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09 June, 2022 Legal Update

Sustainability Update: June 2022

Sustainability Update: June 2022

Read the latest sustainability updates

EU: Public Consultation on Sustainable Food Systems

On April 28, 2022, the European Commission launched a public consultation period on its upcoming proposal on Sustainable Food Systems. It aims to gather opinions and evidence from all relevant stakeholders on key issues related to food system sustainability.
Key elements that the European Commission is considering to include:
  • General minimum standards to be met for foods produced or placed on the EU market and related food operations;
  • Horizontal elements for sustainability analysis in relation to regulated products in the food chain, complementing the existing ‘risk analysis’ principle;
  • Legitimate and proportionate requirements on sustainability for food imports in compliance with EU international commitments,
  • Provision of information on the sustainable performance of food (sustainability labeling), while ensuring consistency with other relevant EU labels (e.g., organic) and taking into account other relevant ongoing EU initiatives;
  • Minimum mandatory criteria for sustainable food procurement in schools and public institutions.
The consultation period ends on July 21, 2022.
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EU: Eurostat Publishes Report on Progress Towards the SDGs

The statistical office of the European Union (Eurostat) published on May 23, 2022, the latest report on “Sustainable development in the European Union, monitoring progress towards the SDGs in an EU context”.
The data gathered in the report shows the progress made by the EU over the last five years. This statistical overview is in line with the EU Commission priority areas, such as the Green Deal, the Digital Strategy and the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan.
The report states that the Commission’s NextGenerationEU recovery plan in response to the pandemic, as well as the reforms and investments under the Member States’ Recovery and Resilience Plans, will make a major contribution to achieving the SDGs in the EU region.
Key findings include:
  • Like in previous years, the EU continued to make the most progress towards SDG 16.
  • Significant progress was also made towards the goals of reducing poverty and social exclusion (SDG 1), the economy and the labor market (SDG 8), clean and affordable energy (SDG 7), as well as innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9).
  • Progress towards the goals in the areas of health and well-being (SDG 3), life below water (SDG 14), gender equality (SDG 5), sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11), reduced inequalities (SDG 10), responsible consumption and production (SDG 12), quality education (SDG 4), climate action (SDG 13) and zero hunger (SDG 2) was moderate.
  • The overall assessment of EU progress for partnerships (SDG 17) and clean water and sanitation (SDG 6) was neutral, which means that they were characterized by an almost equal number of sustainable and unsustainable developments.
  • Finally, a slight movement away from the respective Sustainable Development objectives over the past five years has been found for life on land (SDG 15), indicating that ecosystems and biodiversity remained under pressure from human activities. While both the EU's forest area and the terrestrial protected areas have slightly increased, pressure on biodiversity continued to intensify.

FAO: The State of the World’s Forests

Released in May 2022, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) biennial flagship report on the state of the world’s forests (SOFO) explores three intertwined forest pathways to achieve green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, while tackling climate change and biodiversity loss, among other multidimensional planetary crises.
The three pathways outlined in the report are:
  • Halting deforestation and maintaining forests, which could help avoid emitting up to 5.6 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) per year between 2020 and 2050, including about 14% “of what is needed up to 2030” to keep global warming below 1.5°C, and safeguard more than half of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity;
  • Restoring degraded lands and expanding agroforestry, which could boost agricultural productivity and cost-effectively remove from the atmosphere 0.9-1.5 GtCO2e per year between 2020 and 2050; and
  • Sustainably using forests and building green value chains, which would help meet the growing demand for materials and support sustainable economies.
To move swiftly along the three pathways, SOFO 2022 identifies starting points, which may include:
  • Channeling funding for recovery towards long-term policies directed at creating sustainable, green jobs and further mobilizing private investment;
  • Empowering and incentivizing local actors, including women, youth, and Indigenous Peoples, to take a leading role in the forest pathways;
  • Engaging in awareness raising and policy dialogue on sustainable forests towards simultaneous achievement of economic and environmental goals; and
  • Maximizing synergies and minimizing trade-offs between the three forest pathways and between agricultural, forestry, environmental, and other policies.
The report provides data on Brazil nut production and trade. Production is not economically feasible outside their natural habitat, the Amazon rain forest, meaning that all of the Brazil nuts traded worldwide are collected in this pristine forest, becoming a cornerstone of Amazon conservation.  
The report was released on the opening day of the XV World Forestry Congress in Seoul, Republic of Korea, which took place from 2-6 May 2022. And also, ahead of the 17th session of the UN Forum on Forests, convened from 9-13 May at UN Headquarters in New York, US, which discussed the implementation of the UN strategic plan for forests 2017-2030 (UNSPF) and considered forest-related multilateral developments.
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OECD: SDG Targets on the Short Road to 2030

