In Mid-December 2021 the European Commission is due to release a regulatory proposal to minimise the European Union’s (EU) deforestation and forest degradation footprint. In advance of this draft proposal, six NGOs have come together to outline how the EU can ensure that the Regulation does not harm communities and smallholders (key actors in the production of forest and ecosystem risk commodities (FERCs)).
The briefing explains that the EU will need to deliver a smart and comprehensive mix of demand and supply-side measures to halt deforestation, forest degradation and the destruction of other ecosystems, which includes measures to involve and support smallholders. The EU should:
- Jointly develop and then implement roadmaps with producer countries to help smallholders to comply with EU requirements. These should be developed and implemented with the proper participation of smallholders themselves.
- Promote, in partnership with producer countries, financial incentives for smallholders to move towards sustainable practices.
- Promote landscape/jurisdictional approaches in which farmers organisations, the private sector and governments work together to roll out sustainable farming at the local level.
- Increase smallholders’ access to affordable financing and loans to invest in sustainable production.
- Strengthen smallholders’ tenure rights.
- Facilitate a process between stakeholders to develop pricing models that enable farmers to earn a living income and produce sustainable deforestation-free goods.
The EU will not need to water-down ambition of their regulatory proposal to ensure smallholders are not excluded from the EU market. In fact, putting in place measures to support smallholders will make it more effective. It will also improve social justice and help the EU meet its commitments under the European Green Deal, the Paris Agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Sustainable Development Goals.