Ending Tropical Deforestation: Mining Global Financial Data to Increase Transparency and Reduce Drivers of Deforestation

June 2018

By Peter Graham, Gabriel Thoumi, Erika Drazen, and Frances Seymour

The climate and forest community has not yet harnessed the full power of the information age to create transparency in the global commodities markets. There exists a wealth of global financial data that can reveal the financial drivers of deforestation. Using the power of big data, forest champions—including indigenous peoples, business leaders, investors, policymakers, and law enforcement—can be empowered to find and draw attention to illegality and wrongdoing in commodities markets and supply chains.

Additionally, companies can proactively use this information to reduce the material risk associated with deforestation and illegality in supply chains. Radical transparency techniques, in addition to illustrating overlaps in ownership structures and detecting instances of intentional overvaluation of assets, have been proven effective in holding companies to account for illegal or unethical activities and for violating zero-deforestation commitments. However, their full potential has yet to be unleashed.