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published on April 28, 2022, a report on the progress of its 38 member countries towards the SDG targets and the likelihood of meeting them by 2030. According to the report, OECD countries have met or are close to meeting 25% of the targets for which performance can be measured.
It also highlights the current “blind spots” in SDG statistics for OECD countries. The report titled, ‘The Short and Winding Road to 2030: Measuring Distance to the SDG Targets,’ finds that progress towards 21 targets is “way off track.”
Ten targets have been met, and another 18 are close to being fulfilled. Many of these relate to basic needs, covering areas such as: access to sanitation, fresh water and energy; reducing maternal and infant mortality; access to early childhood education; providing modern education facilities; and affording legal identity to all citizens.
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South Korea: Sustainability Trends in the Food Market

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published on April 22, 2022, a GAIN report highlighting Sustainability Efforts and Trends in the Korean Food Market. According to the USDA, an increasing number of Korean customers are making values-based consumption decisions and are willing to pay more for eco-friendly products. Consequently, Korean food companies are increasingly prioritizing environment, social, and governance factors.
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UN: Building Back Better from COVID-19 while Advancing the SDGs

Released on May 4, 2022, this report highlights strategies that countries could consider with a view to building back better from the COVID-19 pandemic while advancing the full achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The report offers analysis and policy recommendations to inform discussions at this year’s high-level segment of the Economic and Social Council. It has benefited from substantive contributions made by United Nations system entities and others, and is complemented by the report E/HLS/2022/_ on “Long term future trends and scenarios - impacts in the economic, social and environmental areas on the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals”.
The report outlines the UN’s efforts in implementing a three-pronged COVID-19 response strategy through:
  • strengthened health response under the Updated COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan;
  • a humanitarian response led by the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs; and
  • a transformative and sustainable recovery grounded in the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda led by the UN Sustainable Development Group. 

UN: Secretary-General’s Report Presents Pathway to Reach SDGs

On May 4, 2022, UN Secretary-General António Guterres issued a report that takes stock of recent technological and policy trends and their impacts on the achievement of the SDGs. It outlines a Sustainable Development Pathway (SDP) that would allow to realize the SDGs and global climate goals with the help of new technologies and policies that build on synergies and trade-offs among the SDGs.
Among the actions that need to be taken to deliver the SDGs and global climate goals “in the coming years and by 2050,” the report recommends:
  • using the Summit of the Future in September 2023 to explore scenarios such as the Sustainable Development Pathways to help guide efforts, policies, financial resources, and science and technology to help achieve the SDGs;
  • accelerating actions on SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy) by implementing the SDG 7 Global Roadmap and delivering on the Energy Compacts;
  • strengthening international cooperation on scenario analysis and science and technology solutions for the SDGs; and
  • encouraging the UN system to provide capacity-building support for the development of national sustainable development scenarios.

UNCCD: Global Land Outlook

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has released the second edition of its flagship report, ‘Global Land Outlook: Land Restoration for Recovery and Resilience’ (GLO2). The publication outlines various future land scenarios, and highlights the potential contributions of land restoration investments to climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation, poverty reduction, and human health, among other SDGs. GLO2 shares evidence-based strategies and “flexible pathways for countries and communities to design and implement their unique land restoration agenda”.
According to the report, four of the nine planetary boundaries, which define a “safe operating space for humanity,” have already been exceeded. Breaches related to climate change, biodiversity loss, land use change, and geochemical cycles are also “directly linked to human-induced desertification, land degradation, and drought.”
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