Using supply chain data to monitor zero deforestation commitments: an assessment of progress in the Brazilian soy sector

Erasmus zu Ermgassen, Ben Ayre, J. Godar, Mairon Bastos Lima, Simone Bauch, Rachael Garrett, Jonathan Michael Halsey Green, Michael Lathuilliere, Pernilla Lofgren, Christina Macfarquhar, Patrick Meyfroidt, Clement Suavet, Christopher David West, Toby A. Gardner

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Zero deforestation commitments (ZDCs) are voluntary initiatives where companies or countries pledge to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains. These commitments offer much promise for sustainable commodity production, but are undermined by a lack of transparency about their coverage and impacts. Here, using state-of-the-art supply chain data, we introduce an approach to evaluate the impact of ZDCs, linking traders and international markets to commodity-associated deforestation in the sub-national jurisdictions from which they source. We focus on the Brazilian soy sector, where we find that ZDC coverage is increasing, but under-represents the Cerrado biome where most soy-associated deforestation currently takes place. Though soy-associated deforestation declined in the Amazon after the introduction of the Soy Moratorium, we observe no change in the exposure of companies or countries adopting ZDCs to soy-associated deforestation in the Cerrado. We further assess the formulation and implementation of these ZDCs and identify several systematic weaknesses that must be addressed to increase the likelihood that they achieve meaningful reductions in deforestation in future. As the 2020 deadline for several of these commitments approaches, our approach can provide independent monitoring of progress toward the goal of ending commodity-associated deforestation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number035003
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number3
Early online date20 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2020

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© 2019 The Author(s).

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