Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Commission steps up EU action to protect and restore the world's forests

On July 23, 2019, the European Commission adopted a comprehensive Communication setting out a new framework of actions to protect and restore the world's forests, which host 80% of biodiversity on land, support the livelihoods of around a quarter of the world's population, and are vital to our efforts to fight climate change. Cautious optimism from NGOs

 Greenpeace - Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 
The reinforced approach addresses both the supply and demand side of the issue. It introduces measures for enhanced international cooperation with stakeholders and Member States, promotion of sustainable finance, better use of land and resources, sustainable job creation and supply chain management, and targeted research and data collection. It also launches an assessment of possible new regulatory measures to minimise the impact of EU consumption on deforestation and forest degradation.

The European approach is a response to the continued widespread destruction of the world's forests; an area of 1.3 million square kilometres was lost between 1990 and 2016, equivalent to approximately 800 football fields every hour. The main drivers of this deforestation are demand for food, feed, biofuel, timber and other commodities.
Greenhouse gas emissions linked to deforestation are the second biggest cause of climate change, so protecting forests is a significant part of our responsibility to meet the commitments under the Paris Agreement. From an economic and social perspective, forests support the livelihoods of around 25 % of the global population, and they also embody irreplaceable cultural, societal and spiritual values.

The Communication has a two-fold objective of protecting and improving the health of existing forests, especially primary forests, and significantly increasing sustainable, biodiverse forest coverage worldwide.
The Commission has set out five priorities:
  • Reduce the EU consumption footprint on land and encourage the consumption  of products from deforestation-free supply chains in the EU;
  • Work in partnership with producing countries to reduce pressures on forests and to “deforest-proof” EU development cooperation;
  • Strengthen international cooperation to halt deforestation and forest degradation, and encourage forest restoration;
  • Redirect finance to support more sustainable land-use practices;
  • Support the availability of, quality of, and access to information on forests and commodity supply chains, and support research and innovation.
Actions to reduce EU consumption and encourage the use of products from deforestation-free supply chains will be explored through the creation of a new Multi-Stakeholder Platform on Deforestation, Forest Degradation and Forest Generation, which will bring together a broad range of relevant stakeholders. The Commission will also encourage stronger certification schemes for deforestation-free products and assess possible demand-side legislative measures and other incentives.

The Commission will work closely with partner countries to help them to reduce pressures on their forests, and will ensure that EU policies do not contribute to deforestation and forest degradation. It will help partners develop and implement comprehensive national frameworks on forests, enhancing the sustainable use of forests, and increasing the sustainability of forest-based value chains. The 

Commission will also work through international fora - such as the FAO, the UN, the G7 and G20, the WTO and the OECD - to strengthen cooperation on actions and policies in this field. The Commission said it will continue to ensure that trade agreements negotiated by the EU contribute to the responsible and sustainable management of global supply chains, and encourage trade of agricultural and forest-based products not causing deforestation or forest degradation. The Commission will also develop incentive mechanisms for smallholder farmers to maintain and enhance ecosystem services and embrace sustainable agriculture and forest management.

To improve the availability and quality of information, and access to information on forests and supply chains, the Commission proposes the creation of an EU Observatory on Deforestation and Forest Degradation, to monitor and measure changes in the world's forest cover and associated drivers. This resource will give public bodies, consumers and businesses better access to information about supply chains, encouraging them to become more sustainable.

The Commission will focus on redirecting public and private finance to help to create incentives for sustainable forest management and sustainable forest-based value chains, and for conservation of existing and sustainable regeneration of additional forest cover. Together with the Member States, the Commission will assess mechanisms with the potential to foster green finance for forests and further leverage and increase funding.


Cautious optimism from NGOs

According to Han de Groot, CEO of the Rainforest Alliance: “This is an important step, but it is only one step towards the comprehensive action we need to see. The EU must energize and empower its constituents to translate these commitments into concrete action

Both transparency on voluntary no-deforestation commitments and exploring regulatory measures are key steps to driving out deforestation from the EU imports by 2030.” said Henriette Walz, Deforestation Lead for the Rainforest Alliance.

The Commission has finally opened the door to regulating the EU’s imports of commodities like palm oil, beef, soy and cocoa, which are the main drivers of worldwide deforestation and heavily associated with human rights abuses. Our message today is to Ursula von der Leyen: we desperately need new laws that require companies to demonstrate that goods they put on the EU market are not tainted with deforestation or human rights abuses,” said Hannah Mowat, campaigns coordinator at forests and rights NGO, Fern.

NGOs cautious optimism was mirrored by civil society in Ghana, where deforestation increased by an astonishing 60% in 2018, driven largely by the production of cocoa, much of which is destined for the EU - the world’s largest importer, processor and consumer of the commodities.

