Climate and Rights Advocates Warn CAGNY Conference Investors that Deforestation and Rights Abuses are Bad For Business

Protestors plan a “welcome party” to expose big brands’ role in driving the climate crisis and Indigenous rights violations

Boca Raton, Fl – As many of the world’s leading investment institutions and consumer goods companies gather this week at the luxurious coastal resort, The Boca Raton, they will be met with colorful protests by a group of concerned climate and human rights advocates imploring them to clean up their destructive practices. The Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) is a fifty year old corporate conference that was formed to “cultivate a robust and regular dialogue among investors and industry executives.” Environmental and human rights advocates have traveled from around the country to highlight the fact that the corporations represented at this elite conference are known to be some of the biggest drivers of forest loss and community conflicts around the world.

“The consumer goods corporations represented at this conference wield tremendous global influence, and the environmental toll exacted by this sector is extremely troubling,” said Maggie Martin of RAN. “It is well documented that brands like Mondelēz and Procter and Gamble are driving massive deforestation and Indigenous rights violations, and it is imperative that investors begin to play a more active role in demanding traceability and accountability from corporations that flout ethical standards.”

Most major brands have made public policy promises to stop sourcing forest-risk commodities from bad actors, including some of the biggest headline presenters at this week’s conference. But many of them, including Mondelēz and Procter and Gamble, recently received failing grades in the annual Keep Forests Standing Scorecard. This report uses a comprehensive set of criteria to evaluate ten of the largest brands behind the deforestation and human rights crises. 

The activists who have traveled to Florida this week say they are here to bring a message to big investors that the failure of these brands to fulfill their public pledges to end deforestation is not just a moral and environmental issue but also a financial danger to the investors themselves. This risk arises from growing consumer outcry and the imminent implementation of new, precedent-setting regulations, including the recently adopted European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR)

The EUDR requires all companies that import forest-risk commodities into the EU, which includes cattle, cocoa, soy, palm oil, coffee, rubber or wood products, to trace the commodities used in their products back to the plot of land where they were produced. Companies caught sourcing products from deforested land are liable to be fined up to 4% of their annual revenue. While the regulations are designed to allow corporations until roughly 2025 to achieve full compliance, the data presented in the Scorecard report demonstrates that major global brands are not on track to meet these new requirements, exposing their investors and financiers to real material risk.

Many other recent reports, including one titled the Carbon Bomb Scandals, show that deforestation linked to major consumer goods companies is on the rise, even in places like Indonesia’s nationally protected Rawa Singkil Wildlife Reserve in the globally important Leuser Ecosystem. 

Using evidence obtained through field investigations, satellite imagery analysis and supply chain research, the Carbon Bombs investigation proves that palm oil produced in this protected nature reserve, in violation of corporate deforestation-free commitments, continues to make its way into the products sold by Procter & Gamble, Mondelēz, Nestlé, Unilever, PepsiCo, Colgate-Palmolive, Ferrero, Nissin Foods and others. Activists say this is just one example of an industry-wide problem that involves a fundamental lack of transparency and third-party verification when it comes to sourcing forest-risk commodities.