Sustainability and smallholder concerns: Palm oil producing nations question EU’s deforestation ‘workstream model’

The EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) Ad Hoc Joint Task Force’s (JTF) has held two meetings so far, with the most recent being in February 2024 hosted by the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) in Malaysia.

This featured the launch of a dedicated workstream model to look into the various issues raised by producer countries regarding the EUDR.

A primary discussion point at the meeting was that of sustainability and traceability surrounding the five commodities set to be impacted by the EUDR – cocoa, rubber, timber, coffee and most prominently, palm oil.

The five workstreams that were laid out at the end of the meeting focused on smallholder inclusion; relevant certifications schemes especially the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) and Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certifications; traceability systems including Malaysia’s Sawit Intelligent Management System (SIMS) and Indonesia’s National Dashboard for Commodities; deforestation-related scientific data; and the protection of privacy data.

But although this has marked the beginning of what is likely to be a long-term, complicated evaluation of EUDR relations with producer markets, leaders from both Indonesia and Malaysia have already clearly outlined what is needed from the EUDR in order to ensure trade remains viable for both sides.

“Malaysia has repeatedly acknowledged the EU’s right to implement the EUDR [and made efforts to] align these regulations with Malaysia’s existing legal, administrative, and supply chain systems,” ​Malaysia Deputy Secretary General (Plantation & Commodities) Dato’ Zailani Bin Haji Hashim told the floor.