Due diligence on forest risk commodities

Closed 5 Oct 2020

Opened 25 Aug 2020


It is vital that the recovery from COVID-19 helps us to build a greener, fairer and more resilient global economy. Protecting precious forest environments is central to tackling climate change, ensuring that people have secure livelihoods, and protecting the natural systems on which we all rely. But these forests are under threat, primarily because of the expansion of agriculture. Responsible businesses, civil organisations and governments are working with farmers and land owners to improve the sustainability of these supply chains and protect forests. But many of the products we buy in the UK use ingredients that have been produced in countries where there is a high risk of deforestation.

We are launching this consultation to seek your view on whether the UK Government should introduce a new law designed to prevent forests and other important natural areas from being converted illegally in to agricultural land. The law we are proposing would require a relatively small number of larger businesses to ensure that the ‘forest risk’ commodities they use – commodities that can cause wide-scale deforestation – have been produced legally. This is because globally a large proportion of forest clearance to produce these commodities is not considered legal.  

Our proposal would make it illegal for larger businesses to use forest risk commodities that have not been produced in accordance with relevant local laws, and they would need to take steps (undertake due diligence) to show that they have taken proportionate action to ensure this is the case. This would set a clear requirement on businesses, and those who do not comply would be subject to fines. Our approach focusses on larger businesses as they have the influence to send a positive signal to producers.

Why your views matter

Recognising the importance of deforestation in supply chains, we established an independent taskforce called the Global Resource Initiative in 2019. The Global Resource Initiative considered actions the UK could take to make international supply chains greener and leave a lighter footprint on the global environment. They submitted their final recommendations to the Government in March 2020, which included a key recommendation that the Government should introduce a mandatory due diligence requirement.

This consultation is designed to inform the Government’s response to this recommendation, seeking views from a wide range of stakeholders in the UK and internationally on the principles guiding our approach, and understand the impact on business and other interests. This is not a final proposition and the goal is to ensure future primary legislation is designed in the right way.   

Please read the consultation document before responding, which is attached below in the 'Related' section. You can submit your response by using the online survey on Citizen Space. Alternatively, please email your response to Due.Diligence@defra.gov.uk, or post your response to: Consultation Coordinator at Defra, 2nd Floor, Foss House, Kings Pool, 1-2 Peasholme Green, York, YO1 7PX. Responses should be received by 11:59pm 5 October 2020.

What happens next

This consultation is now closed. See the summary of responses and the government's response

We received 63,719 responses to this consultation. Over 99% of the responses were supportive of the government introducing legislation to reduce deforestation.

Based on this consultation and the recommendations of the Global Resource Initiative, an independent taskforce, the government will introduce a new law through the Environment Bill to prevent illegal deforestation in the supply chains of UK businesses. The new law will also require that companies can demonstrate that they know where the commodities they use have come from and comply with local laws.

See the government’s response to the recommendations of the Global Resource Initiative.


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