2014: A Breakthrough Year for Protecting Global Forests

By Rainforest Action Network

2014 will long stand out as a breakthrough moment in RAN’s history. This is the year when our long term work reached a turning point and began to achieve truly systemic change,  transforming the destructive way palm oil is produced, traded and sold worldwide. 

We are always cautious and skeptical about corporate commitments, and in many ways the hard work of turning promises into action begins now, but it is fair to say that a new global benchmark has been set for responsible palm oil production in 2014. Significantly, all the major new policies secured this year that meet that new benchmark include hard fought standards for human and labor rights,as well as climate pollution, alongside their deforestation commitments.

This is huge! And it could not have happened without you.

The rapid succession of high profile responsible palm oil commitments achieved this year are the direct result of years of unrelenting campaigning and tireless support from people all over the world. Millions of emails, thousands of phone calls, hundreds of actions, dozens of high-impact media stories and countless hours of intensive, behind-the-scenes corporate negotiations and stockholder engagement finally convinced many of the biggest multibillion dollar players in the international palm oil industry to commit to cut their ties to deforestation, human rights abuses and carbon pollution.

Huge amounts of work still needs to be done, and we will continue to push hard to make sure these corporate pledges create the much-needed real change on the ground. But it must be said that this stunning and celebrated shift was almost unimaginable just a few years ago. 

And that’s not all! Here’s a sampling of some of the other major forest program milestones achieved by RAN in 2014:

–   Transforming Cargill!After seven years of shifting tactics and non-stop pressure, agribusiness giant Cargill’s CEO announced one of the most far-reaching zero-deforestation commitments ever established. This commitment covers Cargill’s sprawling global empire of commodities, including palm oil, sugar, soy, cattle, and cocoa.

–   Getting Rainforest Destruction “Out of Fashion!”This year, RAN launched Out of Fashion: a campaign for forest-friendly fabrics, putting the “Fashion 15,” group of big name brands, on notice that forests across the world are being destroyed to create the fabrics we wear every day, and it stops now.

–   Cutting Conflict Palm Oil Out of Our Snacks!We took on the top 20 snack food companies and to date, 10 of these corporate giants have made commitments to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from their supply chains. One of the biggest remaining laggards, PepsiCo, is squarely in our sights and is already feeling strong pressure to do the right thing.

–   Global Action for Global Good! On May 20th, the Global Day of Action to Cut Conflict Palm Oil became the largest such effort in RAN’s 30 year history, generating over 130 events hosted by thousands of activists from all over the world.

–   Protecting the “Last Place on Earth!”This November, RAN released The Last Place on Earth — a detailed and deeply researched report drawing a line in the sand to stop the destruction of the extraordinary Leuser Ecosystem, one of the most biodiverse landscapes on earth. The report implicated dozens of companies by name and produced immediate responses and supply chain action by two of the world’s biggest palm oil producing companies.

–   Holding the Line on Asia Pulp and Paper!APP, long one of the world’s most notorious forest destroyers and a target of hard hitting RAN campaigning for many years, passed a landmark Forest Conservation Policy in early 2013. But as always, the devil is in the details and RAN has been busy this year keeping an eagle eye on APP to hold the company accountable as it begins to implement its new policy. Our efforts have helped secure major new commitments that expand the scope of APP’s policy along with a pledge to restore or conserve millions of acres. We have also  worked closely with local allies to train and support communities  working with APP to reclaim their land rights.  

The threats facing the world’s forests, our climate, and all the people who depend on them are enormous and can be daunting. But as we look ahead into 2015 we feel a new sense of momentum to our work and a bigger, stronger network of allies and activists than ever before.

With your continued support, we will come out swinging in the new year and double down in our efforts to defend the world’s forests from destruction and hold the world’s largest companies responsible for the severe consequences of their business practices.

Thank you and stay tuned for more to come!

Ginger Cassady