Today, the European Commission published a roadmap announcing plans to “step up European Action against Deforestation and Forest Degradation”. The document foresees a new Communication in the second quarter of 2019 to “develop a more coherent and comprehensive approach to the problem”.
“Today, the EU’s international commitment to halt deforestation by 2020 is a step closer to becoming reality. The chorus of citizens, Member States and parliamentarians calling for action had grown so loud that the European Commission could no longer ignore it.” said Nicole Polsterer, sustainable consumption campaigner at Fern.
The roadmap includes a list of possible actions that will be considered in the upcoming Communication, including promoting “sustainable and transparent supply chains”, “enhancing the transparency of investment flows” or building effective partnerships with forested countries to “support the uptake of sustainable agricultural and forestry practices” and “improve land governance”.
The document proposes to address good governance of land rights, which is key to combat deforestation, only through non legislative measures.
“Future EU action on deforestation should not only be about promoting sustainable supply chains, it should also put a stop to imports of products grown on land stolen from communities. To meet its commitment to halt deforestation by 2020, the Commission must deliver new legislation guaranteeing that EU supply chains are free from deforestation and human rights violations” said Polsterer.
Nearly three-quarters of all tropical deforestation between 2000 and 2012 was caused by commercial agriculture. According to its own calculations, the European Union is the biggest per capita importer of agricultural commodities.
Despite 470 companies already making commitments to halve or eliminate deforestation from their supply chains, one football pitch of forest was lost every second in 2017, harming forest communities and emitting 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
France, Belgium, the European Parliament and NGOs have all called for regulatory measures. Some companies have also made similar calls, in recognition of the need to create a level playing field between sustainability leaders and laggards.
“In March, the Commission’s own feasibility study stated that new regulation would have the greatest impact on deforestation, but since then we’ve heard nothing. The EU has only a few months to uphold its commitment to halt deforestation by 2020. Action has to happen on M. Juncker’s watch,” said Hannah Mowat, Fern’s campaigns coordinator.