Nestlé joins billion-dollar industry initiative tackling Southeast Asia deforestation

The Nestlé group has joined a major industry initiative in Southeast Asia targeting the protection and restoration of over 500,000 hectares of tropical forests playing a central role in palm oil production, reports Neill Barston

Known as the Rimba Collective, the Swiss founded food sector business joins what is thought to be the largest private sector scheme of its kind, developed by Lestari Capital, in collaboration with major players in the food and drink market.

Nestlé joins PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble and Wilmar in the $1 billion venture that aims to connect industry conservation, through financing outcomes on the ground through ethical and efficient mechanisms, to support the adaptation of more equitable market systems.c

According to its supporting policy documents, the Rimba Collective will have access to a 25 year funding stream, with the initial area of focus being placed on Indonesia, before moving across the region.

As the confectionery business noted, the collaborative scheme complements the palm oil industry’s efforts to end deforestation by funding conservation and restoration projects across the supply chain. It comes as the company recently release its shared value sustainability report.

The initiative aims at forest conservation investments that simultaneously support forest protection as well as economic development and job creation for local communities in the region, with nations including Malaysia and Thailand also being critical to the palm oil market.

“We know that addressing deforestation in our palm oil supply chain is not enough. For a lasting and meaningful impact, we are evolving from a no-deforestation strategy to a ‘forest-positive’ one,” said Benjamin Ware, Global Head of Sustainable Sourcing and Climate Delivery, Nestlé. “This means we will buy from suppliers who are actively conserving and restoring forests while promoting sustainable livelihoods and respecting human rights.”

“Our involvement in the Rimba Collective will enable us to speed up our proactive efforts to protect forests and peatlands as well as human rights. It is an important pillar to achieve our commitment to zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” he added.

The initiative will initially focus on projects in Indonesia before expanding to others across Southeast Asia. Projects are prioritised based on their potential to protect and restore large, continuous areas of natural ecosystems and critical habitats.

Other priorities include generating measurable ecosystem benefits (such as keeping more carbon in the ground, purifying water and improving soil health) and making livelihoods more resilient for local communities.  All projects will undergo third-party verification.

Michal Zrust, Co-Founder, Lestari Capital, said, “The mechanism has been developed jointly together with the Rimba Collective’s founding partners and is the first of its kind. By linking conservation funding directly with company operations, it has the potential to be a game changer for forest protection and restoration. It directly complements existing efforts by other groups to build more sustainable palm oil supply chains, and we are offering the opportunity for other major companies in agricultural commodity supply chains to participate.


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