The European Commission has committed to publish a legislative proposal to minimise the risk of deforestation and forest degradation associated with products placed on the EU market by June 2021.

This briefing outlines recommendations about what the proposed legislation should look like from a group of NGOs including Global Witness, ClientEarth, Conservation International – EU office, Environmental Investigation Agency, Fern, Greenpeace EU and WWF EPO.


In December 2020, more than 1 million people came together to call for ambitious legislation to give consumers confidence that the products they buy are not contributing to forest and ecosystem destruction or human rights violations.

To make this a reality, the Commission should develop mandatory product-based due diligence for all businesses, including the financial sector, provide strong enforcement mechanisms, and ensure that this legislation complements the EU’s sustainable corporate governance initiative.

They should also put measures in place to address the underlying drivers of forest destruction and human rights impacts linked to deforestation, through support for governments, civil society, smallholders, Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

Key Recommendations 

The European Commission should establish clear, comprehensive sustainability requirements for any deforestation and ecosystem-risk commodities, or any products containing them, that are placed on the EU market.

These requirements must address deforestation, forest degradation and the conversion or degradation of other natural ecosystems and human rights impacts. Companies and traders should publish reports about their supply chains for relevant products and actions they have taken to comply with the legislation’s requirements.

Financial institutions must also be subject to equivalent due diligence obligations to ensure that no financing is going to business activities that do not meet the sustainability requirements. 

Lastly, a robust enforcement framework is needed that should include:

  • Proportionate penalties which are stringent enough to deter non-compliance
  • A network of well-resourced competent authorities that proactively carry out checks and controls
  • Effective EU Member State complaint mechanisms and review procedures
  • Rights for third parties to seek redress before EU courts if they are harmed by any adverse impacts addressed by the proposal or by non-compliance with its requirements

The EU Commission has an opportunity to show global leadership by putting ambitious rules in place to stop European businesses and financial institutions contributing to the destruction of forests and other vital ecosystems around the world, as well as related human rights impacts. More than 1 million citizens will be watching closely to make sure this opportunity isn’t missed.