European governments and companies failing to address impacts of consumption on tropical forests

Trase
Trase
Jun 11 · 2 min read
Soy is a hidden ingredient in a wide range of consumer goods — but expanding soy production in Latin America is putting forests at risk, photo: Pixabay

European governments are failing to deliver on a joint commitment to help end deforestation in European supply chains, according to new analysis released jointly by Trase and Global Canopy’s Forest 500 project today.

Seven European countries (Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and the UK) are signatories to the Amsterdam Declaration on Deforestation which sets out a commitment to support the private sector to deliver on its goal to remove deforestation from supply chains by 2020. As this deadline approaches, representatives are meeting in Utrecht to discuss progress.

But new analysis looking at the commitments of 180 of the most influential companies involved in forest-risk supply chains and operating in these countries finds that just 13 have a commitment to zero-deforestation across all of their operations.

More companies have committed to remove deforestation from palm oil supplies, but commitments on soy and cattle (the leading driver of deforestation) lag behind. Soy is a hidden ingredient in many consumer goods.

These companies are exposed to deforestation risk across soy, palm oil, cattle and pulp and paper supply chains. Data from Trase shows that Amsterdam Declaration countries imported 9.5 million tonnes of soy from Brazil in 2017 and these imports are associated with 10,000 hectares of soy deforestation*.

Commenting on the report, Trase director, Toby Gardner said:

Our analysis shows that the Amsterdam Declaration countries are not on track to deliver on their 2020 commitments — but there is a real opportunity for them to work with companies and clean up these supply chains while also investing to support more sustainable production approaches.”

The analysis reveals that per tonne of imported soy, the Amsterdam Declaration signatories are exposed to a greater risk of soy deforestation from Brazil than China because the European countries primarily source from the Matopiba region of Brazil where biodiverse rich native vegetation and forest are still being cleared.

Imports from this region account for just 15% of the total soy imported by the Amsterdam Declaration countries, but this relatively small amount accounts for 82% of their deforestation risk.

Gardner continued:

“Companies operating in these countries have a real opportunity to look at their supply chains and engage with their suppliers to ensure they are not sourcing from recently-deforested areas. And the European Union and individual countries can play an important role in supporting companies to work together to ensure their sourcing is more sustainable.”

* Soy deforestation risk is calculated by multiplying the total soy-related deforestation in producing municipalities by the share of that soy exported to Europe.