Fairtrade issues statement on European Commission proposal on deforestation

Fairtrade has said it welcomes the European Commission’s proposal to create a market for deforestation-free products, including coffee and cocoa, in the European Union (EU). Any step towards comprehensive climate action must pass through binding legal framework conditions that transform the highest environmental standards into new, sustainable trade policies.

However, Fairtrade states that climate measures that exclude fairness and social justice from the core of their targets are measures that will once again fail to achieve real climate action.

Inequality, biodiversity loss, and the impacts of climate change are interconnected issues for the millions of smallholder families whose livelihoods depend on cocoa and coffee exports to the EU.

The new European Commission proposal to ban imports does provide market incentives for climate actions. But, Fairtrade comments, unless those incentives are accompanied by additional efforts addressing the structural injustices and systemic inequities that afflict struggling smallholder farmers, then the proposal will prove wholly inadequate. Simply put: deforestation will not be addressed by banning imports of cocoa and coffee from smallholder families living in poverty.

In its statement, Fairtrade further emphasises that “A just transition to deforestation-free production must be inclusive, incorporating pathways to living income and more equal value distribution for cocoa and coffee farmers and their families. Above all, the fight against deforestation must empower smallholder farmers and include them in the process of constructive climate action.

“Capacity will need to be built and systems put in place to enable smallholders’ cooperatives to play their role in providing assurance and retain the market access to the EU that enables their smallholder farmer members to feed their families. The efforts needed to ensure a just transition for smallholders are significant and will require investment, dialogue, and a sense of urgency from governments and businesses alike.”

Fairtrade says it looks forward to engaging with the EU in designing that just transition, facilitating an urgent dialogue with smallholder farmers, and working towards a greener future that embraces sustainable production, climate resilience and decent livelihoods for all.

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