San Francisco, CA – Today, Nestlé –– the world’s largest food and beverage company –– publicly disclosed the “forest footprint” of its palm oil supply chain in the Indonesian province of Aceh. Responding to mounting public pressure, Nestlé is the first company to publish its forest footprint of an area –– an accounting of the total area of forests, peatlands and the rights of Indigenous and local communities that have been, or could be, impacted by the brand’s consumption of forest-risk commodities like palm oil and paper.
Gemma Tillack, Forest Policy Director at Rainforest Action Network (RAN), issued the following statement:
“Nestlé’s publication of its forest footprint in Aceh sets an important precedent. It’s never been more urgent to keep forests standing –– we have less than a decade to stop the worst impacts of the climate crisis. Nestlé’s action must be followed by its peers, including Mars and Mondelēz, whose supply chains remain tainted with Conflict Palm Oil, pulp and paper, and cocoa produced at the expense of rainforests and the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“All of these companies and many more have made lofty ‘No Deforestation’ commitments that were supposed to be realized by 2020. As the year ends, it’s clear that, until now, none of them even had a true and transparent accounting of the forests and communities affected by their use of forest-risk commodities or their financing. Nestlé has taken the first step to understand its impact in one of the most important forest regions on Earth –– the Leuser Ecosystem.
“Perhaps most importantly, Nestlé has recognized the importance of identifying customary lands and understanding the risks facing communities in its palm oil supply chain. It has also recognized the important role that communities play in safeguarding their forests and peatlands from further degradation or deforestation.
“As the stewards of the last rainforests, it’s never been more critical to secure land rights for Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Nestlé’s is calling this shift in its approach an evolution from a no-deforestation strategy to a ‘Forest Positive’ one.
“Nestlé’s ‘Palm Oil Forest Footprint’ analysis has identified 89,667 hectares of forests and 8000 hectares of peatlands at risk of clearance, including inside palm oil concessions in the Leuser Ecosystem –– the last rainforest where Sumatran orangutans, elephants, rhinos, tigers still roam together in the wild. The Leuser Ecosystem also provides over 4 million local people with clean water and livelihoods, and it is globally important as a critical carbon sink. An additional 1.45 million hectares of forested land suitable for palm oil cultivation has been identified within 50km of mills in its supply chain.
“Now, Nestlé must design and implement interventions that drive the protection of these forests and peatlands by palm oil companies and work alongside communities and governments to secure the legal recognition of communities’ rights across the region. Immediate steps must be taken to complete mapping of customary forest areas and develop an understanding of community usage rights, land rights issues, and unresolved conflicts––conflicts that stem from failures to respect the rights of communities to oppose palm development on their lands. Nestlé must go beyond this pilot exercise and follow through with further assessments of its forest footprint across the globe.
“RAN continues to call on the most influential corporations fueling the destruction of rainforests and the violation of human rights to know and disclose their forest footprints, including Colgate-Palmolive, Ferrero, Kao, Mars, Mondeléz, Nestlé, Nissin Foods, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI), CIMB, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), DBS, ABN Amro, and JPMorgan Chase. Time is running out. “