The World Fair Trade Organization Europe welcomes the European Commission’s initiative on mitigating deforestation and forest degradation and current models of production and trade of Forest Risk Agricultural Commodities (FRAC) many of which are unsustainable and already identified as main causes of deforestation.
However, we strongly urge the European Commission to consider that the root cause behind many of these overt drivers is poverty. Addressing this will be key in meaningfully addressing deforestation, in particular when linked with farming of cocoa and coffee. Fair Trade here offers a readily adoptable model which helps smallholder farmers and workers in particular to attain better livelihoods and fair payments while simultaneously taking care of the environment and adhering to sustainable production practices. A recent study by Le BASIC commissioned by Commerce Équitable France and Max Haavelar France called “Coffee: The success story that hides a crisis” (please see attached file for a synthesis of the report) illustrates how Fair Trade practices (especially in combination with organic certification) helps significantly mitigate “societal costs” borne by producer countries in coffee supply chains – that is, losses and expenses (e.g. from environmental impact) borne by third parties or the producing communities. Those costs can be as high as 90 cents of costs borne by the exporting country per one US dollar of coffee exported (numbers for 2017). Among the externalities that the Fair Trade practices covered in the study help mitigate are deforestation, along with environmental degradation due to high chemical inputs in connection with farming (it is here important to remember that coffee is commonly grown in forest surroundings). We wish to stress, of course, that Fair Trade does not apply only to coffee, but this is just one example with available data that illustrates how it works as a holistic model towards more sustainable production and consumption. It further shows how Fair Trade is also a necessary condition as part of any solution able to meaningfully address the dire issue of deforestation and forest degradation.
Nevertheless, this would only work if the European Commission simultaneously implements new, comprehensive legal measures, where companies (not just the smallholder farmers and workers of FRAC’s at the end of the supply chain) are held accountable for violations occurring in their supply chain. We here refer the European Commission to already existing models and frameworks developed within the EU Timber Regulation and regulation on EU Illegal (IUU) Fishing. We strongly urge the European Commission to also include models with mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD), examples of which can already be found in the French Devoir de Vigilance law, the UK Modern Slavery Act, as well as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, along with the OECD-FAO Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains.
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