In its Communication on “Stepping up EU Action to Protect and Restore the World’s Forests”, published on 23rd July 2019, the European Commission recognised that the EU consumption represents around 10% of the global share of deforestation embodied in total final consumption of commodities such as palm oil, beef, soy, cocoa, maize, timber and rubber.
In this new briefing, NGOs indicate that this Communication is a welcome basis for the development of decisive EU action to protect and restore forests and other natural ecosystems whilst protecting human rights.
They highlight that implementing a comprehensive set of measures and initiatives, including new legislation, is essential to reduce the EU’s footprint on the world’s natural ecosystems.
In particular, NGOs call on the EU to:
1. Adopt new legislation that requires companies to conduct due diligence throughout their entire supply chain in order to identify, prevent, and mitigate environmental, social and human rights risks and impacts: supply chains linked to the EU market must be sustainable, free from deforestation, forest degradation and conversion or degradation of natural ecosystems and comply with international standards and obligations on human rights, including the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
2. Introduce due diligence requirements on financial institutions to identify, prevent, and mitigate environmental, social and human rights impacts: ensure that the EU finance and banking sectors are neither directly nor indirectly linked to deforestation, forest degradation, conversion or degradation of natural ecosystems or human rights violations.
3. Strengthen cooperation with producer and other consumer countries to address deforestation, forest degradation and conversion or degradation of natural ecosystems and related human rights violations.
Ensure consistency of EU trade policy with these objectives: the EU must guarantee the protection and restoration of forests and other natural ecosystems whilst defending human rights, ensuring good land governance, supporting local livelihoods and maintaining the cultural integrity of Indigenous Peoples, local communities and smallholders.
4. Improve existing policy measures and ensure they are coherent: better implementation of existing legislation is needed but also improved coherence to ensure EU policies do not create negative incentives for the environment or people.
5. Ensure implementation of the EU’s and/or its Member States’ international commitments: the EU should live up to all of its social and environmental commitments including on climate, biodiversity and human rights, and drive the global agenda on these issues.
6. Drastically reduce negative impacts of the EU food system on forests and other ecosystems: EU Action should create new incentives to promote sustainable food systems and diets. This includes reducing waste and pressure on the global food system stemming from EU consumption.