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One million plus people demand EU legislation to protect forests

More than 1.1 million people have urged the European Union (EU) to introduce due diligence legislation for companies in forest-risk supply chains, in the largest-ever response to an EU public consultation on an environmental issue

At a virtual handover ceremony in Brussels, European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans said he was committed to do something about the issue of deforestation, and the Commission would look at measures to ensure that products linked to deforestation would no longer be allowed on the market.

Individuals from around the world had responded to the EU consultation, demanding strong due diligence legislation to protect the world’s forests and the rights of people who depend on them.

A display of lanterns in the shape of a tree was unveiled outside the European Commission building in Brussels, with one lantern for every 1000 demands.

The record-breaking response followed a global campaign, led by WWF, Greenpeace, ClientEarth, Conservation International and the Environment Investigation Agency and supported by Global Canopy, under the #Together4Forests. 

Global Canopy’s Forest 500 lead, Sarah Rogerson said:

“All too often, the food we buy and the clothes we wear are linked to tropical deforestation. Companies have made commitments to end deforestation in their supply chains, but as our assessments show each year, companies are not doing enough to make those commitments a reality. The EU can lead the way by putting strong measures in place to ensure that companies take the steps needed to end deforestation in supply chains and to protect the rights of forest peoples.”

The EU consultation asked for responses on how to reduce the sizeable deforestation footprint of products placed on the EU market, with imports of agricultural and forestry commodities such as palm oil and soy associated with over 200,000 hectares of tropical deforestation between 2015 and 2017.

In a detailed response to the EU’s questionnaire, Global Canopy urged the European Commission to introduce legislation that not only protected tropical forests but also other important biodiversity hotspots such as the Cerrado savannah and Pantanal wetlands.

And we called on the EU to go beyond the proposals introduced by the UK government by requiring companies to carry out due diligence for all deforestation and vegetation clearance, not just illegal clearing, and to include human rights.

Crucially, we urged the EU to ensure that due diligence measures applied to all companies, regardless of size, and to also be extended to include the financial institutions who are involved in funding companies in forest-risk supply chains.

Read our full response here.

Photo: Greenpeace EU