Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever and Co-Chair of the Consumer Goods Forum

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever & Co-Chair of the Consumer Goods Forum

As global deforestation continues, the world loses an acre of rainforest per second. Deforestation seriously threatens the natural resources necessary to the survival of our planet, and contributes to an estimated 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. With the projected rise in the world’s population, and the growth of developing country economies, demands for food, feed, fiber and fuel will reach new extremes, and will further increase threats to critical standing forests.

For our Rio+20 high-level event, AD Partners showcased important pathways to slow, halt and reverse deforestation in the context of sustainable development. We highlighted recent commitments made by major corporate leaders to require their agricultural supply chains to be both sustainable AND free of deforestation before the end of this decade. These pledges will create a robust market demand for those farmers who commit to sustainable, efficient agricultural development that does not depend on deforestation.

But for this deforestation-free, sustainable agricultural transformation to succeed, new alliances must be created. We need public-private partnerships that engage the creativity and capital of the private sector. We need the political will of governments. We need the knowledge and experience of civil society and local communities – and we need resources to help with the on-the-ground shift to sustainable farming practices.

The June 21, 2012, AD Partners Rio+20 event focused on current and future efforts of companies, governments and civil society to develop a robust marketplace for products that come from deforestation-free, sustainable agricultural practices. The highlight of the event was the announcement of a major partnership between the U.S. Government and the CEO’s of the Consumer Goods Forum. We consider this an important step toward the transition to agricultural practices that improve commodity production while mitigating climate change, enhancing global security, maintaining our planet’s biodiversity and reducing worldwide poverty.

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