Today, more than 340 organisations from both South America and Europe, including Both ENDS, have sent a joint open letter to European Union leaders calling for the EU to cease negotiations on the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement. The organisations and their constituencies are seriously concerned about increasing violations of indigenous human rights and damage to nature and the environment in Brazil.
The EU is still one of the world’s largest importers of deforestation: EU demand for commodities like soy, palm oil, beef, coffee and cacao requires millions of hectares of tropical rainforest to be cleared. This deforestation has significant biodiversity and climate impacts, and is often linked to human rights violations and violence against local communities and indigenous peoples. Both ENDS and partners have been actively lobbying the EU Commission to adopt a robust action plan to address and prevent human rights violations and deforestation ‘embodied’ in EU imports of agricultural commodities.
Last Thursday June 13, Rahmawati Retno Winarni of TUK, an Indonesian partner organisation of Both ENDS, presented a symbolic tree and an appeal to the Dutch Minister of Agriculture Carola Schouten, also on behalf of 10 NGOs. The joint NGOs are pushing the EU, including the Dutch government, for strict EU legislation to prevent the destruction of forests and ecosystems and to protect human rights.
After five years of equivocation the European Commission has proposed a ‘roadmap’ for stepping-up EU action to address its contribution to global deforestation. Despite the escalating impact of EU trade in forest-risk commodities, regardless of repeated calls from the European Parliament for regulatory measures and contrary to the conclusions of the Commission’s own feasibility study in support of legislative intervention, the Commission has ruled-out out any new initiatives, let alone any legislative measures. The Commission’s solution to this complex problem: policy coherence.
Two weeks ago, the Monsanto Tribunal took place in The Hague. With this civil tribunal, activists from all over the world aim to add 'ecocide' as a crime in international laws. Zinaba Rasmane from Burkina Faso states that "currently we can't sue multinationals like Monsanto in our country for the damage they are causing."
Covering an area of 5.5 million km², the Amazon rainforest is the largest rainforest in the world. At least 12% of the forest has been lost in the last decades, and deforestation is still continuing at a rapid pace. Illegal logging, land grabbing and intimidation for agriculture, animal husbandry and mining are daily business, and impunity rules. Recent developments, such as the election of the new Bolsonaro government in Brazil, make the future of the Amazon region and the people living there even more uncertain than it already was.