EUDR Taskforce: EU, Malaysia Commit to Deforestation Action

Strategic partners commit to circular economy in wake of UN Global Biodiversity Agreement.

Wed 05 Jul 23


The European Union (EU) and Malaysia will continue discussing establishing an ad hoc task force to support the implementation of the EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR), as reported in the Malaysian-based Selangor Journal last week.

As reported by Wood Central last month, Indonesia and Vietnam both raised concerns with the EUDR – describing the new legislation as a “head-scratcher for small owners” and regulatory imperialism.

Under the new legislation, the EU has banned the importing and selling products like wood, beef, soy, palm oil, and cocoa associated with deforestation and infringing indigenous peoples’ rights.

Wood Central reports that talks are progressing in establishing a task force to support the implementation of the EU Deforestation Regulation.

Dr Florika Fink-Hooijer, the EU’s director-general of environment, said the bloc and Malaysia were strategic partners that shared a common objective to protect nature and biodiversity, in line with the commitments made at the historic biodiversity COP15 meeting in Montreal.

“I am delighted that the EU and Malaysia are continuing constructive dialogues and collaborating on the environmental front,” Fink-Hooijer said.

“We also have had the opportunity to continue the discussion on shared goals of halting deforestation and supporting the trade of sustainable commodities,” she said.

Dr Florika Fink-Hooijer, Director-General for the Environment of the European Commission, visited Indonesia and Malaysia on 26 – 28 June 2023.

Dr Florika Fink-Hooijer met with the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister (Photo Credit: Facebook – Fadillah Yusof)

Fink-Hooijer was in Malaysia to advance EU-Malaysia cooperation on environmental issues and as a follow-up to Malaysia’s diplomatic mission to Brussels alongside Indonesia last month.

Fink-Hooijer met with Deputy Prime Minister Fadillah Yusof, who is also Minister of Plantation and Commodities, as well as Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad and business leaders, producers, smallholders and environmental organisations.

On June 27 Fink-Hooijer met wth Mdm. Musdhalifah Mahmud, Deputy Minister for Food and Agribusiness in Indonesia.

“The EU, together with its member states, have long joined forces with Malaysian governmental and non-governmental stakeholders to raise the standards for forest and biodiversity protection while setting the course for a circular economy.”

Fink-Hooijer said the discussion with Nik Nazmi was on multilateral environmental cooperation between the EU and Malaysia and strengthening EU-Malaysia bilateral cooperation on biodiversity and the circular economy.

The meeting will be followed by thematic exchanges on plastics, wildlife trafficking and implementing the Global Biodiversity Framework.

The Global Biodiversity Framework is committed to conserving and protecting at least 30% of the Earth’s lands and oceans. It has set 21 targets, 10 ‘milestones’ for 2030 en route to ‘living in harmony with nature’ by 2050.

In December 2022, the UN member states formally adopted the Global Biodiversity Framework. Footage courtesy of @d2e

Meanwhile, Datuk Seri Fadillah Yuso wants “all parties to play a role in ensuring that Malaysia’s palm oil industry, which is the source of income for over a million people, continues to be accepted by the market.”

He said those involved in the palm oil industry needed to deepen and implement the principles set out in the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification scheme as an effort to ensure palm oil and commodity-based products continued to be accepted globally.

Last month, palm oil producers in Indonesia and Malaysia voiced concerns over the EUDR. Footage courtesy of @channelnewsasia

MSPO has three main principles – balancing human needs, environmental sustainability and profit generation.

Fadillah said although the negative campaign and accusations were answered through clear scientific studies that palm oil, with its high nutritional value, is suitable for use in various cuisines and products, the industry continued to face current challenges such as the European Union’s actions to introduce new regulations on deforestation-free products on the import of selected commodities, including palm oil.

Therefore, he said Malaysia made early preparations to ensure that palm oil production is based on principles set through the MSPO, which is mandatory for all industry players from 2020.

Since MSPO’s introduction in 2013, 661,844 ha oil palm plantations, or 81.10% of the private smallholder category, have been certified with MSPO certification nationwide as of May 31.

“Besides making the MSPO certification a success, the government will also remain committed to ensure that palm products can be marketed to all corners of the world through negotiations and engagement to correct the negative perception of palm oil,” Fadillah said.

Since the introduction of the Sustainable Palm Oil Certification in Malaysia in 2013, 661,844 ha plantations, or 81.10% of the private smallholder category, have been MSPO certified.
How the new EUDR Framework will work

The regulation, which the European Commission approved in May 2023, introduces a benchmarking system that assigns a low, standard, or high-risk level associated with deforestation and forest degradation to countries inside and outside the EU.

Footage courtesy of @PreferredByNature

This risk classification will guide the obligations of various operators and the authorities in member states to perform inspections and controls.

Consequently, this will streamline monitoring for high-risk countries and simplify due diligence processes for low-risk countries.

Authorities responsible for these areas must inspect 9% of operators and traders dealing with products from high-risk countries, 3% from standard-risk countries, and 1% from low-risk countries. This inspection aims to confirm whether they are effectively meeting the obligations stipulated by the regulation.

Further, these competent authorities will inspect 9% of relevant goods and products either placed on their market, made available, or exported by high-risk countries.

Lastly, the EU plans to enhance its cooperation with partner countries, focusing primarily on high-risk areas, including Malaysian Palm Oil.

The EU, partner countries and suppliers in the European markets now have 18 months to prepare for the introduction of the EUDR – expected to come into force in November 2024.


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