Verslag: Bijeenkomst Zero-deforestation

On 7 February 2019 a VTB-event was held on ‘Zero-deforestation commitments’ in Utrecht.
The initiative to organise this event was based on the current consultation that  was initiated on the ‘EU Roadmap towards a communication on stepping up action against deforestation and degradation’ and the enormous effects of deforestation due to the production of commodities such as cocoa, coffee, soy and palm oil.

During the meeting, Rosalien Jezeer of Tropenbos International, Thomas Duurland of IDH (for Violaine Berger), Niels Haak of Conservation International, Sebastiaan de Smedt of Proforest and Vincent van den Berk of the Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture shared their insights in recent developments. After their concise presentations, the participants exchanged ideas and answered questions, together with one of the presenters, during break out sessions around four themes: palm oil, coffee, soy/beef and government.

It became clear that many companies have committed to zero-deforestation in the meantime:  commodity traders, consumer goods manufacturers  and retailers, especially in palm oil, timber and pulp and paper sectors. Additionally, progress has been made with traceability and supply chain mapping. However, impact is not visible on the ground yet. Moreover, no sector is on track to achieve deforestation-free supply chains by 2020.

It was remarkable, that although there is a lot of attention for the palm oil sector, the sector that is causing most forest loss is cattle (2 mln ha, palm oil follows on a distance with 270.000 ha).

A call was made to take action now, since deforestation is already substantial and the demand for several commodities will strongly increase in future.
Among the measures that can be taken or intensified are the following. At the supply side: technical assistance, availability of finances and empowerment for farmers ( smallholders) to increase yield; better law enforcement; working in multi-stakeholder partnerships, including governments. On the demand side: due diligence (obligatory or voluntarily); certification/availability of standards; extension of sustainability criteria; traceability; and lower consumption (!).

In conclusion, it was generally felt that deforestation was caused by the production of commodities is a  multidimension and complex issue with multiple causes. Therefore, it is necessary to approach the issue with a multiple set of measures and not only zero-deforestation commitments. It was also made clear that these measures take time to implement. Therefore, additional measures need to be taken now !

Facilitated by: Sandra van Hulsen, Van Hulsen Consulting; Verina Ingram, WUR; and Lieke Guinee, Agri-Logic

p.s. Several participants indicated to join the consultation on the ‘EU Roadmap towards a communication on stepping up action against deforestation and degradation’. The results of this consultation are known in the meantime and can be found here:  http://ec.europa.eu/environment/forests/eu_comm_2019.htm

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