In the coming months, new EU regulation on deforestation-free products will be discussed in the Dutch and EU parliaments. The goal is that no more products related to deforestation in whatever way, will be imported into the EU . A very good and important initiative, but according to many civil society organisations, including Both ENDS, the bill that has now been drafted is far from sufficient.
The Netherlands has not reached the 100% target it set itself for the purchase of responsibly sourced soy, with only 34% of imports reaching the RTRS (Round Table on Sustainable Soy ) or an equivalent sustainability standard in 2015. The pork and poultry sectors are lagging behind with an uptake of less than 10% of responsibly sourced soy.
Recently, Dutch media covered the publication of a new report, issued by WWF, stating the big role the Netherlands still has in global deforestation, mainly due to our soy and palm oil imports. To counter this alarming message, Paul Wolvekamp and Tamara Mohr wrote an op-ed about the possibilities the Netherlands has to change the tide, which was published in Dutch on the website Joop.nl. Below, you find the English translation.
The new year has barely begun but already record high summer temperatures are being reported in parts of South America, especially Argentina, Paraguay and Southern Brazil. The latest heatwave, with temperatures of up to 45C, arrives on top of two years of severe drought which had a devastating effect on the entire region. It is a painful reminder of the immediacy of climate change and emblematic for what happens when vital ecosystems are not protected and for the catastrophic consequences as much on already endangered wildlife as on the local communities who depend on them for their livelihoods. One of the most affected areas are the regions wetlands – unique ecosystems, which are crucial ecological pressure points, vital for the regulation of river systems and huge carbon sinks. Their loss not only has ecological impacts but affects thousands of local communities which depend on their health for fishing, tourism and local agriculture. The threat to them by for example droughts and fires, can be directly linked to the large-scale production of soy, produced mainly for export. This in turn means responsibility for what is happening in the region needs to be acknowledged and shared by leaders around the world, and especially large importers such as the Netherlands.
The Netherlands does not reach target for responsible soy
The Dutch Soy Coalition (consisting of eight development and environmental organisations*) finds that in 2013 only a quarter of the 2.4 million tons of soy used in the Netherlands is responsibly produced. The social or environmental impacts of the production of the other three quarters of Dutch soy imports are not at all clear or accounted for. The target set by the Netherlands is to purchase 100 percent responsible soy by 2015. This will be almost impossible to achieve at this point.
Brussels, Belgium - 14 December
A landmark 1,193,652 submissions to the EU's public consultation on deforestation were handed over to the European Commission this afternoon, all of which demanded a strong EU law to protect the world's forests and the rights of people who depend on them. The one million+ submissions have made this the largest public consultation on environmental issues in the history of the EU, and the second largest ever.
The rising demand for soy is having negative consequences for people and the environment in South America. Both ENDS reminds Dutch actors in the soy industry of their responsibilities and is working with partners on fair and sustainable alternatives.
The world's forests are under threat. Remaining forests – havens of precious biodiversity and the lungs of the planet – are being cleared to make way for beef, soy, sugar and palm oil production, mining and other industrial activities, fuelled by increasing demand from Europe and other countries. But the good news is: you can help stop the destruction!
Recently Both ENDS and agricultural and horticultural cooperative Agrifirm organised a field visit for members of the Dutch Soy Coalition. The group visited two farmers in the province of Drenthe who have been participating in the first practice test to grow Soy in Netherlands. One of them is an organic poultry farmer and the other a conventional dairy farmer. Both use soy in animal feed on the farm. Tamara Mohr of Both ENDS was there and explains about this initiative.