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EU to require deforestation due diligence

Exploring new legislation which may affect shoemakers around the world.

Image © Brasil2 |

A preliminary agreement has been reached between the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union to introduce a ban on the importation and sale of products within member states which have been sourced from deforested areas anywhere in the world.

Once this becomes law, companies will be required to produce a due diligence statement in which they declare that all the items they are bringing into the EU or selling in the region have not contributed to either forest degradation or deforestation.

The products which are covered by the new accord reportedly include cattle, cocoa, coffee, palm oil, soybeans and wood. Items that are derived from such basics are also included, such as chocolate, furniture and leather products – so there could be an impact on producers of footwear and leathergoods.

Collecting the facts

Companies will need to gather precise geographical information on the farmland where the commodities that they source have been grown (or, in the case of animals, raised), in order for these commodities to be checked for their legal compliance. The governments of member states will be responsible to ensure that any businesses failing to comply will face what are being described as ‘effective and dissuasive penalties’.

Once the new regulation comes into force, all companies will be given 18 months to implement the new rules. It has been announced that ‘micro’ and small enterprises will be allowed a longer period in order to adapt.

A burning issue

According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, ‘deforestation’ is defined as ‘the conversion of forest to other land uses’ (regardless of whether it is human-induced), such as for farm, ranch or urban applications. The most concentrated deforestation is occurring in tropical rainforests. Reports suggest that one-third of our planet’s forest cover has been lost since the expansion of agriculture, with half of that reduction occurring during the 20th century. It is claimed that up to 180,000 square kilometres (69,500 square miles) of forest are destroyed worldwide every year – larger than the land area of Cambodia – and an average of 2,400 trees are said to be cut down each minute.

The forthcoming European action complements negotiations on the problems caused by deforestation which were held at the COP26 summit held in Glasgow, Scotland in 2021. One of the agreements made at that event – signed by more than 100 nations, including Brazil, China, Indonesia, the US and the UK – was a commitment to end and reverse deforestation by 2030.

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 28 of the January 2023 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

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