In December 2018, the European Commission announced plans to “step up European Action against Deforestation and Forest Degradation”. A new Commission Communication is foreseen in the second quarter of 2019 to “develop a more coherent and comprehensive approach to the problem”.
In order to inform the drafting of this Communication, a consultation was carried in January and February 2019. Please click here to read Fern’s submission to the consultation.
Fern calls for an EU Action Plan to Protect Forests and Respect Rights that includes a regulation to control the import and financing of and investment in agricultural commodities cultivated on forest land converted in violation of community tenure rights or other human rights abuses.
In addition, the EU should take the following actions:
- Ensure trade doesn’t lead to more deforestation
The EU’s trade, finance and investment policies can have a big impact on forests in highly-forested countries.
To ensure coherence between EU trade policy and EU commitments to halt deforestation, mitigate climate change and respect human rights, the EU must ensure that the Free Trade Agreements it is currently negotiating with highly forested countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and the Mercosur bloc) - include provisions and enforcement mechanisms to ensure that increased trade does not increase deforestation and human rights violations.
- Support producer countries to improve legal enforcement & governance
The EU should use its significant market power as a lever to support governance reform processes in producer countries that link progress with greater EU market access.
The EU should support producer country processes to clarify and improve national laws affecting forests and land rights in the agricultural sector. These discussions should be part of a multi-stakeholder in order to identify gaps in legal enforcement as well as where existing national laws need to be improved to bring them in line with international environmental and human rights standards.
- Make the Common Agricultural Policy a genuine food and farm policy
The EU should promote locally-sourced, vegetable-based diets and make agricultural support conditional on farmers using legally and ecologically sourced feedstocks, reducing nitrogen surplus, increasing animal health and using resources efficiently.
- Better implement the EU Timber Regulation and the Voluntary Partnership Agreements
As one of the largest consumers of timber, the EU took the lead in global efforts to address illegal logging and its associated trade by launching the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan in 2003.
However, progress has been uneven across countries, and patchy implementation of the EU Timber Regulation creates loopholes for illegal logging. Accelerating and sustaining reforms requires genuine political commitment, increased community participation, and efforts to address core governance issues such as corruption, impunity and tenure rights. It is also important to ensure adequate EU Timber Regulation enforcement across the EU, including stronger checks, and appropriate follow up action.
- The EU must hold EU finance and investment accountable
The EU must impose social, environmental and governance standards on EU banks and DFIs. The EU finance and investment sector should be held to the same strict standards as importers of forest risk commodities.
- Remove subsidies for bioenergy that harm forests and the climate
The EU must recognise that biomass is a finite resource. It must end subsidies for burning woody biomass that is directly harvested from forests and restrict the amount of biomass that EU Member States can use towards their renewable energy targets to levels that can be sustainably supplied.