The world’s forests are at risk, and commodity production and shifting agriculture are some of the most significant drivers of tropical deforestation. In order to reverse this trend, it is crucial that companies and governments take responsibility for transforming supply chains in the fight to end ecosystem conversion.
Thankfully, the European Union has been taking important steps on its journey to take responsibility for the deforestation, ecosystem conversion, and degradation resulting from EU consumption and trade. In 2019, they published a comprehensive action plan to address the issue, setting out a number of priorities for their work in the coming years.
One of the outcomes of this action plan has been the establishment of a Multi-Stakeholder Platform on Protecting and Restoring the World’s Forests. In this space a variety of actors—the Commission, member states, civil society organizations, research institutions, and industry representatives—come together to learn from one another and to advise the Commission on deforestation and forest degradation related issues.
This kind of cooperation that brings together a variety of organizations and of perspectives is precisely what we need in order to support the development of impactful and coherent measures that can transform supply chains and stop conversion. For this reason, Rainforest Alliance is an active member of this platform, where we bring a unique perspective, as a global organization with a history of over 30 years working to halt agriculture-driven deforestation.
After our participation in the latest meeting of this platform, held on February 25th, we submitted to the European Commission some feedback concerning the latest developments of the legislative proposal they are working on. In it, among other comments, we:
- Reiterate our support for an increased due diligence requirement for companies sourcing deforestation-related commodities.
- Ask the Commission to widen the scope of the law as to:
- Include requirements to address the conversion of all natural ecosystems, not only natural forests.
- Include provisions social and human rights impacts of business operations, rather than focusing only on environmental impact.
- Reiterate the importance of keeping in mind the specific needs and restraints of smallholder producers, who play a critical role in commodity production. In the face or risk, companies should be encouraged to engage with small holders and seek improvement, rather than exclude them.
- Call for more active engagement between the EU and civil society actors from the commodity-producing countries, including indigenous peoples and local communities’ representatives.
- Ask the Commission to give more detail on their plan to engage and support partner countries in complying with new regulations, incentivizing a “smart mix” of mandatory, voluntary and financial measures.
We continue to follow these developments with keen interest and hope that together we can take a step closer to ending deforestation.