EPOA reaction on the EC Proposal: Effectively banning products produced, extracted or harvested with forced labour
The European Palm Oil Alliance (EPOA) supports initiatives and projects committed to sustainable palm oil in Europe. Besides saving the environment and ending deforestation, producing palm oil with respect for human rights is a crucial pillar to achieve a fully sustainable supply chain. EPOA members also include a full scope of human rights topics in their supply chain due diligence work. This includes the challenges of forced labor, children’s rights and women rights violations. We consider it crucial that the upcoming legislation is looking carefully at existing certification and industry schemes. These contain principles and criteria that aim to prevent, mitigate and address human rights abuses and social issues in the palm oil sector and are based on UN Guidelines on Business and Human rights. There are for example clear requirements relating to labour standards and working conditions, including the right of workers to freedom of association. Furthermore, traceability should be in line with the specific commodity and local circumstances. A risk-based approach based on current due diligence practice should be allowed. Any regulation should not solely be looking at banning certain products on the EU market, but also study carefully any counterproductive effects this may have on both the producers and the downstream market.
EPOA is looking forward to contribute to the upcoming discussions that should lead to a workable and effective regulation preventing forced labour in supply chains.