Glenn Hurowitz, Managing Director at Climate Advisors, Marc Engel, Chief Procurement Officer of Unilever, Kuok Khoun Hong, CEO of Wilmar International, and Scott Poynton, Executive Director of TFT, getting ready to sign an industry-shifting agreement.
For months now, through the Forest Heroes campaign, Michiganders have been demanding that Kellogg use their joint venture partnership with palm oil giant Wilmar to urge the company to improve its palm oil sourcing policies in order to reduce deforestation and habitat loss. Wilmar has apparently gotten the message. The massive palm oil trader today announced a new policy that has the potential to shift the entire industry.
“With a massive boost from the determined advocacy of Michigan communities, Wilmar has announced it will implement a comprehensive policy to protect forests,” said Deborah Lapidus, Campaigns Director of Catapult, which works with Forest Heroes to transform the palm oil industry. “And we are told a big reason why is that Kellogg’s picked up the phone and demanded action. Thank you, Kellogg’s, for listening to your Michigan neighbors.”
If you’ve been following along here you know that Wilmar’s announcement comes after months of input from Michigan communities and families to Kellogg’s, culminating in a rally and the delivery of thousands of petitions asking Kellogg’s to demand change from its corporate partner, Wilmar. Kellogg’s did just that, and today change happened.
Wilmar’s new policy also comes on the heels of a decade of advocacy from NGOs around the world to persuade the company to adopt stronger standards..
Why all the fuss about palm oil to begin with? Well if you’re new to the campaign and this blog, the palm oil industry is currently one of the most environmentally destructive on the planet. The rapid spread of palm oil plantations is responsible for rampant deforestation, endangered species habitat loss, and severe climate and local air pollution. Though there are now hopes that today’s announcement could begin to change that.
Wilmar’s new “No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation Policy” would, if implemented, catalyze a wholesale change in how palm oil is produced, and where plantations are sited.
So what exactly does the policy entail? Basically, it calls for numerous provisions to change the way commodities are sourced:
- No Deforestation: No more cutting down the rainforest for agricultural production.
- No Exploitation: Protect the rights of workers and communities, including the right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent.
- Protects High Carbon Stock landscape: Including peatlands of any depth.
- Protects High Conservation Value forests: No more clearing of forests that are habitat for endangered species, such as orangutans, Sumatran tigers, elephants, and rhinos.
Up until now, the largely unregulated -- and rapidly growing -- industry has laid waste to more than 30,000 square miles of tropical rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia alone. Palm oil is a $50 billion a year commodity that winds up in roughly half of all consumer goods for sale, including snacks and sweets and soaps and detergents and countless other packaged goods. Over the past decade alone, palm oil imports to the U.S. have increased nearly fivefold. The incredible loss of richly biodiverse rainforests to clearcutting also threatens the 400 or so remaining Sumatran tigers, as well as orangutans, elephants, and rhinos. Not to mention the tens of millions of people who depend on the forests to survive. Then there’s the climate impact of stripping the world of some of its most important carbon sinks. Factor in forest loss, and Indonesia is the world’s third largest source of global warming pollution.
And with a few strokes of the pen, change happens.
When you think of palm oil, you should be thinking about the industry leader Wilmar. As TFT Executive Director Scott Poynton, said today, “Few companies dominate their sectors the way Wilmar dominates palm oil, controlling 45 percent of global trade. Today’s announcement by itself transforms the industry.”
(Read more and find a list of all the media coverage after the jump.)
Huge news here on the Forest Heroes front. For months now Michiganders have been demanding that Kellogg use their relationship with palm oil giant Wilmar to urge the company to improve its sourcing practices to reduce deforestation and habitat loss. And today Wilmar made a landmark new announcement. Here's the official Forest Heroes press release, along with a couple of photos of Forest Heroes volunteers in Battle Creek and Ann Arbor.
