When Nestlé first committed to no deforestation in 2010, it was the beginning of a major journey. There wasn’t an industry-wide definition of deforestation, there was limited visibility beyond direct suppliers and that made it difficult to assess deforestation risks.

Now, a decade later, we have progressed enormously: ingredients that are high-risk for deforestation are largely traceable. We developed a set of tools to assess and address deforestation risks within our supply chains and, as of the end of 2021, 97.2% of our forest-risk commodities were assessed as deforestation free. And importantly, we are deeply engaged with our suppliers to help them transform practices on the ground.

Collectively, this progress has brought us closer to deforestation-free supply chains. But it also opened our eyes to the challenges and opportunities to contribute to better forest conservation and restauration through holistic, collaborative, and forward-looking approaches. Through our Forest Positive strategy, we aim to source our ingredients from suppliers who actively work to conserve and restore forests; respect human rights, including Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLC); and promote sustainable livelihoods.

Here are three things we learned about how a company like Nestlé can implement Forest Positive strategies. 

  1. Leveraging a ‘toolkit’ approach

We believe that no single tool, be it a certification or satellite monitoring, can solve the challenge of deforestation, let alone achieve forest conservation and restauration. That’s why we’ve adopted a combination of tools. 

Since the beginning of our journey, we’ve worked closely with our external partners and suppliers to deploy teams on the ground to assess sites at risks. But eyes on the ground only provide information from a snapshot in time. With the addition of satellite monitoring, we became able to monitor forests in real time. With the right data, we can understand current and potential drivers of deforestation. Now, we are using the same satellite monitoring systems to not just react to deforestation events after they happen, but also to monitor where forests need protection.

2. Right collaboration, right time

Over the past ten years, we have engaged closely with our suppliers, setting shared goals and then worked together in the development of solutions or on-the-ground projects to get there. It’s this kind of relationship that accelerates our efforts from setting expectations, to aligning commitments, to ultimately co-investing in forward-looking approaches. Through our participation in The Consumer Goods Forum’s Forest Positive Coalition of Action, we hope to encourage more collaboration on the ground.

3. Broaden the lens to look to the future

We used to look at whether deforestation had happened in the past. Now we also look at the drivers of deforestation and potential trends and where standing forests need to be protected. These questions show us the way forward to collaborating holistically with governments, suppliers and industry peers, farmers, and communities on forest protection and restoration. This is why we aim to invest in 15 landscape initiatives by the end of 2023.

Ultimately, our work at Nestlé has taught us critical lessons over the past decade: to advance our Forest Positive strategy, we need to leverage tools that look across the entire landscape and work with partners on forward-looking actions. 

To set the way forward for the future, we must embrace complexity – not fear it. Engaging with every dimension of a complex environment is what will help us accelerate a transition to a regenerative food system.