IDH UK has supported 22 major companies including Unilever and Nestlé with a response on proposed UK legislation for due diligence requirements for forest risk commodities. The main conclusion is that the proposed laws do not go far enough.
The letter has been delivered to the UK government, following an open consultation by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
The proposed law would require larger companies operating in the UK to show where commodities such as cocoa, soy, rubber and palm oil originate from. It would be illegal to use products that fail to comply with laws to protect vital ecosystems in production countries.
As highlighted in IDH’s report ‘The urgency of action to tackle tropical deforestation’, the adoption of mandatory reporting guidelines and due diligence is a critical immediate action for governments to curb deforestation, increase sustainable production and support farmers. By including a due diligence aspect, companies would be required to assess the risk of deforestation in their respective value chains and take remedial actions. To spur the sector into further action on sustainable sourcing and value chain governance, governments should introduce reporting guidelines and mandate that firms importing or consuming forest-risk commodities report their volumes of imports, their sources, and the share that is sustainably sourced.
Joint sector response
Since the announcement of the consultation, IDH UK has supported its key private partners in promoting a collective sector response calling for the UK government to go further coordinated by the Retail Soy Group.
Major food businesses have said that the proposed laws do not go far enough. The group of companies agree that the law needs to apply to all deforestation – not just where it has been defined as illegal in individual countries. Together, they state that the proposed legislation should apply to companies based on the volume of deforestation risk commodities they source rather than their turnover.
Taking a joint stand alongside our industry peers from 3Keel and the Retail Soy Group ensures consistent messaging to the government. Together we continue to engage directly with the UK government commending the efforts made so far, and outlining sector priorities for future consultation.
IDH UK will also respond directly to the government consultation, calling for the development of a comprehensive process that works to halt deforestation.
I am encouraged by the collective voice of the UK food industry calling for a more robust response to the government consultation. Reducing deforestation is a crucial step in mitigating global climate change. Making it happen will require that industry, civil society, and governments work together. Following our submission on the consultation, we will engage further with the UK government, to encourage them to address concerns outlined in the letter from industry that will address all forms of deforestation.
Ruchira Joshi, IDH UK country director.Read here the letter on due diligence consultation
IDH UK is working on convening UK retail around topics of critical concern, such as living wages and deforestation. We aim identify ambitious actions to drive more resilient and sustainable agricultural systems that mitigate deforestation and environmental degradation, while supporting job creation and improved livelihoods.