GRAPE 4 – Deforestation-free agri-food supply chains: will the new EU regulation be up to the challenge?
Global forests are under threat from deforestation and degradation. This has negative impacts on biodiversity and counteracts climate change mitigation efforts. It is therefore indispensable to tackle agricultural expansion which lies at the heart of almost 90% of global deforestation. The EU, whose consumption is estimated to be responsible for at least 10% of tropical deforestation, has an important role to play in bringing change.
This paper provides an analysis of the proposed new EU regulation on deforestation-free supply chains which seeks to address the EU’s significant contribution to global deforestation caused by its demand for certain agricultural and food products. We show that this legislation is an important part of the basket of measures under the Farm-to-Fork Strategy. Due diligence obbligations can be an effective tool for reducing the risk of deforestation and forest degradation embedded in EU agri-food supply chains. Addressing the different positions of the Commission, the European Parliament and Council, we argue that the targeted, commodity-based approach taken in this regulation is useful in establishing a solid and implementable regulatory framework which could withstand legal challenges from trading partners. Considering the risk of loopholes and leakage effects, it will be necessary to adopt adequate complementary measures, including effective engagement with producer countries, other consumer countries and stakeholders, in order to foster effectiveness and success of this legislation and to address root causes of deforestation. Creating a harmonised and consistent policy framework for all agri-food system actors furthermore requires ensuring consistency between this regulation and other relevant legislations, including for the financial sector.