In response to the EU’s proposed regulation on deforestation-free products, Tropenbos International and 50 other civil society organizations call on the Commission to urgently assess smallholders’ needs. Without support, smallholders may struggle to comply and be excluded from the EU market while deforestation continues.
In a letter to the EU together with the signing organization’s we stress our great concern about the lack of consideration of the specific needs of smallholders and communities in the Global South to prepare for the future EU deforestation free products regulation. We welcome the Commission’s proposal - we believe it sets a high level of ambition to tackle global deforestation and forest degradation in EU supply chains. We strongly support its swift adoption and implementation. However, we regret the absence of a thorough assessment of potential challenges smallholders and communities may face in the global South to comply with future EU market access requirements, and what must be done to respond to those challenges. This prevents the development of a robust action plan to support smallholders and enable a just transition towards sustainable and deforestation free practices in countries whose economies are highly dependent on commodity exports to the EU Overall, it presents a risk to the success of the proposed regulation.
Smallholders form the backbone of the economy in many partner countries and loss of access to the EU market could have dire social and economic impacts on communities that are reliant on export related incomes to meet their basic needs, and where limited options for alternative income exist. By disregarding this key variable, smallholders could be left with no other option than to further encroach into forests, so as to secure the short-term subsistence of their families by selling their products to less demanding consumer markets.
In the letter we urge the EU to order a thorough assessment of the challenges smallholders may face when implementing future EU requirements, and, on this basis, propose accompanying measures to support the implementation of the regulation, before it enters into force.