In 2018, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) established the Soft Commodities Forum (SCF) to enable member companies to collaboratively identify effective solutions to common sustainability challenges, bridging global goals with local realities.
Like WBCSD, SCF members realize the complexity of soy supply chains and that no single business can tackle the challenges of deforestation and savannah conversion alone.
Collaboration between member companies helps move the entire sector forward, establishing and applying common performance indicators and engagement processes to end deforestation and native vegetation conversion driven by soy crop expansion.
Transparency is essential to tracing soybeans back to the farms where they grew, which is a significant challenge worldwide – especially in Brazil’s Cerrado region. We publicly report on progress in these terms twice a year – in June and December. This report marks the second time that our member companies are disclosing their performance monitoring soy volumes verified to be deforestation- and conversion-free in the Cerrado region. In this December 2022 report, we disclose details of the launch of our strategy to transform the Cerrado landscape – the Farmer First Clusters (FFC) initiative.
Consider the following facts:
- While it has never received the same attention as its neighbor – the Amazon – the Brazilian Cerrado, known as the “Birthplace of the Waters“, is one of the world’s most biodiverse savannahs. It is home to 5% of the planet’s animal and plant biodiversity, including more than 1,600 species of mammals, birds and reptiles. There are also more than 10,000 species of plants, nearly half of which are not found anywhere else in the world, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
- Between 2014 and 2021, farmers cleared 880,000 hectares (or 2,174,000 acres) in the Cerrado for soy plantations, representing 13.2% of total Cerrado conversion during that period, according to an Agrosatélite study. According to the same study, 61.5% of total conversion in the biome happened within the SCF scope – in the 61 focus municipalities – during the same period. It is important to note that soy production in cleared areas during the same period represents 4% of the total soy in the Cerrado. Nevertheless, the overall trend in soy-driven conversion is decreasing within our scope, as seen in Figure 1.
- According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Climate Change and Land, global agriculture, forestry and other land uses contribute to approximately 23% of greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans.
Figure 1. Soy-driven conversion is decreasing within our scope. Total conversion by year for any purpose in the 61 SCF focus municipalities in gray; areas converted to soy production in the 61 SCF focus municipalities in orange Source: Agrosatélite.
Companies that buy, sell and process soft commodities such as soybeans play a unique role in connecting soy suppliers with wholesale processors and retail customers around the world. They have an opportunity to help drive progress on the elimination of soy-driven deforestation and conversion.
The SCF’s six current members – ADM, Bunge, Cargill, COFCO International, Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) and Viterra – are among the world’s largest soy exporters and are committed to the elimination of deforestation in their supply chains where they operate in the Cerrado. They have pledged to make their soy supply chains free from deforestation and native vegetation conversion (NVC), balancing economic, social and environmental priorities.
Hosted by WBCSD, the SCF contributes to our food and agriculture pathway agenda by focusing on promoting the nature-, climate- and farmer-positive production of soy, contributing to food system transformation and our Vision 2050 strategy.
The SCF management team eases dialogue and the pooling of resources and information. It promotes open dialogue with stakeholders in the soy value chain and the wider community.
Lessons learned from the Cerrado region in Brazil will be essential to scaling efforts to reach other crops and biomes globally.
SCF members sign on to the Agriculture Sector Roadmap to 1.5°C
All six SCF members have signed on to the Agriculture Sector Roadmap to 1.5°C, which outlines the collaborative efforts of 14 of the world’s largest agriculture trading and processing companies to accelerate the elimination of commodity-linked deforestation in their supply chains in line with a 1.5°C degree pathway.
The participation of all six SCF members in roadmap development and final commitments underscores SCF members’ shared goal of sectoral collaboration and transformation. The SCF is founded on a belief that a collaborative, pre-competitive approach is necessary to reach deforestation- and conversion-free soy supply chains in the SCF scope area – the Brazilian Cerrado.