Late on 5 December 2022, EU decision-makers have concluded their negotiations for an EU deforestation Regulation which is the first in the world that takes significant steps to tackle global deforestation. We celebrate this historic agreement. Ambitious accompanying measures and partnerships are, however, essential to make a true transition on the ground.
The Regulation sets mandatory due diligence rules for all operators and traders who place, make available or export commodities into the EU market, including palm oil, beef, timber, coffee, cocoa, rubber and soy. Companies must produce a due diligence statement showing that their supply chains are not contributing to the destruction of forests, before they can place their products on the EU market.
An important additional step is made as the Regulation foresees to give impetus to the protection of forests around the world and inspire other countries to do so as well. At the same time, there are further opportunities to raise the Law’s ambition; by extending its scope to other commodities, ecosystems beyond forests and to the financial sector.
A missed opportunity is the lack of recognition for the need of inclusive implementation of the Regulation in smallholder-intensive sectors, as prerequisite for a future-proof and fair regulatory framework that can effectively reduce global deforestation. Another missed opportunity is the lack of clear recognition of human rights, particularly of indigenous peoples and local communities.
With the entry into force of the Regulation on the horizon, it becomes now even more important that the Regulation can be practically implemented and that this leads to a true transition on the ground. This also means that the realities and needs of smallholders and forest communities must be considered.
Now comes the real effort to build a smart mix of measures. Partnerships with producing countries are an essential component when implementing the Regulation, for it to become truly impactful on the ground. Accompanying landscape-wide measures are needed to tackle underlying drivers of deforestation that cause deforestation and obstruct a transition towards sustainable land use. Support measures and positive incentives are needed to support smallholders and forest communities to transition to sustainable production.
Tropenbos International will continue to support local communities and other landscape actors in their transition to promote sustainable use of forests and trees in climate-smart landscapes in the tropics in support of inclusive sustainable development.
Jinke van Dam (firstname.lastname@example.org)