Forest Heroes Declares Victory, Part I: TONY ROARS
Asian Agribusiness Giant Wilmar Announces Landmark New Policies After Kellogg’s Push
Battle Creek, Michigan – Today Michiganders made their power felt halfway around the world, as Asian agribusiness giant Wilmar International announced strong new responsible practices following global outcry about the impact of palm oil on Sumatran tiger habitat and the world’s tropical forests.
“Today, Tony the Tiger’s roar was heard halfway around the world,” said Deborah Lapidus, Campaigns Director of Catapult, a campaigning organization that is working with Forest Heroes to transform the palm oil industry. “With a massive boost from the determined advocacy of Michigan communities, Wilmar has announced it will implement a comprehensive policy to protect forests. And we are told a big reason why is that Kellogg’s picked up the phone and demanded action. Thank you, Kellogg’s, for listening to your Michigan neighbors.”
Wilmar’s announcement comes after months of input from Michigan communities and families on Kellogg’s, culminating in a rally and the delivery of thousands of petitions asking Kellogg’s to demand change from its corporate partner, Wilmar. Kellogg’s did just that, and change happened.
Wilmar International’s policy represents a commitment to protect forests and people. Critically, Wilmar’s policy covers not just its own plantations and those of its subsidiaries, but also those of its third party suppliers. Further, it includes strong commitments and realistic, time-limited implementation plans to protect forests, workers, communities, and carbon-rich peatlands. It provides hope to the forests that are home to endangered species like Sumatran tigers, orangutans, elephants and rhinos.
“This is a grrrrrrrreeeat win,” said Emma Hyde, a student at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “But it’s only Part One. For Part Two, we hope that Kellogg’s will very soon announce its own corporate policies eliminating deforestation and exploitation from its own supply chain. And it’s surreal to say so, but Wilmar gives them a good model to follow.”
Wilmar’s announcement is available online here.
Their policy is available online here.
This article is written by guest writer Rabbi Margie Klein and originally appeared on EcoWatch.
This year, as we celebrate Chanukah and we remember the story of the miraculous oil, it’s worth taking a moment to ask—what kind of oil are we talking about?
The Talmud states that the menorah, at the center of the Chanukah story, can only be lit with pure, pressed olive oil. We honor that miracle of one day’s worth of oil lasting for eight by making foods and candles with all sorts of oils. Unfortunately, some of these oils are far from miraculous.
Throughout the Forest Heroes campaign, Michiganders have been picking up the pen (or powering up the laptop) to send letters to the editors of various local newspaper, urging the company to cut ties with Wilmar, the palm oil giant that has proven the world's biggest driver of tropical deforestation and tiger extinction.
Here are a couple recent and noteworthy letters, including one that extends an thoughtful comparison to the wonderful Dr. Seuss tale, The Lorax.
The latter was just published on Wednesday in the Battle Creek Enquirer, Kelloggs' home town paper. In the letter, Battle Creek resident R. Heubel compares Wilmar to the Once-ler, the infamous clearcutter of the popular children's book (and regrettable film adaptation).
The destruction of the rainforest habitat by companies like Wilmar reminds me of the Dr. Seuss story, “The Lorax,” written in 1969.
In Seuss’ story, the character called the “Once-ler” (our Wilmar) discovers a fantastic tree, the “Truffula” tree.
The Once-ler goes about producing many goods — “thneeds” — from the Truffula trees and selling “thneeds” far and wide.
The Once-ler says, “But business is business and business must grow, Regardless of crummies in tummies, you know.
“I meant no harm. I most truly did not.
“But I had to grow bigger. So bigger I got.
“I biggered my factory. I biggered my roads.
“I biggered my wagons. I biggered the loads, of the Thneeds I shipped out. I was shipping them forth, to the South! To the East! To the West! To the North!”
In today’s language, we would call the above “unsustainable developement.”
And we would call that an incredible letter to the editor!
