commitments. We are evaluating private sector efforts to deliver sustainable production that is both deforestation-free and inclusive of smallholders in the context of broader institutional arrangements. In March 2015 CIFOR convened a panel on zero deforestation in Indonesia at the World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty, involving KADIN, SNV and CIFOR. With the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 we also convened a discussion forum at GLF 2015 in December 2015 with a focus on oil palm in Indonesia, involving the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, Musim Mas, Greenpeace and Unilever.

in Indonesian palm oil sector have made sustainability commitments
have made commitments on zero deforestation
area cultivated by smallholders