ProTerra Standard V5 and the European Regulation on deforestation-free commodities

The ProTerra Standard version 5.0 for Social Responsibility and Environmental Sustainability (PT v5) has been benchmarked against the EU Regulation on deforestation-free commodities (EUDR)[1] in September 2023.

While several of the articles of the Regulation are not applicable as they relate to obligations of member states and competent authorities or are administrative matters or internal responsibilities of organisations, a strong adherence is observed in PT v5 in relation to the said Regulations for all the applicable articles.

ProTerra Standard is a relevant tool to support organisations in achieving and maintaining compliance with regulations and fulfilling stakeholders’ expectations.

This is achieved twofold: firstly, ProTerra certification enables organisations to understand their supply chain risks and compliance gaps, helping them to prepare for the due diligence process. Secondly, it is a relevant tool for assessing and mitigating risks. This is achieved by preparing and implementing a Corrective Action Plan for the identified non-compliances. ProTerra Certification audits are conducted by qualified third parties who conduct an objective assessment of the supplier´s operations, including a documentation review, a review of satellite imagery for information on potential deforestation, an on-site inspection, and interviews with relevant personnel and stakeholders as needed. ProTerra requirements address the key environmental and social risks associated with agricultural activitities and food and feed processing, and therefore compliance with ProTerra is considered a risk mitigation measure.

Additionally, in some respects, PT v5 requirements go beyond the requirements of the EUDR, notably by requiring:

  • a stricter cut-off date. Under ProTerra, areas cannot have been cleared or converted into agricultural areas, or used for industrial or other commercial purposes, after 31 December 2008;
  • the protection of vegetated areas beyond the definition of forest, such as wetlands; swamps; floodplains; steep slopes; savannahs and others as defined by the High Conservation Values Resource Network (including, for example, areas of cultural heritage);
  • that deforestation is to be avoided in the entire farm area and not just in the areas where agricultural activities take place;
  • the existence of a Biodiversity Management Plan at farm level.
  • that organisations seeking certification must take effective action to restore degraded areas and/or provide suitable compensation for the lost ecosystems and their values if areas have been converted between 1 January 2009 and 31 December 2020. Please refer to the ProTerra Procedure for Compensation and Restoration.

Table 1 below details the adherence between ProTerra V5 and the applicable articles of the EUDR.

Table 1 – ProTerra V5.0 and EUDR (based on information available in September 2023)

EUDRProTerra Standard Version 5.0
Article 1: Subject matter and scopePT v5 is applicable to any agricultural commodity, including several of the products listed in the Regulation with the exception of cattle and wood. ProTerra also applies to “relevant products” as it covers the feed and food supply chain of agricultural commodities.
Article 3: ProhibitionPT v5 certification covers regulatory compliance and sustainability criteria related to the key risks associated with agricultural activities, including deforestation. A certified organisation therefore meets the requirements of Article 3 in relation to the commodities and products they buy.  
Principle 1 of ProTerra requires compliance with laws, international conventions and the ProTerra Standard. Principle 4 includes requirements associated with biodiversity conservation, effective environmental management, and environmental services while Principles 2 and 3 include requirements associated with human rights and community relations.
Article 4: Obligations of operatorsPT v5 has a requirement that operators maintain a chain of custody system (CoC) which is a relevant tool for communication and product/commodity compliance down throughout the supply chain.  The ProTerra CoC system has provisions for a segregated chain of custody.  Refer to Principle 10: Traceability and Chain of Custody.
Article 5: Obligations of tradersPT v5 is applicable to farmers (Level 1); traders, storage and transport (Level II); and processors (Level III), covering, therefore, the entire supply chain as needed.  Additionally, it has traceability and chain of custody requirements under Principle 10.
Article 8: Due diligenceThe implementation of the requirements under ProTerra helps to identify gaps and prepare for the due diligence. Additionally, the ProTerra certification audit is a due diligence assessment conducted by an independent and duly qualified third party that covers regulatory compliance and sustainability criteria related to the key risks associated with agricultural activities.  
The audit report and the PT v5 Certificate are evidence of the due diligence carried out in relation to the commodity/product intended for commercialisation in Europe. By holding a valid PT v5 Certification of its supply chain, an economic operator is eligible to create and submit a due diligence statement as required by the Regulation considering that the commodity/product complies with the requirements of Article 3. 
Article 9: Information requirementPT v5 certified organisations collect, organise and retain for 5 years, from the date of placing on the market, a set of information, if the product is intended for or produced in the European Union, that fully complies with the requirements of Article 9 (please refer to indicator 9.4.5), this includes geolocation of the plot of land and the geo-coordinates of the areas under certification.
Article 10: Risk assessmentPT v5 explicitly provides for the need for a risk assessment and requires compliance with EUDR under this topic (refer to indicator 1.4.1).
Article 11: Risk mitigationWhere organisations identify risks, PT v5 certification and the corrective action plan are understood as a risk mitigation measure and therefore PT v5 supports organisations in achieving compliance with this aspect of the EUDR.

[1] REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on the making available on the Union market as well as the export from the Union of certain commodities and products associated with deforestation and forest degradation and repealing Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 (31 May 2023).
[2] For details of the assessment approach please refer to item 6.3 “Certification Audit” and item 6.5 “Non-conformities and Corrective Actions” of the ProTerra Certification Protocol.