GENEVA, SWITZERLAND — Members of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s (WBCSD) Soft Commodities Forum (SCF) are committing to supporting transparent and traceable soy supply chains in Brazil’s Cerrado region.
According to the SCF, the Cerrado region of Brazil plays a significant role globally for both people and nature, including climate change mitigation, biodiversity, fresh water systems, and as an economic engine for local communities as a production region for exported agricultural commodities. The extent and pace of native vegetation loss resulting from cattle and soy expansion in the Cerrado poses a significant threat to these social, environmental and economic values, though.
“We are continuously seeking to rise to the challenge of feeding the world’s growing population in a sustainable manner,” said Ian McIntosh, chief executive officer of Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC). “This means being mindful to preserve the environment, including areas of importance for their biodiversity. Brazil’s Cerrado Biome is one such area, where every effort must be made to ensure that any agricultural expansion occurs hand-in-hand with the preservation of native vegetation. The Soft Commodities Forum allows us to set common sustainability goals with our peers, and mutual reports on our progress, as one of the means we have to ensure fair and sustainable value creation.”
In addition to LDC, members of the SCF consist of the founding members Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Bunge and Cargill. The SFC membership has expanded to include COFCO International and Glencore Agriculture.
SCF member companies recognize the existing risks and commit to act on supporting transparent and traceable soy supply chains in Brazil.
“Cargill is proud to join other leaders in the industry to support actions that help Brazilian farmers protect forests, preserve natural resources and maintain their livelihoods,” said David MacLennan, chairman and CEO of Cargill. “Today’s announcement brings the industry together around shared goals and accountability to ensure continued progress against our sustainability commitments.”
Each member company will report updates on progress every six months. In addition, the SCF member companies are participating in the processes of the Cerrado Working Group, also known as GTC, to develop agreed common definitions, to design appropriate financial incentives, and to outline actions that should be taken.
“Transparency and data improve trust and facilitate problem solving,” said Greg Heckman, acting CEO at Bunge. “Today’s commitment will generate more of both. It is an important step by industry leaders that will help optimize agricultural sustainability in a vital region.”
Starting with 2018 harvest data, the SCF member companies will report individually the percentage of soy they each source in the Cerrado from the total Brazilian volume. Together, the SCF members will monitor municipalities with the highest risk of conversion of native vegetation to soy, based on GTC information. Sourcing in these municipalities will be reported in percentages of direct purchase from farmers, and indirect purchase, from parties like aggregators, cooperatives and third parties. The first report will be issued in June 2019.
The process will be supported by Proforest, a non-profit group that supports companies, governments and other organizations to implement their commitments to the responsible production and sourcing of agricultural commodities and forest products.
“For ADM, sustainable practices and a focus on environmental responsibility are integral to the work we do every day,” said Juan Luciano, chairman and CEO of ADM. “Since we first made our Commitment to No Deforestation in 2015, we’ve made significant progress in achieving transparency in our own supply chains, and in working with our industry counterparts so that we are all advancing these important goals. The framework and standards we’ve agreed upon as part of the Soft Commodities Forum is a critical step forward in our collective efforts to preserve and protect the environment and the people of the Brazilian Cerrado biome.”
Subsequent reporting will provide information on specific actions being taken to improve direct engagement with farmers to address risks in the municipalities.
“This initiative is a great example of collaborative action urgently needed to safeguard future food and agricultural production while ensuring environmental conservation,” said Johnny Chi, chairman of COFCO International. “COFCO International will continue engaging various stakeholder groups in key forums such as the Soft Commodities Forum and Cerrado Working Group, to achieve this shared objective.”
The Soft Commodities Forum (SCF) is a global platform for leading soft commodities companies, convened by the WBCSD for the purpose of advancing collective action around common sustainability challenges. The SCF is made up of WBCSD member companies. The WBCSD describes itself as “a CEO-led organization of forward-thinking companies that galvanizes the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment.”
“The Soft Commodities Forum facilitates the first time leading global commodity traders are working together in a pre-competitive project to address sustainability risks they all share, but which no single company can resolve alone,” said Diane Holdorf, managing director Food & Nature at WBCSD. “Unprecedented collaboration such as this, together with other stakeholders, is required to address these complex food system challenges.”