Sustainability

Belgium joins countries calling on the European Commission to act on deforestation

By Anthony Myers contact

- Last updated on GMT

EC countries have called on cocoa producers to stop deforestation by 2030. Pic: WCF
EC countries have called on cocoa producers to stop deforestation by 2030. Pic: WCF

Related tags: Sustainability, Cocoa

Initiative also calls on the EC to propose a due diligence regulation for the cocoa sector and link between human rights violations and deforestation.

Belgium has joined six other European countries - Denmark, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Italy - calling on the European Commission to “develop an ambitious action plan against deforestation and forest degradation before the end of the current mandate of the European Commission (mid 2019)​”.

Belgium is the second biggest exporter of chocolate in the world (after Germany), producing 600,000 tons annually. Until now, it has not been involved in discussions on sustainability in the cocoa sector.

Belgium’s stance means that there’s now overwhelming momentum for the Commission to act. Member States, companies and civil society expect ambitious action on deforestation caused by Europeans’ consumption — and increasingly, they agree this must include regulation​,”  said Julia Christian, forests campaigner at Fern.

This recommendation is part of a sustainability initiative on chocolate, set up by the Belgium government, chocolate companies and civil society, which aims to provide a fair income to cocoa producers and stop deforestation driven by cocoa production by 2030.

Due diligence regulation

The initiative also calls on the European Commission to propose a due diligence regulation for the cocoa sector, describing it as “particularly ripe for legislation addressing the root causes of and interlinkages between human rights violations and deforestation”.

This follows calls made at the World Cocoa Conference earlier this year in Berlin, where chocolate companies agreed in a common declaration that there was a need to “strengthen human rights due diligence, including through potential regulatory measures by governments.”

“At the EU level, Belgium has real leverage to halt deforestation and human rights abuses in the cocoa sector. Today’s call for action is an important step in the right direction”,​ said Beatrice Wedeux, forest policy officer at WWF Belgium.

Belgium has one of the world’s most iconic chocolate traditions, but it has been slower to take action on the human rights and environmental abuses contained in our famous truffles. We are delighted to see Belgium now taking the lead, and urge other countries to follow suit​,” said Bart van Besien, policy officer at Oxfam-Wereldwinkels.

Deforestation in the cocoa sector is directly linked with the extreme poverty in which cocoa farmers live. At the same time as stopping deforestation, we need to ensure that cocoa farmers make a living income​,” he said.

Related topics: Confectionery, Sustainability, Policy

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