Nearly one year after the launch of The Consumer Goods Forum’s Forest Positive Coalition of Action, we can look back on several accomplishments with pride — from transparency reporting to stakeholder engagement, our members have been working incredibly hard to advance our Theory of Change, Commodity Roadmaps and Coalition-wide Actions.
None of our efforts would be successful, however, without the strong sense of community we are building within our Coalition. With shared goals, values and objectives, acting as part of a collective can be a huge lever for change. The CGF’s new Coalitions of Action allow retailers and manufacturers who are ready to take bold, accelerated action on their sustainability objectives to come together in a ground-breaking form, together using their collective voices for good. Though we are all competitors, we understand the importance of acting quickly and at scale for the planet and people — and the Coalitions help us do so, all the while respecting important yet complex antitrust laws.
Compared to the CGF’s previous approach to tackling commodity-driven deforestation, we find ourselves creating strategies for groundbreaking and ambitious collective action, which we can then support with actions from our own individual companies. As a result, our strength as a Coalition comes from the strength of our members, and it is interesting to reflect on what collaboration has actually meant in practice during our Coalition’s first year of action.
In our work around palm oil, we’ve seen from our efforts to build our Roadmap, engage monitoring and response platforms, consult with stakeholders, and align ourselves as Coalition members, that successful collective action is built on three principles: communication, connection, and empathy.
The Coalition challenges us to become better communicators by requiring us to express, both to ourselves, our Coalition peers and our internal colleagues, the findings, questions and concerns we may have about deforestation and how we can actually make a valuable impact. These conversations help bring our awareness of deforestation issues to a whole new level, as we are often asked to work with new ideas, clarify difficult concepts, and hear different viewpoints than our own.
We can therefore build connection by understanding that this experience is one of shared learning; all of the Coalition members are at different stages of their forest positive journeys, and there are lessons to be learned from everyone’s successes and challenges. Driving alignment between these different stages can be a difficult task, but finding connection within each other’s different approaches often allows us to take bigger, bolder steps towards a forest positive palm oil sector.
Finally, by internalising this knowledge that we are all learning and, for many of us, working on strategies that are new to our individual companies’ deforestation policies, we come to realise that this is a Coalition of companies that are, at their core, founded on the passion and efforts of sustainability leaders, procurement professionals, and engagement experts. Working face-to-face (virtually thus far!) with each other and our stakeholders is a humbling experience illustrating how not only our individual companies have the power to drive positive change, but we as individuals working within these companies have that power as well.
We believe that our Coalition is only as strong as every member — and we grow even stronger when we support and help each other. Collective action and community are at the core of our work around palm oil, but also at the heart of our Coalition’s goal, for we know forest positive outcomes have to be people positive as well. We’re proud of our Coalition’s ambitions around collaboration and the progress we’ve made so far — and we believe that with our Coalition of the Ambitious, we can continue to take that progress even further.