Thursday 30 june 2022
Last Tuesday, June 28th, the European Council adopted a general approach for a new Regulation to minimise the risk of deforestation and forest degradation associated with products placed on the EU market. These products will be required to be produced according to the law in the country of origin, and be deforestation free. Among the commodities covered are soy and palm oil. IUCN NL is actively involved in efforts to improve governance of these commodities and welcomes the proposal.
Header photo: Logging in forest (c) Dan Smedly via Unsplash
Include other ecosystems
The law aims to limit the consumption of products contributing to deforestation or forest degradation. It can be an important step if encroachment of other ecosystems than forests is also prevented in the coming years. For example, for soy, the savannahs and natural grasslands in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and the United States are a key frontier for conservation. Such areas should be part of the scope as soon as possible.
Steer on conservation impact
Heleen van den Hombergh, senior advisor agrocommodity governance at IUCN NL: ‘It should also be taken into account that the EU is only about 10 % of the global market in both soy and palm oil. To have impact on the ground it is very important that a comprehensive EU strategic framework on partnerships is developed with producing countries, as the Council advises. These partnerships should really steer on conservation impact and not just on cleaning the EU’s value chains.’ This includes -also financially- supporting and incentivizing landscape conservation measures by farmers. Van den Hombergh: ‘Working together with Asian markets to green their full value chains and support conservation measures is key. We will not be able to sufficiently meet biodiversity and climate targets if risk landscapes with important ecosystems are avoided and left in the hands of markets that have no or little sustainability requirements.’
Make it practical
Finally, while the responsibility for compliance lies with the traders and operators, they can make use of trustworthy information and verification tools such as robust sustainability standards that also take into account human, land and labor rights, as well as responsible agricultural practices such as pesticide handling, soil and water management. This way such tools can serve both the due diligence requirements of this law and the upcoming Sustainable Corporate Governance Directive, as well as other important EU initiatives steering towards just and sustainable trade and land use.
Achieving conversion free responsible soy and palm oil requires the combination of the best in class mandatory and voluntary tools. IUCN NL gladly supports this effort as knowledge broker and advisor for conservation impact.