Shoe Companies Take A Step Forward



After working with us over the past few weeks, Clarks have today announced that they will ensure the suppliers that provide the leather for their shoes from stop sourcing it from deforested areas of the Amazon.

This is a really positive move – they’re not only rejecting leather from illegally logged areas of the region, but from any cattle ranch that is being run on deforested land.

This means there’s a unified front from the shoe companies we challenged over Amazon leather in their supply chains. All have now committed to avoiding leather that is implicated in Amazon destruction. Clarks join Adidas, Nike, Timberland and Geox, who have all made similar commitments over the past few weeks.

This is great news from the point of view of halting Amazon deforestation, and even better, it should lead to longer-term reform of the cattle ranching sector in Brazil. The shoe companies are demanding stringent traceability standards from the big cattle companies, and it’s this kind of regulatory change which can set the conditions for more long-term shift in the way the Amazon is protected.

As our report, Slaughtering the Amazon, shows, cattle ranching to produce beef and leather is the biggest driver of deforestation in Brazil. Getting companies to put pressure on suppliers to change their ways and regulate their industries can really work in limiting rainforest destruction:

It’s worth noting that the moratorium that we were involved in pushing for several years ago on soya has just been extended for another year. In a similar story to the cattle work, our campaign pressured the major soya traders operating in Brazil to announce a two-year moratorium. This dramatically decreased the trade in soya grown on newly deforested land in the Amazon.

The announcement of the extension of the soya moratorium was attended by the Brazilian environment minister Carlos Minc and the Soya Working Group. It’s also been welcomed by the European companies that supported its establishment so that they could guarantee soya linked to Amazon destruction did not end up in their products. The story of the soya moratorium shows how a sector can shift to take into account the environmental impact of their business. With leadership from the shoe companies we’re seeing the same process happening with leather.

What next? Well, we still want UK supermarkets to make similar commitments on the beef products they supply. So there’s still work to do. But this is a big step forward for the shoe industry, and a key victory in delivering the kind of long-term regulation that can help meet our goal of zero deforestation in the Amazon, and around the world.