In the early hours of 6 December, more than eight years of intense campaigning, political manoeuvring, and behind-the-scenes lobbying culminated in a landmark EU law to tackle global deforestation: the Regulation on deforestation-free products (EUDR).
It aims to prevent companies from selling palm oil, soy, beef, rubber, coffee and other commodities linked to deforestation on the EU market. Companies will need to produce due diligence statements proving their supply chains aren’t contributing to deforestation.
This is an historic first.
But what will it mean in the countries of production?
How will the EUDR impact smallholders who barely earn enough to survive? The Indigenous Peoples who are forests’ greatest protectors? Civil society organisations, who have been on the frontline of fighting deforestation?
And how will it impact the Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) timber trade deals which the EU has signed with many forested countries and which have given civil society a crucial foothold in influencing their nations’ forest laws and policies?
Recent Forest Governance newsletters have given space to our partners from West Africa, the Congo Basin and Brazil to voice their hopes and concerns about the EUDR, and here we continue the trend, featuring articles from Vu Thi Bich Hop, from the Center for Sustainable Rural Development in Vietnam, and Abil Achmad Akbar and Sri Palupi, respectively from Kaoem Telepak and The Institute for Ecosoc Rights, in Indonesia.
While Vietnam and Indonesia face different challenges in protecting their remaining forests, the authors raise strikingly similar concerns over the Regulation’s impact on smallholders, over its unilateral development, and over the impact it will have on their countries’ VPAs with the EU.
There is hope that some of these concerns might be assuaged by the EUDR’s promise that the "[European] Commission shall develop a comprehensive strategy for working with third countries.”
While our partners continue to flag issues with the Regulation, one thing is crystal clear: they all want it to work and they all support its aims.