Sustainability criteria for deforestation-free and human rights-compliant agricultural commodities
In view of the future European Commission’s assessment of both regulatory and non-regulatory measures to address deforestation and forest degradation, IEEP has designed sustainability criteria to ensure that Europe is part of the solution. This discussion paper identifies two sets of sustainability criteria that, to be effective in implementation, are recommended to be incorporated in binding instruments under EU law.
Given that the sustainability criteria are focused on the land-use impacts of the production, they are applicable to a wide set of agricultural and forest commodities placed on the EU market, including cocoa, soy, maize, palm oil, rubber, beef, dairy and poultry.
Criteria related to deforestation, ecosystem conversion and degradation
Criteria related to human rights
To ensure the implementation of such criteria, it is crucial to have in place a solid chain of custody and full traceability of international supply chains.
Tracking tools, including Transparent Supply Chains for Sustainable Economies (TRASE, 2015) and Global Forest Watch (GFW, 2019), can help make this ambition a reality.
Besides having legally binding sustainability criteria, the European Commission should also consider that a future EU regulatory framework addressing deforestation, ecosystem degradation and human rights violations should:
- Ensure coherent coverage of all key commodities (regardless of their use) placed on the EU market linked to deforestation and forest degradation;
- Provide clarity in relation to the appropriate definitions of deforestation, forest degradation and ecosystem conversion and the evidence that can be used to support this to ensure validity and continuity of claims and ensure a level playing field in the market place;
- Provide clarity in relation to the appropriate base year according to which land should not have been converted or deforested as a result of the production of a commodity, for this to be placed on the EU market.
For more information on IEEP’s work on this area, please contact Ben Allen (firstname.lastname@example.org).
 Square brackets [ ] above show where a decision by the EC should be made with respect of the specifics of the criteria, such as the base year or the definition used.