London, 2 October 2020 -- Today the European Commission is taking a step forward in its work against global deforestation. The new multi-stakeholder platform launched today to help protect and restore world’s forests brings together an unprecedented range of stakeholders and expertise: consumer and producer countries, civil society organizations, and industry associations. In addition to being a forum for exchanges, the platform is to serve as a policy-making tool – informing the Commission’s ongoing work on a legislative proposal to minimise the risk that products linked to deforestation be sold in the European market, planned for the second quarter of 2021.
This commitment has been enshrined in the European Green Deal, the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, Farm to Fork Strategy, and the Communication on stepping up EU action against deforestation and forest degradation.
Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said:
Forests are indispensable for the wellbeing of all people on Earth, and yet we are losing them at an alarming rate. The EU is determined to act to change this course, using all tools at our disposal to help protect the world’s forests. But we cannot do it alone. I hope this platform of most relevant stakeholders will be an excellent catalyser for cooperation to halt and reverse deforestation.
German Minister of Agriculture Julia Klöckner said:
One of the biggest drivers of forest destruction worldwide is the legal and illegal conversion of forests into farmland. This is why we need to turn to agricultural commodities that are produced in a deforestation-free way. Food security and poverty alleviation have to go hand in hand with a more careful stewardship of forests. We all have a responsibility to protect forests – from industry, lawmakers up to consumers with their everyday choices.
Deforestation is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions causing global warming. It is pushing animals and plants to extinction. And it is also a complex problem that demands coordinated action among countries, companies and civil organizations.
The platform provides a forum to foster exchanges among stakeholders in order to build alliances, push for and share commitments to significantly reduce deforestation. Participants include representatives of EU Member States, top NGOs in the field of forest protection, industry organizations, international organizations, and non-European countries, including the largest consumer markets outside the EU and some of the countries experiencing significant destruction of their forests.
The platform is meant to inform the Commission’s ongoing impact assessment aimed at delivering a legislative proposal to minimise the risk of products linked to deforestation and forest degradation being placed on the EU market. The impact assessment will assess a wide range of measures, such as approaches similar to the EU system against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, different verification systems and due diligence, among others. A public consultation was launched in September and will run until 10 December 2020.
Forests cover 30% of the Earth's land area, host 80% of the world's terrestrial biodiversity, provide essential goods and services, including climate and water regulation and give subsistence and income to almost 2 billion people worldwide. Protecting and restoring world's forests is crucial for maintaining and increasing human well-being and putting our societies on to a sustainable path.
Between 1990 and 2020, about 10% of the world’s forest cover, an area bigger than India, was destroyed. If deforestation was a nation, it would be the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, after China and the U.S.
Ongoing destruction of the world’s forests is linked, to a large extent, to the expansion of agricultural production — in particular by converting forests to agricultural land dedicated to producing a number of high-demand products and commodities, such as palm oil, soy and beef. The EU is a major consumer of those products.
The Commission has committed to delivering, in 2021, a legislative proposal to minimise and/or avoid the placing of products associated with deforestation or forest degradation on the EU market. It is an integral part of the path set by the EU to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.
For more information
Press release: Commission steps up EU action to protect and restore the world's forests