EU regulation on deforestation-free products: industry leaders and advocates collaborate to address challenges

Industry leaders and advocacy groups have collaborated following a series of insightful discussions to tackle the challenges posed by the EU Regulation on Deforestation-Free Products. Spearheaded by the European Shippers’ Council (ESC) and in partnership with key stakeholders, these discussions emphasised the urgent need for proactive engagement and strategic planning to mitigate the impact on small farmers and vital ecosystems.

3rd November 2023, ESC hosted a webinar that provided a platform for robust dialogue among industry representatives and non-profit organisations. Speakers from Solidaridad, the Netherlands Oils and Fats Industry (MVO), and the Belgian Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil voiced concerns about the regulation’s potential implications and the complexities of compliance.

Following this, a second meeting was organised on 18th March by the European Shippers’ Council. The legal aspects discussion, led by Julia Hörnig and Lothar Harings of GvW Graf von Westphalen, underscored the necessity of balancing compliance with both domestic laws and potential EU regulations. Nancy Lindenhovius, representing Wilmar Europe, contributed valuable insights into the practical implications within the Indonesian context, where deforestation remains a pressing concern.

Ms. Hörnig and Mr. Harings focused on the legal intricacies, highlighted the importance of proactive engagement with industries to ensure a smooth transition into compliance. They talked about the dilemma faced by stakeholders in complying with both domestic and EU laws, advocating for early lobbying efforts to influence policy direction.

Addressing concerns raised during the discussions, industry leaders emphasised the need for clear guidance and practical information dissemination to members. Uncertainties remain regarding market readiness and commercialisation of the EU Regulation on Deforestation-Free Products, drawing lessons from challenges experienced with the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM).

In conclusion, stakeholders agreed on actions to address the challenges posed by the regulation. These include early engagement with industries, strategic lobbying efforts, and the formulation of a cohesive strategy to navigate legal ambiguities.