Environmentalists have given a mixed reaction to the European Uniondeforestation regulation, welcoming the initiative to clean up the supply chain but noting that it will be implemented unilaterally and that it is not sufficiently effective to prevent and reduce deforestation. A group of 44 civil society organizations said in a joint statement on Friday that while the regulation tried to clean up the EU’s own commodity supply chain, it failed to address the root causes of deforestation and left it to producer countries to actually stop deforestation.
Yuyun Indradi, executive director of environmental group Trend Asia, said that the term “deforestation” covered by the regulation was still limited to conversion of natural forest into agricultural land, neglecting other kinds of changes such as forest cut down to make way for timber plantations or infrastructure projects. “This is yet another false solution. The definition of deforestation should be wider to include monoculture plantations, infrastructure and mining because they all clear land and change the forest’s ecosystem and biodiversity,” Yuyun told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday. The European Parliament and the Council of the EU reached a preliminary political agreement on the deforestation regulation in December 2022, paving the way for its entry into force in May or June this year and into application for operators and traders 18 months after that.
According to the regulation, importers into the EU would have to prove that the palm oil, timber, rubber, coffee, cocoa, soy or cattle, as well as derived products they traded did not contribute to deforestation after the cut-off date of Dec. 31, 2020, with strict traceability requirements Rahmat Maulana Sidik, executive director of trade watchdog Indonesia for Global Justice, also said that the EU regulation neglected deforestation caused by mining activities such as for nickel or coal. He suggested that if more commodities were included in the regulation, it would provide a stronger filter for Indonesian products that cause deforestation from entering the EU. “The EU’s consistency is tested in this deforestation regulation.
They still want to import nickel ore, a raw material, from Indonesia when we know that it also causes deforestation, but they still want it and even brought the matter up to the World Trade Organization when Indonesia limited its exports of nickel ore,” Rahmat said on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Mardi Minangsari chairperson of environmental group Kaoem Telapak said that the EU deforestation regulation would require cooperation and support from the EU to producer countries to truly combat global deforestation. She said that without cooperation, support and incentives from the EU, the regulation would be enforced unilaterally on producer countries but would have limited impact on governance improvements for the key commodities. “What will happen is that smallholders will be excluded from the supply chain because they will find it difficult to fulfill the criteria of the regulation,” Mardi said.
Indonesian officials have argued that the EU deforestation regulation “discriminated” against Indonesian palm oil and have sought to take diplomatic measures against the policy. In February, Coordinating Economic Affairs Minister Airlangga Hartarto and Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Plantations Minister Fadillah Yusof announced that the two countries, major palm oil producers, agreed to send a joint mission to the EU to present scientific facts, economic benefits and the palm oil industry’s best practices.
The Environment and Forestry Instruments Standardization Agency (BSILHK) insists that Indonesia has been able to reduce deforestation and has taken steps to improve palm oil governance through regulations, a palm oil permit moratorium and audits, as well as land-ownership conflict resolution.
source : A. Muh. Ibnu Aqil (The Jakarta Post)