How Your Investments Have an Impact with Green Century’s Forest Protection Campaign


Deforestation is a leading driver of climate change – and protecting forests from being destroyed is one of the most cost-effective strategies to reduce carbon pollution.


That’s why Green Century started pressing some of the world’s largest companies to change their practices around agricultural commodities – palm oil and soybeans – that have been linked to deforestation. The result?

Click below to learn more about the issues, the challenges ahead, and how your investments can make a difference.


1. Why Deforestation Matters

For too long, it has been common practice to clear land for palm oil and soy. Clearing forests releases vast amounts of carbon dioxide and eliminates the natural carbon-trapping abilities of forests. Exacerbating the effect is the location of many of these forests, residing on carbon-rich peatland.

Deforestation is a leading driver of climate change, contributing as much as 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions annually – contending with those emitted by the entire global transportation sector. Deforestation also threatens endangered species, disrupts water cycles, and ignites land conflicts with local communities. Further, it has the potential to cannibalize output by posing risks to agricultural production through the direct contribution of shifting weather and rainfall patterns.

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2. How Investor Pressure Made a Difference on Palm Oil

Starting in 2012 with Starbucks,* and continuing with Kellogg’s* and ConAgra,* Green Century has successfully pressured many companies to adopt comprehensive zero-deforestation palm oil policies. One agreement, with the world’s largest palm oil trader alone, is expected to prevent 1.5 gigatons of carbon pollution between now and 2020.

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3. Engaging Companies and Suppliers

Through advocacy, Green Century has successfully worked with companies and their suppliers to limit deforestation caused by the cultivation and production of not only palm oil, but also soy, cattle, timber, and rubber. Green Century scored a major victory in 2015 when Archer Daniels Midland (ADM)* became the first company to adopt a zero-deforestation policy for the soy it sources. In 2016, Green Century followed this up by pressing Bunge* to include soybeans, palm oil, sugar and corn in its zero-deforestation policy.

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4. Ensuring Rigorous Standards

Sourcing commitments can work best when they are verified by an independent third party monitor: the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and Roundtable on Sustainable Soy were developed to serve this function for palm oil and soy, respectively. Green Century believes that simply being a RSPO member however is not sufficient on its own, as evolving industry standards created the need for updated guidelines. Green Century and Ceres, a non-profit organization advocating for sustainability leadership, mobilized investors with nearly $5 trillion in assets under management (AUM) to press the RSPO to raise its standards. The outcome? RSPO Next, an updated addendum that incorporates investors’ calls for stronger metrics. Corporate policy action has decidedly lagged reform, creating a need for Green Century to monitor members to ensure proper commitments are being established that exceed the certification.

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5. Advocating for Stronger Policy

To help ensure effective implementation of corporate forestry policies, Green Century believes that government policies must support these advancements and that legislators and policy makers must provide an environment conducive to sustainable development. As a result, Green Century supports government action that protects forests and actively challenges initiatives that seek to reverse successfully adopted commitments. In 2015, Green Century mobilized 60 investors with more than $2 trillion in AUM to support Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s implementation of a forest moratorium, which will prohibit the issuing of new licenses to establish palm oil plantations. The call for action was met in 2016 when the Indonesian government formalized the moratorium by issuing a presidential instruction, announcing that the moratorium will remain in effect for five years.

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Most recent tropical deforestation and forest degradation have been driven by demand for, and the production of, just a handful of commodities. Changing how these commodities are grown can curb climate change, preserve habitats and protect human rights.

The majority of agricultural trade is controlled by four commodities traders that are heavily influenced by their buyers. That’s why Green Century has pressed these buyers, such as Kellogg’s, Starbucks, and Dunkin’ Donuts* to adopt zero-deforestation agreements in their supply chains.

+ Visit our Resources Page to learn about deforestation

Read about Green Century’s lead shareholder advocate on forest protection work, Kate Kroll, and her report back on her trip to Southeast Asia to meet with representatives from the Indonesian government, the biggest palm oil suppliers that are moving towards sustainable practices and seeing their plantations, and to present at the UN PRI conference in Singapore.

Continue to our blog series Updates from the Field:

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Pushing companies to be more environmentally responsible is a key way that Green Century helps investors make a difference.

To learn how Green Century protects the environment and public health, please see our Impact Investing page. Green Century Capital Management is the only U.S. mutual fund company founded and owned by environmental non-profits.

Like our forest protection campaign? Sign up for our     e-newsletter to receive updates on our complete program of impact investing work.


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