Nov. 8 2021

Leading sustainability authority, Bureau Veritas, is urging global industries to support the COP26 pledge to end and reverse deforestation by 2030 - stating that a political commitment, albeit from over 100 governments worldwide, won’t be enough to enforce change.

The comments come as leaders gathered to discuss, ensuring the importance of nature and sustainable land use are part of global action on climate change and a clean, green recovery on Saturday (November 6 2021). Key commitments to come out of ‘nature’ talks at the global climate summit include the ‘deforestation pledge’; a promise from more than 100 world leaders to end and reverse deforestation by 2030 as part of a £14bn package to tackle human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and to protect vast areas. Over the weekend, a further 34 countries have signed the promise; meaning the declaration now covers 91% of forests globally.

However, since signing the pledge, Indonesia – which is home to the world’s third largest rainforest and produces more than half the world’s supply of palm oil – has questioned the terms of the deal, suggesting that ending deforestation in the country by 2030 is ‘inappropriate and unfair’; citing ‘development’ as the country’s priority.

Commenting on the discussion and the deforestation commitments made at COP26 to date, David Murray, Business Unit Manager - Sustainability at Bureau Veritas, says that relying on politics alone to end global deforestation is unrealistic and more needs to be done to tackle illegal operations.

David said: “It’s encouraging to see that so many global leaders agree that putting an end to deforestation is an absolute must when it comes to tacking our global climate crisis. However, with Indonesia already questioning the terms of the deal, it does raise the question over how realistic and achievable this pledge really is; particularly when you consider the New York Declaration on Forests in 2014 and its catastrophic failure.

“It is simply not enough to expect or assume that politics will mark the end of deforestation. The scale of funding committed to addressing the challenge is incredibly positive, however until we address the crux of the issue – which includes removing deforestation from the global trade of food and other agricultural products such as palm oil, of which only 28 countries have agreed to and also and tackling illegal deforestation, which happens whether there are policies in place or not – it’s unlikely the target of 2030 will be met in the way it’s been positioned.

“The commitment to ending deforestation goes far beyond the policies put in place at COP26, and action is required from industries across the world to make this happen. Irrespective of how quickly laws come into place and commitments are delivered on, industries have a duty to make change happen - whether that is through practices or through the supply chain.”  

Land-clearing accounts for almost a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions by depleting forests that absorb vast amounts of CO2. This is largely from the destruction of forests for products such as palm oil, soy and beef.

David added: “Introducing ‘no deforestation’ policies, severing ties with deforestation, factoring in 100% traceability and committing to ending investment in activities linked to deforestation are all things businesses can be doing to support the end to deforestation.

“Accountability is key, and when introducing new voluntary standards, it is important that companies openly communicate new policies - which is where a third party such as Bureau Veritas can support in verifying sustainability claims and build an additional layer of control to ensure trust, transparency and validity of claims - something that will stand the test of time and support the ambitions of our world’s Governments to put an end to deforestation for good.”

Bureau Veritas is an independent sustainability expert working with global businesses to make change. This includes providing independent Sustainability Report Assurance, to provide confidence that reported information is accurate and free of bias.