The EU’s forthcoming legislative proposal to tackle consumption driving global deforestation should not exclude the people who own, inhabit, depend on, and defend the world’s forests. 

Our joint briefing with ClientEarth explains why and how specific human rights requirements should be integrated in the EU’s forthcoming legislative proposal that aims to minimize the risk of deforestation associated with products placed in the EU.

Deforestation Brazil

An area of deforestation on the border of the Amazon rainforest burned down to produce charcoal and to grow soybeans or raise cattle. Eduardo Martino / Panos

Key recommendations

To ensure the quality and reliability in operators’ assessments of whether their forest and ecosystem risk commodities can be placed on the EU market, the European Commission legislative proposal should specify the risks on which operators must conduct due diligence.

In addition to deforestation, forest degradation but also ecosystem conversion, these risks should include the actual and potential risk of adverse impacts on human rights linked to the production, harvesting and extraction of the forest and ecosystem risk commodities in their supply chain.

Specifically, the operators should be obliged to check on risks that violate: 

  • Human rights recognised under international law, in particular the rights of Indigenous Peoples and other customary rights-holders;
  • Customary and other legitimate tenure rights held pursuant to traditions, custom, or special dependency on and attachment to land, and 
  • Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other customary rights-holders to give or withhold their free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) to the commencement of any activity that may affect their rights, resources, territories, livelihoods, or food security, including as described in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.