Today is the International Day of Forests, a day to honor and enjoy forests. Most days we rush without paying too much attention past the forests in our lives, those growing alongside our farm fields and homes, the road to work, and those thousands of kilometers away impacted by our daily choices from the food we eat to the soap we use.
At IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative we think daily about the influence that our industrial processes and trade has on people, economies and the environment. Forests are often at the heart of both livelihood and sustainability and are impacted by the choices farmers, industries and governments make in their producing, sourcing, purchasing, and policies.
Daily consumption linked to forests: Palm oil and Soy
From baked goods and body creams to hamburgers and ice-cream, palm oil and soy play a big role in our day-to-day lives. Unsustainable production effects livelihoods and communities, and can destroy tropical forests and peatland. Sustainable production on the other hand offers development and trade opportunities, increases livelihoods and can incentivize forest protection.
Europe as the second largest global importer of palm and soy has the opportunity to lead the global economy towards fair and sustainable purchasing. With major stakeholders committed to 100% deforestation-free sourcing for palm oil and soy, Europe is already at the forefront of sustainable sourcing commitments, and progress has been made, despite the mix of forest protection, sustainable development and better livelihood being difficult to balance.
With 74% of palm oil imports certified sustainable, and 22% of soy imports verified responsible (only 12% deforestation-free), Europe is still far off from its commitment to zero deforestation by 2020. Over the last years we have learned how difficult it is to meet the target, implement action and find mainstream solutions, but we have also learned that it is possible.