Veronika, Rebecca – where does the world stand today when it comes to deforestation?
Veronika: It is a very urgent topic, because deforestation has a major impact on the people and wildlife living in the deforested areas, and it is a driver for climate change, which we are all experiencing now, worldwide. The recent Covid-19 crisis also emphasized the importance of fighting this issue, especially in high risk areas such as South America or South-East Asia.
Rebecca: The planet is in crisis, and we urgently need to take decisive action to restore its health. As a business, and through our Unilever brands, we have a responsibility to play our part. We take this very seriously and want to use our purchasing power to drive transformation– through partnerships, advocacy and committed work on the ground.
Why is this topic on the agenda of METRO and Unilever?
Veronika: We are connected to deforestation, since we purchase and sell products that can contain ingredients that might have caused it – for instance products with palm oil or soy in it, or paper from cut down trees. This is why we aim for transparency about ingredients and their origin, for example to only sell sustainable palm oil until end of 2020.
Rebecca: As a significant buyer of palm oil, as well as of other commodities associated with a risk of deforestation, we have a responsibility to take action. We have a target to have a deforestation free supply chain by 2023. To do this, Unilever is focusing our energy on three key areas: traceability and transparency through digital technologies such as satellite monitoring; secondly, accelerating smallholder inclusion, for instance with agronomic training programs; and third, our changed approach to derivates sourcing.