Potentially good news for orang-utans - Unilever announced this morning that they're now supporting our calls for a moratorium to protect Indonesia's rainforests from destruction at the hands of the expanding palm oil industry.
When we sent in our own 'orang-utans' to Unilever HQ last week to tell them that they needed to do more to stop rainforest and peatlands being cleared to make way for palm oil plantations, company executives told us that they wouldn't be forced into a quick decision on the matter.
But today they have started to change their tune, as chief executive Patrick Cesau made a speech supporting a moratorium, and promising that all Unilever's palm oil would be sustainable by 2015. His decison followed the release of our latest report: How Unilever Palm Oil Suppliers Are Burning Up Borneo, which details how its suppliers are actively involved in rainforest destruction, pushing species like the endangered orang-utans to the brink of extinction and speeding up climate change. And, of course, all the photographs and emails you all sent to him parodying Dove's 'Campaign for real beauty' marketing campaign. Check out the latest additions at Stop Dove destroying rainforests, and keep sending in contributions - this campaign is not over yet. And if you've not already seen it, watch our Dove Onslaugh(ter) video, which has racked up 254,000 YouTube views in just over a week.
As one of the world's biggest users of palm oil in its Dove soap and
Persil products, Unilever has a huge influence on how suppliers operate. It is essential that the company pushes for a moratorium, as Greenpeace UK director John Sauven pointed out this morning, "Unilever's commitment to sourcing sustainable palm oil will be meaningless unless its suppliers stop trashing Indonesia’s rainforests - this is why the moratorium is so important. Every day that Unilever keeps buying palm oil from these suppliers, orang-utans are pushed closer to extinction."
If Unilever is serious about halting rainforest destruction in Indonesia, it needs to use its position as Chair of Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to encourage other member companies to follow suit. Unilever has held this infuential position for the past six years - yet during that period not a single drop of
sustainable palm oil has actually been produced. This situation urgently needs to
be rectified, and until they start to exert real pressure on the ground, we'll be keeping up the pressure.