If you were not in Berlin on the 14th of June, you might have missed out on an opportunity to learn more about the forthcoming EU Deforestation Regulation, which was recently published in the Official Journal of the EU. Here is a recap of the seminar, which took us into “the engine room of driving sustainability”, as phrased by Jacob Sterling, Senior Director of Tailored Services, Preferred by Nature.
Two weeks ago, all interested international stakeholders were invited to a cross-cutting seminar in Berlin to share insights about the coming EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) and how to prepare for its implementation. Both regulators, operators and service providers were represented in the agenda and a diverse audience covering all affected commodities showed up to learn more about the practices that are required to comply with the EUDR.
BMW Group’s Senior Expert in Sustainable Supply Chain Management Vanessa Buchberger said: “Ensuring compliance with the EUDR in 18 months is a challenging task for the industry. The seminar gave us the chance to exchange on the key issues of the new legislation and learn about best practices. The event provided space for information and dialogue and approaches for harmonization, all three being key for a successful implementation in the supply chains.”
As a point of departure, Preferred by Nature’s Regulatory Impact Programme Director, David Hadley Garcia, provided a thorough presentation of the EUDR, its due diligence requirements and its implications. Importantly, he noted that a robust due diligence system relies on documented procedures and engagement in compliance from the entire supply chain, where risks should be continuously assessed, mitigated and reported on.
The seminar was enriched by both regulators’ and companies’ perspectives on implementing EUDR. The German competent authority representative Felix von Glisczynski highlighted the strength of the regulation, as it is built on lessons learned about halting global deforestation. According to Felix, the adoption of EUDR finally allows for a level playing field across sectors and countries, and the implementation will have wide-ranging effects due to EUDR’s scope and the strict obligations for operators, traders and competent authorities.
Felix von Glisczynski further emphasized that companies should already begin working towards complying with the forthcoming EUDR, as only 18 months remain until the regulation will be enforced on the 30th of December 2024.
Implementation of EUDR in practice
With this encouragement, it was inspiring to listen to Anders Saxbøl from the international chocolate manufacture company Ferrero, which has already implemented several steps in their supply chain to comply with the EUDR. By utilizing different tools and services, such as geolocation and certification schemes, Ferrero is staying ahead of compliance and hopes to continue to strengthen the sustainability of its entire supply chain.
Although Ferrero acts as a beacon of hope for successful implementation, the adoption of EUDR has raised many questions among international companies, who fear the mandatory due diligence rules will be too comprehensive to comply with in practice.
“No doubt, the implementation of EUDR will be difficult for many, but by introducing tools such as risk assessments, due diligence systems, tracking and geolocation, aiming for a sustainable supply chain is achievable” said Jacob Sterling, Preferred by Nature’s Senior Director of Tailored Services.
Therefore, the seminar dedicated time to delving into practical tools that can assist companies in complying with the EUDR. A way to get started is to revise a company’s current due diligence system and map the gaps, strengths and weaknesses in the supply chain. Here, Preferred by Nature’s free risk assessment tool, the Sourcing Hub, can be of great help in mitigating supply chain risks.
Certification schemes were also highlighted as a help in setting up sustainable supply chains but should not be a substitute for the operator’s responsibility for compliance with the EUDR. Christian Sloth, Preferred by Nature’s Sustainability Programme Director explained that at the moment, no certification scheme is fully aligned with the due diligence rules of EUDR. Yet some certification schemes, such as FSC, address significant parts of the EUDR requirements, with intentions to include GIS and traceability systems in the future.
The EUDR will require having access to the geolocation of all plots of land, where the commodities in scope are produced, leaving a lot of work with identifying the exact location of many producers’ farmlands. As a provider of satellite monitoring, LiveEO presented satellite imagery as a possible tool to map out the specific plots of land and assess whether deforestation had occurred on the plot after 31 December 2020.
Thereby, the seminar ”enhanced the understanding of what my company needs to do in order to be compliant with the new EUDR and how we are going to achieve it in only 18 months’ time” said Bethany, Group Environmental Specialist at ECCO (shoe and leather company).
Collaboration as a facilitator for compliance
The seminar created opportunities to network and share knowledge and practices across all the different sectors which were represented.
As more commodities are now experiencing the same regulations, there is massive potential in learning from other stakeholders and industries and share experiences with technologies and data management, as highlighted by Magnus Dienzer from Stora Enso.
In alignment with this encouragement, Preferred by Nature’s Senior Director of Tailored Services called to ambitious action and closed the seminar on an uplifting note:
“Let’s celebrate the courage, ambition and leadership of the EU. Sustainability and sustainable supply chains have for decades been dependent on voluntary actions, but with the EUDR, there will be a more level playing field. Let’s collaborate and aim for full sustainability in supply chains, as it will become the new norm”, finished Jacob Sterling.
What is the EU Deforestation Regulation?
The European Council and the European Parliament have agreed to adopt the EU Deforestation Regulation, which aims to minimize forest degradation and deforestation associated with products imported to or exported from the EU market.
The new EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) will come into force on the 29th of June 2023 and on the 30th of December 2024 businesses will have to comply with all the requirements of the regulation. This leaves only 18 months for operators and traders to set up sufficient due diligence systems to comply with the new rules that affect seven commodities: wood, soy, cattle, cocoa, coffee, palm oil and rubber.
The regulation will require operators and traders to trace potential deforestation and forest degradation within their entire supply chain by collecting information, assessing risks and mitigating risks where necessary. Therefore, many companies likely need to adopt methods and tools such as tracking and geolocation to attest to the origin of the products.
The Rising to the challenge – get ready for the EUDR seminar was held as part of the LIFE Legal Wood project, funded by the EU LIFE programme. Thank you to all attendees and presenters, as well as to the LIFE programme.
The European Commission (donor) is not responsible for any claims or views presented in this material. The European Commission's support for the production of this publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of information contained therein.