Just as wonderful was one penned by Mark Rey, Executive in residence at the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability at Michigan State University, and published in the Lansing City Pulse. Mark succinctly explains the problems with palm oil, and calls out Kellogg for its uniquely influential position to change the procurement policies from palm oil brokers like Wilmar.
To see a whole lot more recent media about Forest Heroes and the special Cereal Bowl action at the Kellogg's headquarters, check out this recent post.
Families, consumers and community leaders from across Michigan today gathered in Kellogg’s back yard to tell the company: it’s time to be a Forest Hero.
After months of citizen outreach and advocacy throughout Michigan, people from across the state joined together to deliver your name, along with thousands of others, asking Kellogg’s to stop using palm oil from devastated rain forests, and to stop partnering with companies that destroy Sumatran Tiger habitat.
At the event, Forest Heroes poured over 5,000 petitions and letters from Michiganders collected over the past couple months out of an oversize cereal box into a giant bowl, delivered to Kellogg’s at its Battle Creek headquarters.
The group also delivered a sign-on letter from over 100 leading community organizations, businesses, university groups, and faith groups across the state. Advocates dressed as Tony the Tiger and other Kellogg’s icons joined with other Michiganders holding signs urging Kellogg’s to take action.
There are only 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild and they are being pushed to extinction by Kellogg's corporate partners. Today, more than 80 Michiganders turned out -- with signs and posters and banners and a massive six foot tall cereal box -- to loudly tell the company that it's time to be a Forest Hero and stop driving deforestation for palm oil.
Read more about the event (and see an awesome animated GIF of the petition "pour"!) after the jump.
Forest Heroes volunteer interns in Ann Arbor conceived of and installed this thought-provoking action last weekend. The 400 flags planted in the U of Michigan Diag (a famous central quad-type of space on campus) represent the 400 trees that are destroyed every single minute for palm oil destruction.
The signs explain that those 400 trees are equivalent to three football fields (there's something U of Mich folks know well!) every two minutes.
And while organizers didn't mention why the flags were orange, my guess is that they represent the Sumatran tigers who are losing their habitat to palm-oil driven deforestation.
This week, Kellogg got an earful from a very significant shareholder group. The Green Century Equity Fund filed an official resolution urging the company to "confirm that the palm oil used in its products is not linked to illegal and high risk deforestation."
Forest Heroes campaigners have a great ally in the Green Century, which holds a considerable stake in the company, and which makes the strong fiscal case for Kellogg to cut ties with palm oil companies that drive illegal deforestation.
“Consumers look to Kellogg to provide healthy, family friendly products,” stated Leslie Samuelrich, President of Green Century Capital Management. “In order to protect its brand and its investors, Kellogg needs to ensure that its products do not fuel deforestation or drive endangered animals to extinction. This requires taking responsibility for ensuring suppliers are upholding Kellogg’s values.”
Check out the full release after the jump.
Yesterday, Unilever and Ferrero made major announcements on palm oil. Here's a statement by Glenn Hurowitz, author and senior fellow at the Center for International Policy.
“Taken together, today's announcements by consumer products giants Unilever and Ferrero show an industry in transformation.
“All along the palm oil supply chain, savvy companies that want access to the high-value, high-margin markets are understanding that means ending dependance on deforestation-based sources. Sustainability is not just a notional good. There is an enormous opportunity for traders and growers who can outcompete by out-sustaining the competition.
“Today’s announcements coincide with a meeting of the RSPO — but both go much further than anything endorsed by that organization. At this rate, the RSPO is in danger of being a lagging indicator.”
Global consumer products leader Unilever today announced that 100% of the palm oil used in its supply chain would by fully traceable to known sources by the end of next year.
Global chocolatier and confectioner Ferrero today announced it would become a member of sustainable supply chain nonprofit TFT, and work to make sure that its supply chain has no link to deforestation by the end of 2014.
The announcement comes in the context of a meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) currently kicking off in Indonesia. Both announcements go much further than anything endorsed by RSPO.