Thanks to global trade, Western societies are not only wealthy but have also access to diverse products. From diapers for our babies or diesel for our cars to the dressing for our salad – the movement of goods in a globalized world allows us to have products for consumption that would otherwise not be available. These can often be everyday products and items taken for granted, so that we don’t necessarily even think of their origins. For example, a typical home would have wooden furniture like tables or shelves. They, or parts of them, could come from wood harvested in Central Africa. Or a common meal could consist of pork meat, where the pork was fed with soymeal processed from soybeans grown in Brazil. Unfortunately, the farming or harvesting of many goods – especially those of biomass like wood or soy – can have negative impacts on the biodiversity of ecosystems, including our forests. As such, the wooden furniture we buy or the pork we eat could be associated with biodiversity loss. In other words, trade becomes the mechanism that links our consumption habits to environmental damage abroad. But, how could we benefit from trade and conserve biodiversity at the same time?
Author: Mathias Cramm
Have you ever thought about how the consumption of some of our favourite products can be linked to deforestation? Or how political decisions and policies can influence such linkages? The EU consumes significant amounts of products made from agricultural commodities, such as cocoa, palm oil, and soy, and the related agricultural expansion of these commodities causes vast forest loss in countries of production in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. Various trading companies operate supply chains across the globe and move the products to Europe for our consumption, making them important actors in controlling forest loss linked to agricultural products. In the coming years, new EU regulations will set increased obligations for traders in order to reduce EU market-driven forest loss. However, it is not sure how traders will react to the new regulations and how their decisions could influence the impact of the EU regulation to limit EU market-driven deforestation.
“Give the orang-utan a break…”, said the famous Greenpeace video in 2010 as part of a campaign against Nestlé, who was buying palm oil for…