Addressing deforestation is not possible without addressing the EU’s demand for the goods which drive it.” said Obed Owusu-Addai, campaigner at EcoCare, a Ghanaian rights-based campaign and advocacy NGO, which focusses on community rights and forests.
“This Communication recognises that trade with highly forested countries can have a negative impact on forests. We therefore welcome proposals to include specific provisions to ensure the trade in agricultural commodities doesn’t lead to deforestation and forest degradation, provided they are legally binding and enforceable. Unfortunately the Mercosur Agreement lacks any specific provisions in this regard” Mowat concluded.

Download the EU Communication on Stepping up EU Action to Protect and Restore the World’s Forests 


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

U.S. senators demand more federal action to stop cocoa imports made with forced child labour

U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter to Kevin McAleenan, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, calling on the Administration to enforce existing law and investigate and block any cocoa imports produced with forced child labour.

The Senators’ letter follows a Washington Post report detailing the prevalence of child labour in the production of cocoa imported to the U.S. by large chocolate companies. These companies, including Hershey, Mars and Nestle, originally agreed to eradicate child labour from their supply chains in West Africa by 2005.

The global cocoa trade is significant, and the U.S. is a large importer of cocoa products.  In 2018 alone, the U.S. imported $608 million of cocoa beans from the Ivory Coast, in addition to $100 million of cocoa paste. Given the prevalence of forced child labour in the Ivory Coast’s cocoa sector, it is clear at least some, if not a significant portion of those imports, were produced with forced child labour.  It is time the U.S. took more aggressive action to combat forced child labour in the cocoa sector and to fully enforce Section 1307 as Congress intended,” the Senators wrote.

"More than 20 years ago, the Department of Labour (DOL) and Congress worked with large chocolate companies to develop a framework to eradicate child labour from their supply chains in West Africa, which sources the vast majority of cocoa worldwide.  These companies committed to eradicating child labour from cocoa production in West African countries, including the Ivory Coast, by 2005.   Unfortunately, they missed that deadline and several subsequent ones, and the widespread use of child labour in the sector persists.  According to DOL, more than two million children continue to perform the hazardous work of harvesting cocoa in West Africa." 

In their letter, the Senators press Acting Secretary McAleenan to instruct Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to block cocoa imports made with forced labour and, where appropriate, pursue criminal investigations.

A copy of the Senators’ letter can be found HERE.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Smallholder Access Program: an Innovative Approach to Responsible Forest Certification

The Smallholder Access Program seeks to make Forest Stewardship Council® certification more accessible to private landowners of 250 or fewer acres

The Rainforest Alliance, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and a consortium of forward-minded forestry corporations announce the launch of the Smallholder Access Program. 

FSC, long considered the gold standard of ecologically-responsible, socially-conscious forest management, has worked to transform forestry practices globally for nearly 30 years through rigorous, science-based standards and a third-party certification system. Building off this experience, the Smallholder Access Program (SAP) is a two-year FSC pilot project designed to increase access to forest certification for woodland owners under 250 acres (100 hectares). 

The SAP will be available to landowners across Southern and Central Appalachia, encompassing parts of Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. 

In its pilot phase, the SAP will be limited to a total enrollment of 7,400 acres (3,000 hectares). The SAP aims to enrich the ecological health and economic productivity of the region, one of the world’s most vital wood baskets and a biodiversity hotspot.

Read further the press release by Rainforest Alliance

Friday, May 31, 2019

Bitter Cup - The Dark Side of the Tea Trade

From: dw.com
"Working conditions on many of India's tea plantations are disastrous. The pickers live in dire poverty with no clean drinking water and are exposed to pesticides. Why are Indian tea workers not benefiting from the global tea boom?"

Watch the video



Saturday, April 27, 2019

FairWild Foundation publishes FairWild Standard Revision and Development Procedure

On April 16, the FairWild Foundation published a new policy document “FairWild Standard Revision and Development Procedure (Version 1/2019).” The document describes the process by which the FairWild Standard – an internationally recognized set of principles, criteria and indicators for verifying the sustainable and equitable trade in wild harvested ingredients – will be periodically reviewed and revised. 



Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Rapid growth in extraction of materials is the chief culprit in climate change and biodiversity loss


  • Resource extraction has more than tripled since 1970, including a fivefold increase in the use of non-metallic minerals and a 45 per cent increase in fossil fuel use

  • By 2060, global material use could double to 190 billion tonnes (from 92 billion), while greenhouse gas emissions could increase by 43 per cent

  • The extraction and processing of materials, fuels and food contribute half of total global greenhouse gas emissions and over 90 per cent of biodiversity loss and water stress
Rapid growth in extraction of materials is the chief culprit in climate change and biodiversity loss – a challenge that will only worsen unless the world urgently undertakes a systemic reform of resource use, according to a report released at the UN Environment Assembly.

