Gaps in adoption and implementation limit the current and potential effectiveness of zero-deforestation supply chain policies for soy

Related GLP Member: Florian Gollnow, Kimberly Carlson, Rachael Garrett


Tropical deforestation continues despite global efforts to curb forest loss. Corporate zero-deforestation supply chain commitments (ZDCs) have the potential to address this deforestation, especially if strong state-led forest governance is absent. Yet, because ZDC adoption is limited to particular locations and supply chains, these commitments may fall short at reducing regional deforestation and protecting biodiverse ecosystems. Here, we leverage timeseries of spatially explicit corporate commodity sourcing data and ZDCs to assess the current and potential effect of ZDCs within soybean supply chains on forest loss and biodiversity. We focus on the Brazilian Amazon, where the first ZDC (soy moratorium (SoyM)) was implemented, and the Cerrado, where companies have adopted but not implemented ZDCs. We found that in the Amazon, SoyM signatories that controlled the market caused a 57% reduction in direct deforestation for soy from 2006 to 2015. In the Cerrado, if companies had implemented their ZDCs with the same relative effectiveness as in the Amazon, deforestation for soy could have been reduced by 46%. Thus, ZDC implementation in the Cerrado via stringent monitoring and enforcement could contribute substantially to forest and habitat conservation. Yet, incomplete ZDC adoption leaves >50% of soy-suitable forests and the biodiversity that they harbor outside the reach of ZDCs. To protect these forests, it is vital to incentivize more companies—including smaller, less publicly exposed traders—to make and implement ZDCs, while also promoting forest governance through public policy.