A major reduction in global deforestation is needed to mitigate climate change and biodiversity loss. Recent private sector commitments aim to eliminate deforestation from a company’s operations or supply chain, but they fall short on several fronts. Company pledges vary in the degree to which they include time-bound interventions with clear definitions and criteria to achieve verifiable outcomes. Zero-deforestation policies by companies may be insufficient to achieve broader impact on their own due to leakage, lack of transparency and traceability, selective adoption and smallholder marginalization. Public–private policy mixes are needed to increase the effectiveness of supply-chain initiatives that aim to reduce deforestation. We review current supply-chain initiatives, their effectiveness, and the challenges they face, and go on to identify knowledge gaps for complementary public–private policies.

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This research was funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Grant GBMF 426.

Author information


  1. School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA

    • Eric F. Lambin
  2. Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA

    • Eric F. Lambin
  3. Georges Lemaître Earth and Climate Research Centre, Earth and Life Institute, Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

    • Eric F. Lambin
  4. Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA

    • Holly K. Gibbs
  5. Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE), Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA

    • Holly K. Gibbs
    •  & Lisa L. Rausch
  6. Environmental Studies Program, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, USA

    • Robert Heilmayr
  7. Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, University of Hawai’i, Honolulu, HI, USA

    • Kimberly M. Carlson
  8. Environmental Conservation Program, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Palo Alto, CA, USA

    • Leonardo C. Fleck
  9. Department of Earth and Environment, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA

    • Rachael D. Garrett
    •  & Christoph Nolte
  10. Institute for the Study of International Development & Department of Geography, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

    • Yann le Polain de Waroux
  11. Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

    • Constance L. McDermott
  12. World Wildlife Fund, Washington, DC, USA

    • David McLaughlin
  13. Environmental Studies Program, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA

    • Peter Newton
  14. Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor Barat, Indonesia

    • Pablo Pacheco
  15. Climate Focus, Washington, DC, USA

    • Charlotte Streck
  16. Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA

    • Tannis Thorlakson
  17. National Wildlife Federation, National Advocacy Center, Washington, DC, USA

    • Nathalie F. Walker


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E.F.L. and H.K.G. conceived and chaired the workshop that led to this paper. E.F.L., H.K.G. and R.H. led the paper writing. R.H., K.M.C., L.C.F., R.D.G., Y.l.P.d.W., C.L.McD., D.McL., P.N., C.N., P.P., L.L.R., C.S., T.T. and N.F.W. actively participated at the workshop and contributed to writing the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Eric F. Lambin.

Supplementary information

  1. Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Methods and Supplementary Table 1.