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European Commission launches new platform to protect and restore world’s forests

The European Commission is taking a step forward in its work against global deforestation launching a new multi-stakeholder platform to help protect and restore world’s forests.

In addition to being a forum for exchanges, the platform is to serve as a policy-making tool, informing the Commission’s ongoing work on a legislative proposal to minimise the risk that products linked to deforestation be sold in the European market, planned for the second quarter of 2021.

“Forests are indispensable for the wellbeing of all people on Earth, and yet we are losing them at an alarming rate,” said the Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius. “The EU is determined to act to change this course, using all tools at our disposal to help protect the world’s forests. But we cannot do it alone. I hope this platform of most relevant stakeholders will be an excellent catalyser for cooperation to halt and reverse deforestation.”

Forests cover 30 per cent of the Earth’s land area, host 80 per cent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, provide essential goods and services, including climate and water regulation and give subsistence and income to almost 2 billion people worldwide. Protecting and restoring world’s forests is crucial for maintaining and increasing human well-being and putting our societies on to a sustainable path.

“One of the biggest drivers of forest destruction worldwide is the legal and illegal conversion of forests into farmland,” added the German Minister of Agriculture Julia Klöckner. “This is why we need to turn to agricultural commodities that are produced in a deforestation-free way. Food security and poverty alleviation have to go hand in hand with a more careful stewardship of forests. We all have a responsibility to protect forests – from industry, lawmakers up to consumers with their everyday choices.”

Deforestation is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions causing global warming. If deforestation was a nation, it would be the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, after China and the US.

The platform provides a forum to foster exchanges among stakeholders in order to build alliances, push for and share commitments to significantly reduce deforestation. Participants include representatives of EU Member States, top NGOs in the field of forest protection, industry organisations, international organisations and non-European countries, including the largest consumer markets outside the EU and some of the countries experiencing significant destruction of their forests.

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