France calls on EU to follow its forest lead
July 11, 2018

The French Secretary of State to the Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition has called for EU-wide measures to halt deforestation in supply chains. Ms Brune Poirson made the statement in June 2018, as France handed Denmark the rotating presidency of the Amsterdam Declarations Partnership, which aims to achieve deforestation-free commodities.

France is at the forefront of efforts to stop the import of products tainted with deforestation. It already has a law to halt deforestation in supply chains; it has just opened a public consultation on its Imported Deforestation Strategy; it has extended its “private sector alliance for sustainable palm oil” to look at sustainable commodities more generally; and it has announced plans to monitor imports of forest-risk commodities much more closely. This last move was inspired by the launch of the 2018 Trase Yearbook, which assesses where major purchasing countries and companies source their soya.

The call for EU-wide measures was made at the “Towards sustainable products without deforestation” meeting in Paris, attended by 150 participants from the EU and producer countries.

The participants widely congratulated the French initiatives for sending a promising signal, but warned that solutions currently exist only on paper. France’s preferred approaches also gave rise to concern.

For example, the proposal to take a jurisdictional approach favouring landscape planning and deforestation monitoring in selected geographical areas might create islands benefitting a few. Offering tax incentives for sustainable commodities would have to be managed at producer-country level, redistributing gains and losses between sustainable and unsustainable supply chains. 

Representatives from producer countries applauded France’s call and reminded attendees that deforestation has been rising for decades while the situation for environmental and human rights defenders has worsened. They called on Member States and the European Commission to tackle the challenges arising from our unsustainable food supply chains.