BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — The European Commission adopted a new deforestation policy, Stepping up E.U. Action Protect and Restore the World’s  Forests. It was officially adopted on July 23 and sets out new framework of actions to protect and restore the world's forests, which according to the Commission hosts 80% of biodiversity on land, support the livelihoods of around a quarter of the world's population, and are vital to our efforts to fight climate change.

The commission received support from European grain, oilseeds and feed organizations on the new policy.

“Traders of agri-commodities, who transport grains and oilseeds around the globe on a daily basis, are conscious of the importance and the need to limit the environmental impact of their activities throughout the supply chain,” COCERAL said. “They strive to ensure the delivery of safe food, feedstuffs, oils and fats complying with regulatory requirements, while at the same time supporting sustainable agricultural practices, including with regard to the risks related to deforestation. In this context, we are looking forward to participate in the Commission’s initiative aiming at protecting and restoring the world’s forests.”

The policy introduces measures for enhanced international cooperation with stakeholders and member states, promotion of sustainable finance, better use of land and resources, sustainable job creation and supply chain management, and targeted research and data collection. It also launches an assessment of possible new regulatory measures to minimize the impact of E.U. consumption on deforestation and forest degradation.

“Forests are the green lungs of our planet, and we must care for them in the same way we care for our own lungs,” said Frans Timmermans, first vice-president responsible for sustainable development. “We will not meet our climate targets without protecting the world's forests. The E.U. does not host the world's major primary forests on its territory, but our actions as individuals and our policy choices have a major impact. Today we send an important signal to our citizens and to our partners around the world that the EU is prepared to play a leadership role in this area in the next five years, and beyond.”

The Commission set out five priorities to protect the health of existing forests and increasing sustainability:

  • Reduce the E.U. consumption footprint on land and encourage the consumption  of products from deforestation-free supply chains in the E.U.;
  • Work in partnership with producing countries to reduce pressures on forests and to “deforest-proof” E.U. development cooperation;
  • Strengthen international cooperation to halt deforestation and forest degradation, and encourage forest restoration;
  • Redirect finance to support more sustainable land-use practices;
  • Support the availability of, quality of, and access to information on forests and commodity supply chains, and support research and innovation.

“Addressing deforestation starts with the implementation of environmental legislation in the country of production,” FEDIOL said. “However, the lack of financial incentives to avoid legal conversion of forests into agricultural land is proving to be an important missing element. Multilateral dialogue is key to understand how to best support producer countries in their efforts to curb down illegal deforestation and the E.U. vegetable oil and protein meal industry is committed to share its experience and reinforce these activities.”

COCERAL, FEDIOL and FEFAC noted they already coordinate with their members in “origin and destination markets to  serve E.U. demand responsibly produced products,” including deforestation-free.

“With the publication of the FEFAC Soy Sourcing Guidelines in 2015, the European compound feed industry has shown its commitment to contribute to a positive impact through the soy supply chain,” FEFAC said. Over 160 European compound feed manufacturers have now given their voluntary commitment to the responsible sourcing of soy in accordance with the Soy Sourcing Guidelines in an effort to boost the development of a mainstream market of responsible soy use in Europe.”

Actions to reduce E.U. consumption and encourage the use of products from deforestation-free supply chains will be explored through the creation of a new multi-stakeholder platform on deforestation, forest degradation and forest generation, which will work to bring together a range of relevant stakeholders. The Commission said it will also encourage stronger certification schemes for deforestation-free products and assess possible demand-side legislative measures and other incentives.