At a high-level event in November organized by WWF, Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for the Environment, declared for the first time that the Commission will consider developing an EU action plan to halt deforestation.
He said the Commission was “reviewing the wider FLEGT Action Plan, and considering a deforestation action plan. Illegal timber is a scourge, but isn’t the only cause of deforestation. Over the coming months, we will be looking more closely at other policies that might be effective against deforestation.”
The same message was repeated by Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström on 7 December at a conference in Amsterdam on sustainable supply chains, hosted by the incoming Dutch Presidency.
Member States are also making the case: At a COP 21 side-event, the UK announced its support for the Commission’s decision to launch a feasibility study into an EU action plan, its commitment to work with the Commission on it, and its hope that it will be robust, well-resourced and involve wide consultation with stakeholders.
Days later, five Member States (UK, Netherlands, Germany, France and Denmark) signed the Amsterdam Declaration “towards eliminating deforestation from agricultural commodities chains with European countries” supporting, amongst other things, 100 per cent sustainable palm oil. They also committed themselves again to eliminating deforestation from their supply chains.
The EU is one of the largest drivers of deforestation in the world through its consumption of agricultural commodities such as soy, beef, palm oil, sugar or cocoa. Addressing its role in deforestation by reforming policies that deal with consumption, trade and investment, bioenergy and aid is essential. A process developing a deforestation action plan would be a positive first step.