Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Unilever takes the lead to stop deforestation in Indonesia

Greenpeace 14th May 2008

Unilever takes the lead to stop deforestation in Indonesia

You may have noticed that we had a quick win in our campaign to stop deforestation from palm oil a couple weeks back. Unilever made an announcement that they would support a moratorium to protect Indonesia’s rainforest from destruction just ten days after the launch of our campaign.

During our research we discovered that Unilever is the biggest buyer of palm oil, and it is used in several of their products like Dove soap, Persil and Flora. So we started targeting Dove with a cheeky campaign subverting their campaign for real beauty with Orang-utans on billboards, on flyers, online banners and on the Unilever’s headquarters in London and their factory in Liverpool.

Meanwhile, our active supporters went out on the streets and took well over a thousand photos of people sending their messages to Dove - you can see all the photos here. And many more of you joined in, submitting your own photos to our Flickr group and writing to Dove.

The agreement with Unilever is now starting to take shape, but this is just the first step in our campaign to get a moratorium on forest destruction in South East Asia in place within what we hope will be months.

Last Friday our big wigs met with Unilever’s big wigs and we put some flesh on the bones of this commitment. Unilever is supporting our call for a moratorium on the ground but even through they are the biggest buyer they represent only 3 per cent of the palm oil purchasers and the moratorium will need a lot more support from other companies before we see real change on the ground in Indonesia.

Unilever have agreed to take up the challenge by leading the way and building a coalition of allies to support a moratorium and put pressure on their suppliers in Indonesia to agree to a moratorium on further destruction of rainforests for palm oil. This includes them lobbying all the major players in the industry like Kraft, Nestle, Proctor & Gamble and Cadburys. They also agreed to put substantial pressure on their suppliers in Indonesia to stop destroying rainforests.
This is a really big first step and we’re pretty chuffed, and while it won’t be as glamorous as the campaign for real rainforests, we now have a lot of work ahead to make sure that Unilever holds up their end of the agreement and together we get more companies on side and get a moratorium in place.

Over the coming months we will be meeting with companies and lobbying them to support the moratorium alongside Unilever. This coalition of influential players in the palm oil industry is key to getting a moratorium in place as soon as possible to stop deforestation and the release of greenhouse gases that fuel climate change.

And there is no time celebrate (ok, well we did just a little) - next week campaigners will be speaking at the World Palm Oil Summit in Jakarta to talk about the need for a moratorium with buyers and suppliers. And we will also be speaking at an investment seminar on palm oil in London in June with F&C Asset Management and McDonalds.

We will do our best to keep you posted, but because of the nature of many of these meetings we will have to keep a pretty closed lip. We will also let you know if we need your help again in the future to put pressure on any companies that may need a bit of an incentive to support the moratorium. In the meantime you can join Greenpeace to help our ongoing work.

Thank you for all your help and support so far, it has been an incredible response for the first step in this campaign to save Indonesia’s rainforests.