Foto: shutterstock.com | PARALAXIS
Agricultural expansion causes rapid degradation of ecosystems in countries of the South American economic and political bloc Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay). This endangers its unique biodiversity and harms the global climate. The European Union is an important trading partner and importer of commodities associated with deforestation and ecosystem degradation and therefore holds a significant responsibility to create deforestation-free supply chains and halt deforestation in the Mercosur.
1. What is the problem?
1. What is the problem?
Forests are crucial for climate protection. They are important carbon sinks, are home to around eighty percent of the animal species living on land, and form the basis of life for around 1.6 billion people.
Nevertheless, every year around 10 million hectares of forest are cleared globally, with Brazil being the country with the highest area of deforestation in the past ten years. In the South American economic region Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay), large areas are being deforested for cattle pastures and soybean cultivation.
The European Union (EU) is the second-largest buyer (following China) of soy and beef, the agricultural products that are particularly fueling deforestation there.
The European Union is the second-largest importer of agricultural commodities linked to tropical deforestation from Mercosur countries.
2. What is our aim?
2. What is our aim?
As the EU and China are the world’s largest import markets for beef and soy from the Mercosur region, they can help make great strides in protecting these forests by creating deforestation-free supply chains.
We aim to contribute to creating a constructive, transregional exchange between stakeholders of the Mercosur, China, and the EU about effective approaches and frameworks to create deforestation-free supply chains on the basis of well-established relations.
In the future, agricultural commodities like soy and beef for the Chinese and European markets will derive from deforestation-free supply chains.
3. What do we do?
3. What do we do?
We contribute to a constructive, transregional exchange between stakeholders of the Mercosur region, China, and the EU on effective approaches and frameworks for making supply chains deforestation free.
We contact and connect actors from civil society, academia, business and politics transnationally to jointly develop approaches to ensure deforestation-free agricultural supply chains.
Approaches to halt deforestation currently discussed at the European Union
As the world's second largest import market for forest risk commodities, the EU bears a large share of the responsibility for ensuring that global supply chains become deforestation-free. The EU is committed to minimizing its contribution to global deforestation and to promote the consumption of products from deforestation-free supply chains.
Germanwatch evaluated five policy approaches discussed in the EU for their effectiveness to reduce deforestation in global supply chains. You can download our study here.
The expansion of agricultural land for the production of animal feed or palm oil is the biggest driver of loss and degradation of forests and other natural ecosystems worldwide. The EU’s demand for these so-called forest and ecosystem risk commodities plays a significant part in global deforestation linked to international trade.
The EU Commission has recently presented a proposal for a Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence. The aim of this Directive is to integrate international standards into European law and prevent negative consequences of global business activities. Can the law contribute to ending deforestation in transnational supply chains?
In this publication, we have analysed, compared and evaluated five different approaches to halt deforestation in EU supply chains. To identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) of each approach, we have conducted expert interviews as well as an extensive literature review.
Deforestation, overexploitation and climate change threaten forests around the world. The European Union also plays an inglorious role in this. To change this, the European Commission presented yesterday a legislative proposal to prevent products from forest destruction from entering the EU internal market in the future. At the same time, a general EU supply chain law is being planned. Is the EU Commission duplicating its efforts? No, say Julia Otten and Johannes Heeg from our member Germanwatch and the Initiative Lieferkettengestz.
A thousand kilometer railway line is intended to make industrial soy production in Brazil cheaper and increase exports. As the second largest buyer of Brazilian soy, the European Union is already partly responsible for the social and ecological damage caused by soy production and for the expansion of cattle pastures in forest areas. Brazil's indigenous population are resisting the construction, pointing to the disregard of their rights and the threat to the climate and biodiversity.
The legislative proposal presented today by the EU Commission to exclude deforestation in the supply chains of companies operating in the EU market does not go far enough, according to the environment and development organisation Germanwatch. Katharina Brandt, policy advisor for agriculture at Germanwatch, says: "If we want to curb the climate crisis and stop the global extinction of species, savannahs and wetlands must not fall victim to the cultivation of soy for industrial livestock farming in Europe."
On 14 October 2021, Alejandro Brown, president of Fundación Proyungas from the Gran Chaco, researchers Laura Kehoe (University of Oxford) and Alfredo Romero Muñoz (Humboldt University Berlin) as well as policy advisor Barbara Hermann (Climate Focus) highlighted the impacts of deforestation in the Gran Chaco through international trade and the difficulties of a zero-deforestation approach. They warned that the Gran Chaco is in a very critical state and further deforestation could lead to the total destruction of the ecosystems.
How do European livestock farmers know whether forests have been cleared for the cultivation of soy in their feed? So far, feed manufacturers have pretended to be unable to take responsibility for their supply chains. Tracing back the origin of the soy through many intermediaries along the global supply chain was too difficult for them. In the future, however, an EU law could require companies to take responsibility for their global supply chains.
The climate crisis is hitting us right now and threatens to get much worse. Germany and the EU bear a special responsibility: What we do or don't do in Europe, our food and our trade system, have an impact on other parts of the world. This can be seen, for example, by looking at the destruction of forests in the Mercosur economic area – in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay.
Interview with Giulia Dias (18), an activist with Fridays for Future (FFF) Amazônia. She studies law, lives in the city of Belém in northern Brazil and does research on the rights of indigenous communities in her country at the Emílio Goeldi Museum.