The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 420 million hectares of forest — an area larger than the EU — were lost to deforestation between 1990 and 2020. EU consumption represents around 10% of global deforestation.
Following COP 15 (the UN’s Biodiversity conference) in December 2022, members of the European Parliament reached a preliminary deal with EU governments on a new law on deforestation-free products that will make it obligatory for companies to verify and issue a so-called “due diligence” statement that goods placed on the EU market have not led to deforestation anywhere in the world after 31 December 2020. The products in the new legislation include coffee.
Recently adopted, the regulation will require businesses to collect the geographic boundaries of the land where the commodities they place on the market were produced (these boundaries are commonly referred to as “polygons”). This strict traceability is meant to ensure that only deforestation-free products enter the EU market.
According to the provisional text, companies will not be allowed to sell their products in the EU without this type of due diligence. Companies will also have to verify compliance with the producing country’s relevant legislation, including their legislation on human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples.
What will the impact be?
The new regulation, referred to as EUDR, will require all importers to provide a due diligence statement and geographic coordinates of the farms in order to sell products on the EU market. According to Pascal Canfin, the chairman of the European Parliament’s environment committee, companies “will be required to have a certificate, based on satellite images and GPS coordinates to know exactly where the commodity comes from”.
He stated on 6th December, “When you arrive on the EU’s internal market…you must show this certificate. And if you don’t have it, you can’t go in …The amount of inspections carried out will depend on the country of production, with the most high-risk countries seeing 9% of operators and traders trading products checked [at port]”.
Imports will need proof that they have looked at baseline satellite imagery and intelligence from no later than December 31, 2020 and the matching intelligence from current time and can confirm that no deforestation is detected.
Farm size will also play a factor in meeting the regulation’s requirements. Farms that are under 4 hectares will need to be indicated by a GPS point. Farms larger than this, however, will need to have full boundary mapping of a farmer’s property. These boundary maps, commonly called polygons, are formed by great quantities of singular points connected on a map. As each point on the map has its own unique latitude and longitude, the geometry of a single polygon typically contains a very long set of characters.
The anti-deforestation legislation (EUDR) is one of the first of a host of new sustainability regulations anticipated from the EU in the coming years. The EU’s Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, commonly referred to as CS3D, is aimed toward the further protection of human rights, including labour rights. Companies will be required to verify compliance with the country of production’s laws, including the rights of Indigenous Peoples. As this relies on the law of the country of production, stringency may vary. More can be anticipated on CS3D in the coming months.
When will this happen?
As of the April 19, 2023, the EU formally adopted EUDR. After several weeks of additional work, the regulation became official and the 18-month clock for compliance started. For most of us, we have until December 30, 2024 to establish our compliance. After this date, all coffees imported to the EU will need to contain their anti-deforestation due diligence documentation.
Useful articles on the most recent adoption phase
Summary of the incoming regulation:
A factsheet from the European council:
Useful articles on the most recent adoption phase: