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OXFORD: A new index by UK think-tank Global Canopy Programme (GCP) says a group of 500 financial institutions, governments and companies have the power to end deforestation in global commodity supply chains by 2020.

Drawing on over 40,000 data points from public and private sources, GCP has ranked 250 companies - with total annual revenues of US$4.5 trillion - plus 150 investors, lenders and "other influencers". It claims the group controls the supply chains of key forest risk commodities including soya, palm oil, beef, leather, timber, pulp and paper that have an annual trade value of more than US$100 billion and are found in over 50 percent of packaged products in supermarkets.

However it says only seven of its 'Forest 500' scored the maximum number of points - Groupe Danone (France), Kao Corp. (Japan), Nestle (Switzerland), Procter & Gamble (U.S.) and Reckitt Benckiser Group, Unilever and HSBC (UK). GCP adds that "numerous investors" plus 30 companies based mainly in Asia and the Middle East scored zero on its index.

the deux vachesGroupe Danone nature director Vincent Crasnier commented: "This is the first time that the performance of the key players is independently monitored and we hope that this encourages everyone to improve. At Danone we are committed to making the transition to sustainable agriculture and eliminate deforestation from our supply chain by 2020 at the latest. Eliminating deforestation can only be achieved through collective actions in collaboration with our farmers, suppliers and the whole supply-chain. This is our approach for example on soy or paper."

GCP says deforestation and land use change cause more than 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, undermine regional water security and threaten the lives of more than one billion people.

"We are currently all part of a global deforestation economy. Deforestation is in our chocolate and our toothpaste, our animal feed and our textbooks, our buildings and our furniture, our investments and our pensions. Our goal with the Forest 500 is to provide precise and actionable information to measure the progress of society to achieve zero deforestation," explained Mario Rautner, GCP Deforestation programme manager.

A pledge to achieve net zero deforestation by 2020 has already been made by the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a global association of major manufacturers and retailers. GCP says scores by CGF members on its index were 80 percent higher compared to companies not part of the association.

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