In 2019, a broad coalition of European NGOs campaigned for legally binding measures by the EU to curb deforestation linked to the production, consumption and import of agro-commodities (so-called “imported deforestation”). As a result, in January 2020 the European Parliament adopted a motion calling for robust regulatory measures.
The motion of the European Parliament (EP) was adopted thanks to the support of the four major parties in parliament, following the EP’s debate on the EU Green Deal. It calls on the European Commission (EC) to present, “without delay, a proposal for a European legal framework based on due diligence to ensure sustainable and deforestation-free supply chains for products placed on the EU market, with a particular focus on tackling the main drivers of imported deforestation.” This motion is seen as a milestone; for the first time there is a parliamentary majority in favour of regulation.
The European demand for agro-commodities such as soy, palm oil, beef, coffee and cocoa indirectly leads to large-scale deforestation. With a mix of intervention measures, unsustainable practices can be tackled and conditions can be created for the fair and sustainable production, trade and consumption of commodities.
The EC is working on an Action Plan to combat deforestation. The Commission’s Stepping up EU Action to Protect and Restore the World’s Forests (July 2019) sets the foundation for further action. For the first time there was a mention of exploring binding measures in addition to voluntary measures, although this was not a strong commitment.
TBI, in close collaboration with IUCN NL, facilitated a coalition of Dutch NGOs to halt deforestation, and worked together to develop joint statements on binding measures. The Dutch coalition was successful. By mid-September 2019, the Government of the Netherlands, in its response to the EC communication, supported the inclusion of binding measures.
Also working in close coalition with Fern in Brussels, TBI lobbied for binding measures to stop deforestation. Among other things, TBI published policy briefs, underlining the importance of a smart mix of voluntary and binding measures. TBI provided provided input into EU consultations, such as the policy brief (published jointly with IUCN NL), Key pointers for an ambitious EU action plan against deforestation.
TBI is particularly active in the policy debate on sustainable cocoa supply chains, both in producing countries (Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire), and in the Netherlands and at the EU level. In 2019, TBI and Tropenbos Ghana joined forces with Fern and EcoCare to publish a review on the lessons learned in the VPA FLEGT process for similar initiatives in the cocoa sector. These lessons are being taken seriously by officials in the EC and by Ghana officials: the EC is taking steps to launch a VPA Cocoa process for Ghana.
Published in the Annual Report 2019