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Strengthening the EU regulation on deforestation-free products

News / 21 Mar 2022

Strong and effective legislation is essential if the world is to meet COP26 commitments to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030. Trase – our partnership project with the Stockholm Environment Institute – has published a new policy briefing highlighting how the EU can strengthen the implementation of its proposed new regulation.

The EU plan looks to ban the importation of agricultural commodities such as soy, beef and palm oil produced on land deforested after 2020. At the moment the proposal requires businesses to collect plot-level geo-locations for all imports regardless of risk level. Trase recommends that action be targeted on higher risk areas.

Targeting action on places where it can make the most difference is crucial. Trase data shows that commodity deforestation is often highly concentrated in a handful of localities where the commodity is produced. For example, 80% of deforestation linked to EU imports of soy and beef from Brazil occurs in less than 5% of producing municipalities. While curbing deforestation remains a significant challenge, focusing interventions on the right places can be much more effective.

The policy briefing calls for a step change in the commodity trade. Some commodities are sourced directly from the producer, but others are sourced indirectly via intermediaries who mix supplies from different locations, sometimes from a large network of smallholder producers. 

Indirect sourcing creates a challenge, which is why there is an urgent need to move away from making individual supply chains deforestation-free, towards providing much-needed incentives for individual operators to become deforestation-free suppliers. Commodity buyers can then assess their risk exposure based on who they are sourcing from within the supply chain and across different regions using data from the sub-national benchmarking system.

Read the full Trase Insight for more information.

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