Measuring the effectiveness of corporate zero deforestation commitments

Unilever  (U.K.)


Photo credit: Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace

Deforestation is a major contributor to climate change and loss of biodiversity. In response, many companies have committed to zero deforestation policies in their supply chains in order to mitigate the impacts of land-use change that result from the production of commodities. However, little is known about how these commitments could potentially play out on the global landscape if they were fully adopted and enforced. Such insights are needed to anticipate the potential environmental benefits of the ZDCs, which could support companies and policy makers to optimize to optimise landscape planning and to minimise environmental impacts.

The objective of this research is to measure the (potential) effectiveness of zero-deforestation using an integrated land-use modelling framework and to identify approaches to ascribe causality. The research will address the following questions:

  • Which forests could be protected by corporate commitments if they were fully adopted and enforced?

  • How could different sourcing strategies influence the effectiveness of zero-deforestation commitments?

  • To what extent may zero-deforestation commitments displace deforestation to areas falling beyond the scope of the commitments?

  • What could the overall impact of zero-deforestation be if they were fully adopted and enforced?


Floris Leijten

Unilever Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre, Unilever
Colworth Science Park, Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire MK44 1LQ, UK

“My research will provide new insights on how effective companies have been in reducing deforestation from their supply chains and how the future of our tropical rainforests may unfold, depending on different policy scenarios and different efforts made by the corporate world.”

Floris Leijten

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Publications …

Leijten, F., T.N.P. dos Reis, S. Sim, P.H. Verburg & P. Meyfroidt (2022). The influence of company sourcing patterns on the adoption and
effectiveness of zero-deforestation commitments in Brazil’s soy supply chainEnvironmental Science and Policy 128: 208-215,

Leijten, F., S. Sim, H. King & P.H. Verburg (2021). Local deforestation spillovers induced by forest moratoria: evidence from Indonesia. Land Use Policy.

Leijten, F., S. Sim, H. King & P.H. Verburg (2020). Which forests could be protected by corporate zero deforestation commitments? A spatial assessmentEnvironmental Research Letters 15:064021.