The UK Government launched a consultation on 25 August 2020 seeking the views of stakeholders on whether they should introduce a new law aimed at preventing forests and other important natural areas globally from being illegally converted in to agricultural land, following a recommendation from the Government's independent Global Resource Initiative taskforce.
Although the scope of the new law is yet to be determined, it would require certain 'larger' businesses to carry out due diligence on the 'forest risk' commodities that they use (such as palm oil, rubber, soya, beef, cocoa and leather) – which are all linked to significant amounts of deforestation globally – to ensure that they have been produced in accordance with 'local laws'. It would be illegal for in-scope businesses to use commodities sourced in breach of local laws and they would face fines for doing so, or if they failed to carry out due diligence on their supply chains. The size of these fines are yet to be set. The focus on 'illegality' has been an early area of criticism, given some of the most extensive deforestation globally is conducted within 'local laws'. The consultation will close on 5 October 2020.
Read the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affair's Due diligence on forest risk commodities consultation document.