Global Resources Outlook 2019, prepared by the International Resource Panel, examines the trends in natural resources and their corresponding consumption patterns since the 1970s to support policymakers in strategic decision-making and transitioning to a sustainable economy.

Over the past five decades, the population has doubled and global domestic product has increased four times. The report finds that, in the same period, annual global extraction of materials grew from 27 billion tonnes to 92 billion tonnes (by 2017). This will double again by 2060 on current trends.
According to the report, “the extraction and processing of materials, fuels and food make up about half of total global greenhouse gas emissions and more than 90 per cent of biodiversity loss and water stress”. By 2010, land-use changes had caused a loss of global species of approximately 11 per cent.

“The Global Resources Outlook shows that we are ploughing through this planet’s finite resources as if there is no tomorrow, causing climate change and biodiversity loss along the way,” said Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director of UN Environment. “Frankly, there will be no tomorrow for many people unless we stop.”

Since 2000, growth in extraction rates have accelerated to 3.2 per cent per annum, driven largely by major investments in infrastructure and higher material living standards in developing and transitioning countries, especially in Asia. However, the wealthiest countries still needed 9.8 tons of materials per person in 2017, mobilized from elsewhere in the world, which is also driving this trend.

More specifically, the use of metal ores increased by 2.7 per cent annually and the associated impacts on human health and climate change doubled during 2000-2015. Fossil fuel usage went from 6 billion tonnes in 1970 to 15 billion tons in 2017. Biomass increased from 9 billion tonnes to 24 billion tonnes – mostly for food, feedstock and energy.

By using data from historical trends, the report projects into the year 2060. From 2015-2060, natural resource use is expected to grow by 110 per cent, leading to a reduction of forests by over 10 per cent and a reduction of other habitats like grasslands by around 20 per cent. The implications for climate change are severe, as there would be an increase in greenhouse gas emissions of 43 per cent.
The report says that if economic and consumption growth continue at current rates, far greater efforts will be required to ensure positive economic growth does not cause negative environmental impacts.

The report argues that resource efficiency is essential, though not enough on its own. “What is needed is a move from linear to circular flows through a combination of extended product life cycles, intelligent product design and standardization and reuse, recycling and remanufacturing,” it says.

If the recommended measures are implemented, it could accelerate economic growth, outweighing the up-front economic costs of shifting to economic models consistent with holding global warming to 1.5°C this century.

“Modelling undertaken by the International Resource Panel shows that with the right resource efficiency and sustainable consumption and production policies in place, by 2060 growth in global resource use can slow by 25 per cent, global domestic product could grow 8 per cent – especially for low- and middle-income nations – and greenhouse gas emissions could be cut by 90 per cent compared with projections for continuing along historical trends,” the Co-Chairs of the Panel, Izabella Teixeira and Janez Potočnik, wrote in the joint preface to the report.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

New corporate identity for Rainforest Alliance

A year on from merging with UTZ, the Rainforest Alliance is devising a single new certification programme to be launched at the end of 2019. 
As part of their unification, the Rainforest Alliance has launched a new corporate identity.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Fairtrade becomes a member of ICI (International Cocoa Initiative)

From: International Cocoa Initiative
Fairtrade International has joined the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) as a Non-Profit Contributing Partner. The partnership will allow the two organisations to improve their existing operating models and reach more children and their families in cocoa communities in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to achieve a shared goal of eliminating child labour and enabling child protection.

Read more about the partnership

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

GOTS is the stringent voluntary global standard for the entire post-harvest processing (including spinning, knitting, weaving, dyeing and manufacturing) of apparel and home textiles made with certified organic fibre (such as organic cotton and organic wool), and includes both environmental and social criteria. Key provisions include a ban on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), highly hazardous chemicals (such as azo dyes and formaldehyde), and child labour, while requiring strong social compliance management systems and strict waste water treatment practices.

GOTS was developed by leading international standard setters - Organic Trade Association (U.S.), Japan Organic Cotton Association, International Association Natural Textile Industry (Germany), and Soil Association (UK) to define globally-recognised requirements that ensure the organic status of textiles, from field to finished product. GOTS is a non-profit organisation which is self-financed. 



Sunday, March 24, 2019

Fair for Life label certifies more than 143,000 producers and workers

Fair for Life label certifies more than 143,000 producers and workers, contributing 36% of a development fund to local health and education projects. 

Read more about Fair for life