Deforestation Free Legislation
In order to catalyze a global just transition towards economic sustainability, resilience and equity, we must reduce consumption in the over-consuming wealthy nations of the Global North. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (commonly known as the SDGs), make this a priority issue in calling for sustainable consumption and production patterns. But economic superpowers have failed to rise to the challenge.
Part of the consumption challenge can and must be met by reducing the sheer quantity of stuff we as a society consume. But a significant part of the challenge also lies in transforming global demand for the most unsustainable goods.
Across the world, governments spend an estimated $13 trillion annually — one-sixth of global GDP — in the procurement of goods. What if this money were to be directed towards driving sustainability? What if governments used their purchasing power to transform the way goods are produced – to make it more sustainable and ethical? And what if governments were to use their power to ban imports of products tied to the most egregious acts of environmental harm, including illegal deforestation and violence against Indigenous communities.
Two pieces of legislation being advanced in the U.S. aim to do precisely that:
The Federal Forest Act will require importers of forest-risk commodities to trace where their products come from and confirm they are legally produced. This would ensure that the products purchased by U.S. consumers are not contributing to the destruction of forests, human rights abuses, and other criminal activities.
The New York Tropical Deforestation Free Procurement Act and the California Deforestation Free Procurement Act would require all companies providing the states with products containing tropical “forest-risk” commodities like palm oil, paper pulp, tropical timber, rubber, cattle and soybeans to demonstrate that their production has not contributed to deforestation or intact forest degradation in the tropics. Covered companies would have to establish strict standards to protect forests and biodiversity, reduce emissions from plantations, and respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples whose lands are considered for plantation development. Under the proposed laws, companies will be required to provide precise details about the source of forest-risk commodities found in products that may be sold to the state—down to the plot of land they are grown on.
These deforestation free procurement bills are designed to drive transparency, traceability, and accountability in global supply chains. Imagine if the $13 trillion that the world’s governments spend on procurement were to be invested in deforestation free purchasing. It would, quite literally, change the world.
The New York Tropical Deforestation-Free Procurement Act passed by a bipartisan majority today in the New York State Assembly and will now head to the Governor's desk.
Liberian Goldman Prize Winner, Alfred Lahai Gbabai Brownell Sr, joined lawmakers and advocates in Albany today to urge the New York Assembly to pass The New York Tropical Deforestation-Free Procurement Act (S.4859/A.5682).
Lawmakers renew the push for a bill that will ensure New York state government practices don't drive deforestation or forest degradation.