Mondelez, Mars and Nestle back Consumer Goods Forum projects tackling forced labour and deforestation
Major confectionery groups including Mondelez, Mars and Nestle, as part of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), have backed the organisation’s first ever Forest Positive Coalition of Action report, writes Neill Barston.
The worldwide group, which is made up of 400 retailers, manufacturers and service providers aims to fulfil a core mission of encouraging major enterprises to adopt practices and standards that meet sustainability goals within industry.
Its debut report, “Taking Root: Embarking on the Forest Positive Journey,” offers a comprehensive illustration of the Coalition’s strategy to lead cross-sector efforts in ending commodity-driven deforestation. It outlines the coalition’s collective approach to driving full-sector transformation in the production and supply of four key commodities — palm oil, soy, paper, pulp and fibre-based packaging, and beef — by engaging with suppliers, traders, governments, and civil society stakeholders, and investing in key production landscapes.
Grant F. Reid, Chairman and CEO, Mars, Incorporated, said: “This publication gives a first comprehensive look at our ambitions and progress, covering performance on the ground, our procurement behaviours, and how we are allocating resources in our supply chains. We’ll seek to continue to build on this first effort, and appreciate feedback from our members and our stakeholders as we continue to drive change towards a forest positive future.”
Human rights progress
The initiative follows its Forced Labour-focused Human Rights Due Diligence in Own Operations Maturity Journey Framework, which was unveiled earlier this month, addressing the equally urgent issue of agricultural workers rights – which has received backing from its confectionery-based members including Mars, Mondelez and Nestle.
As the coalition explained, its system maps out how the 22 companies of the HRC – all CGF members – will implement and improve human rights due diligence (HRDD) systems in their own operations to root out and remedy actual and potential risks for forced labour.
Didier Bergeret, Director, Sustainability, The Consumer Goods Forum, said: “The fact that Coalition members are focusing on their own operations is a major victory for transparency and accountability efforts in the fight against forced labour. More of both are needed across the board in order to effectively identify and address the systemic drivers of the forced labour challenge. I congratulate the Coalition members on this critical effort.”
The 22 members joining today’s announcement are: APP Sinar Mas, Danone, Essity, Ferrero, Heineken, L’Oréal, Mars, Inc., Marks and Spencer, McCormick & Co., METRO AG, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, PepsiCo, RB, Sainsbury’s, Starbucks, Tesco, The Coca-Cola Company, The J.M. Smucker Company, The Kellogg Company, Unilever, and Walmart.
Launched on Human Rights Day in December 2020, the CEO-led HRC was founded to accelerate and align CGF members’ actions to eradicate forced labour after five progressive years of CGF efforts on the issue.
The HRC selected HRDD systems as a strategic focus of its work, committing in its Charter for members to deploy HRDD systems in their own operations with the aim of reaching 100 percent coverage by 2025, because of the valuable role these systems play in closing the data gap around the true scale of forced labour risks.
HRDD systems consist of the processes that aid businesses become aware of actual and potential human rights impacts associated with their operations, enabling them to prioritise and manage the areas of greatest risk and leverage. Doing so will allow them to have more visibility of and work on the interconnected human rights issues and risks, particularly those that relate to forced labour.
The HRC developed its HRDD Maturity Journey Framework through extensive knowledge-sharing from members and consultation with stakeholders across civil society, international organisations, and governments. The Framework is also founded on ensuring the CGF’s Priority Industry Principles are respected and implemented. These Principles, launched in 2016 and aligned with several international frameworks including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and International Labour Organization (ILO) Forced Labour Indicators, identify the three most problematic, yet often common, employment practices which can lead to cases of forced labour.
They are: Every Worker should have freedom of movement – No Worker should pay for a job – No Worker should be indebted or coerced to work.
The launch of the Framework is also a critical step in the development of the Coalition’s Palm Oil Roadmap, which outlines how Coalition members will work with select palm oil suppliers to implement HRDD systems and address forced labour risks specific to the sector. This Roadmap will be launched later this year.