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Addressing the Big 4 Drivers of Deforestation: 5 & 6 May, Bonn (Germany)

5 May 2018 to 6 May 2018
Bonn, Germany

An international workshop and skillshare addressing the trade in and overconsumption of the four main drivers of forest loss: beef, soy, palm oil and wood


The High Level Political Forum (HLPF) in July 2018 will discuss Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15 on biodiversity, which includes a target to halt all deforestation by 2020. However, it is broadly acknowledged that meeting this target will be impossible unless the main drivers of forest loss are addressed. The HLPF will also discuss SDG12 on sustainable consumption and production, making it an excellent opportunity to highlight the links between overconsumption and forest loss, and the contradictions between the continued growth of international trade in commodities and sustainable development.

The workshop will focus on the impact of commodity trade in, and overconsumption of, four key commodities – beef, soy, palm oil and wood (for bioenergy, paper and timber). These four commodities are by far the leading causes of deforestation and forest degradation in the world.  Beef is now recognised to be the worst deforestation culprit, and a major cause of climate change. Soy production has been expanding as a result of its use in the livestock sector as animal feed, turning it into another leading cause of forest loss. The increasing demand for wood from the bioenergy and paper industries, and the increasing demand for palm oil for biodiesel and use in processed foods, are causing huge swathes of forests to be replaced by monoculture plantations. Palm oil is second only to beef in its climate impacts and is causing serious deforestation in an increasing number of countries. Forest loss also drives climate change, as forests store immense amounts of carbon that is released to the atmosphere when they are destroyed and replaced by monoculture plantations.

Many IPOs, NGOs and social movements have begun active campaigns to halt the destruction caused to forests by the beef, soy, wood, and palm oil industries. But to date, there has been little exchange between these campaigns. There is also a lack of analysis on the underlying causes of these commodities and the impacts they have, such as trade liberalization policies and agreements. Very often, it is the trade in these commodities that facilitates overconsumption and thus overproduction, and the forest loss that is caused in the process. The proposed trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur, for example, is likely to frustrate any attempt to reduce the export of beef and soy from South America, despite the growing recognition that these exports are a leading cause of deforestation and climate change.

The objectives of the workshop are:

1) To deepen understanding and analysis of the role that beef, soy, wood and palm oil play as drivers of forest loss; and to understand the role of trade policies and agreements, as well as the impacts of the corporate take-over of environmental policies, which in turn promote overconsumption;

2) To explore the demands of rightsholders in key countries affected by these drivers, and the alternatives that are proposed by women, Indigenous Peoples and local communities;

3) To exchange experiences and lessons learned from campaigns to address the four main drivers of forest loss; and to develop ideas for innovative public awareness raising and advocacy campaigns that support rights-based, holistic and socially just solutions, and target the real causes of deforestation.


Download the draft agenda