The European Commission Communication “Stepping up EU Action to Protect and Restore the World’s Forests”, published on 23rd July 2019, is a welcome step forward in the fight against global deforestation. As a major importer of agricultural commodities associated with deforestation, the Commission acknowledges the EU’s responsibility to address environmental destruction and protection of human rights, proposing five different options.
Global Witness, with a coalition of environmental NGOs advocating for the protection of world’s forests, has put together a briefing that lays out a set of measures including the implementation of a new legislation that would regulate companies and financial institutions to tackle their role in global deforestation and therefore reduce EU’s footprint on the world’s natural ecosystems.
What we are calling for:
1. The adoption of 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. The introduction of 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. The strengthening of 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. The improvement of existing policy measures and their coherence: 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. The 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. The drastic reduction of 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.
Please click here for the full briefing.
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