2017, twentythree global companies have signed the Statement of Support – a call to action to halt deforestation and native vegetation loss in Brazil’s Cerrado. Now the number of companies has nearly tripled to 61 signatories. This significant milestone was marked during a meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

On 25th October 2017, 23 global companies including Ahold Delhaize, Marks & Spencer, METRO, Tesco, McDonalds, Nando’s, Unilever and Walmart launched a Statement of Support (SoS) for the objectives of the Cerrado Manifesto; a call to action to halt deforestation and native vegetation loss in Brazil’s Cerrado.

In just three months, the number of companies pledging to support the SoS has nearly tripled to 61 signatories. Signatory companies extend beyond membership of the Consumer Goods Forum and span multiple supply chains from retail to consumer goods to food service and personal care. New signatories include Aldi NL, Auchan Retail, Bel Group (Fromageries Bel SA), Casino Group, Cooperl, Grupo Bimbo, Grupo Éxito, Mondelēz International and Wm Morrison Supermarkets, amongst others. This significant milestone will be marked during a meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, hosted by the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, where Al Gore, Christiana Figueres and President Santos of Colombia will join other climate leaders calling for the need to upscale action to protect forests and other carbon rich ecosystems, given they are estimated to contribute 37% of collective emissions reductions potential to 2030.

The SoS for the Cerrado Manifesto aims to promote more resilient agriculture and land planning practices in the region. These companies all use Brazilian soy or cattle in their products or supply chains and are therefore important customers to these sectors. They support development and growth in soy and cattle producing regions in a manner that avoids
deforestation and native vegetation loss, such as using the 25.4 million hectares of already converted land that is suitable for agriculture.

Signatories to the SoS recognise that alongside individual company action, our combined voices can support meaningful and wider policy discussions. SoS signatories are committed to working with local and international stakeholders to halt deforestation and native vegetation loss in the Cerrado.

The number of supportive companies continues to grow, and the immediate priority is to form a working group with the remit to develop a roadmap and implementation plan to deliver on the Statement of Support’s aims and objectives. Only by working together can we move  towards more secure food systems and achieve our climate and sustainable development goals. This enhanced commitment takes us a step closer to a better future. Barry Callebaut CEO, Antoine de Saint-Affrique, said “In its ‘Forever Chocolate’ sustainability vision, Barry Callebaut has committed to become Forest Positive and Carbon Positive, and to source all its ingredients sustainably by 2025. We owe it to all chocolate lovers, and we owe it to the next generations. Joining the Cerrado manifesto was therefore an obvious decision, and one we hope everybody with a stake in agricultural raw materials will make.”

Antoine Fiévet, Chairman and CEO of Bel Group (Fromageries Bel SA), said “Since 2014, Bel & its partner WWF France support a Cerrado-protecting field project in Mato Grosso, Brazil to ensure biodiversity conservation through sustainable soy production. Today, 17 producers are RTRS certified and 20,000 hectares of Cerrado forest have already been preserved. Taking part in the Cerrado Manifesto is a new step for Bel and is completely aligned with our 2025 commitment to ensure zero deforestation certified sourcing. We are proud to be one of the 61 leading global companies pledging to halt deforestation and native vegetation loss in Brazil’s Cerrado.”

Daniel Servitje, Chairman and CEO Grupo Bimbo, said “At Grupo Bimbo, we celebrate and join this important initiative. Today, Cerrado needs us to take responsible actions in order to protect its biodiversity. May this be one of many successful stories for our ecosystems preservation. Let’s keep advancing in our environment´s care to deliver a better planet for the
next generations.”

Mike Barry, Director Plan A Marks & Spencer, said “Soy is an incredibly important part of the global food system, for producers, manufacturers and retailers alike. M&S has taken many steps to make our own soy supply chains more sustainable including helping soy smallholders in Paraguay and leading the CGF Soy Working Group. However, we recognise that on an issue this big and complex only collaborative action to protect the Cerrado within a framework of good development planning and governance working alongside policy makers, producers, traders & civil society will deliver sustainable development pathways that support resilient soy & cattle production in the region.”

Olaf Koch, CEO METRO AG, remarks “Sustainability is part of METRO’s overall business strategy. We always strive to use our global reach to keep creating real impact. METRO was the first German retailer to actively support the Cerrado Manifesto, signing the Statement of  Support to help create impact for the important topic of deforestation. We are pleased to see that the number of signatories to the Statement of Support has nearly tripled, to 61 companies, in three months, but we feel that we all can do more. We therefore call upon other retail organisations, as well as suppliers, to take action by also undersigning the Cerrado Manifesto Statement of Support.”

Mike Coupe, Chief Executive, Sainsbury’s Group said “In 2011 Sainsbury’s committed to ensuring that our products do not contribute to global deforestation, and we know that working collaboratively with our suppliers, partners and local and international stakeholders is absolutely key to achieving this goal. We are proud to be one of the first signatories of the Cerrado Manifesto, and are delighted to work alongside the new signatories to the Statement of Support to halt deforestation and vegetation loss in the Cerrado. We will also be working closely with our supply base to support this collective action.”

“In just a few short months, we’re proud of the growing number of companies stepping up to help conserve the Cerrado’s vital ecosystem” remarked Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “As a community, we must now build on this progress and take definitive steps to both conserve critical wildlife habitat and ensure the long-term viability
of agriculture in this region.”

“The rapid conversion of Brazil’s precious Cerrado savannah to cropland and pasture is not only tragic, but also unnecessary,” said Kavita Prakash-Mani, practice leader, Markets, WWF. “By rehabilitating land that’s already been cleared, we can meet future demand for soy and beef without losing another hectare of native Cerrado. We applaud these corporate commitments to protect this biome, which is home to 5 percent of the planet’s biodiversity. The move sends a critical signal to producers, processors, and traders that the Cerrado is as vital to our planet as the Amazon.”

Foto credits: © Juan Pratginestos / WWF