EU unveils 'Action Plan' on Deforestation
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.
The launch of the Commission’s long-awaited Communication on stepping-up EU action to tackle deforestation on 23 July 2019 sets an important foundation for further action and opens the door to binding regulation of EU supply chains to eradicate human rights violations and deforestation from EU imports.
Voluntary market mechanisms have failed
“The Communication is a step in the right direction”, says Michael Rice, Natural Resources Governance Officer at Both ENDS, “even though it does not adopt our calls for a rights-based approach to supply chain regulation or propose binding measures to ensure EU companies and investors are not contributing to human rights violations or deforestation.
We know that EU demand for products linked to deforestation continues to grow, forests continue to disappear at a frightening pace and violence against communities defending their lands and forests is escalating. Voluntary market mechanisms have failed to stop these trends. The Communication contains a clear recognition by the Commission that the situation is serious, getting worse, and that the EU has an unavoidable role to play in finding solutions that work. This is very welcome.”
Moral and legal obligation
Both ENDS and partners have been campaigning hard to emphasise the dire state of decline of the world’s forests and the responsibility of the industrial agriculture industry in deforestation, displacement of local and indigenous communities, violence against land and environmental defenders and attacks on community leaders. “As a major consumer of deforestation-risk commodities, the EU has a moral and legal obligation to ensure its businesses and investors are not driving deforestation or facilitating human rights violations", says Rice. "This is especially the case in this age of climate breakdown when we must be doing everything we possibly can to preserve the Earth's remaining forests and protect the communities that are fighting to defend them."
Assessment of new binding measures against deforestation
First Vice-President Timmermans announced at a press conference that the Commission is “launching preparatory work for possible regulatory measures, which can be easily picked up and built upon by the incoming Commission” and that the Commission “will start assessing new regulatory measures to prevent EU consumption linked to deforestation and forest degradation.” This announcement came just days after Ursula von der Leyen was elected to become the new President of the EU Commission, who will replacing Jean-Claude Junker on 31 October 2019 together with other changes in Commission staff.
EU must play its role to stop deforestation and human rights violations
Timmerman’s statements on the Commission’s work towards new regulatory measures are promising, and raise expectations that the incoming Commission will continue to build upon the foundation set by the Communication with proposals for binding legislative measures. “Both ENDS and our partners stand ready and willing to support the Commission in developing new legislative measures and to ensure that the perspectives, insights and knowledge of local partners and communities is included” says Rice.
Both ENDS and partners have developed a range of targeted proposals to address both demand and supply side drivers of deforestation and human rights violations and presented these to the Commission in 2018, as well as providing detailed submissions on draft communication during its development.
For more information
Read more about this subject
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.
News / 14 June 2019
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.
Blog / 18 January 2019
Unambitious and uninspiring: the European Commission’s proposal for stepping-up action on global deforestationBy Michael Rice
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.
News / 15 November 2018
On Wednesday, November 14, Dutch Newspaper De Volkskrant published a joint op-ed by Both ENDS, Hivos, Greenpeace Netherlands and Witness about the deforestation in the Amazon region which is still going on rapidly, having disastrous consequences for the indigenous people who live in the area, for biodiversity and for the climate. The Netherlands is one of the largest buyers of Brazilian agricultural products such as soy and beef, and should ensure that deforestation, land grabbing and human rights violations do not occur in these production chains. Unfortunately, this is not at all the case yet.
Publication / 7 November 2018
Publication / 8 May 2019
Publication / 27 June 2018
News / 28 February 2018
Human Rights defenders from all over the world visit EU to call for strong measures against deforestation
This week, from 12 until 16 February, fourteen indigenous leaders and human rights defenders from forest countries came to the Netherlands to call upon Dutch policy makers to take serious action against human rights abuses, land grabbing and further deforestation in relation to large scale agriculture, timber logging and mining. The Dutch harbours of Rotterdam and Amsterdam receive enormeous amounts of soy and palm oil, both for the Dutch market and for further transport into Europe and elswhere.
News / 28 June 2018
Last week, indigenous leaders from various countries were in Paris to urge action on deforestation and human rights abuses at the multi-stakeholder meeting of the Amsterdam Declarations Partnership. The group, invited by Forests Peoples Programme and Both ENDS, presented a publication 'Supply chain solutions for people and forests' containing a set of practical recommendations from local communities on how to make supply chains more sustainable and fair.
News / 18 June 2019
Open letter from more than 340 organisations: EU must stop negotiating treaty with South American countries.
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.
Press release / 6 May 2019
Almost 100 candidate EU Members of Parliament have signed a pledge drafted and endorsed by European NGOs and prominent individuals in which they commit - once elected - to promoting policies to protect and restore forests worldwide and to recognising and securing forest peoples’ territories and their rights, including the rights of women, for generations to come. The organisers hope to get many more signatures before the EU elections, to make sure the new EU parliament will start treating these topics with high urgency as soon as it is installed.
News / 26 October 2018
The sixth High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was held at the UN Headquarters in New York in July 2018. The HLPF provides an opportunity to review global progress towards achieving the SDGs and for countries to present their own Voluntary National Reviews of the implementation of the SDGs. At this year's HLPF, SDG 15, known as the 'Life on Land'-goal, was under review.
News / 15 May 2018
Both ENDS and Forest Peoples Program have formally requested the European Parliament, Commission and Council and the EU Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, to consult indigenous and local communities impacted by EU trade in palm oil and other agricultural commodities in formal EU policy deliberations on these topics. Why did we decide to do so and what's it all about? Our colleague Michael Rice sheds some light on the matter.
Publication / 26 July 2018
Press release / 7 May 2019
Brussels, 7 May 2019 - In an unprecedented Climate Action Call published today, a broad coalition is urging European leaders to take decisive action to respond to the climate emergency. Hundreds of European cities, regions, businesses, youth and faith groups and civil society organisations working on climate, human rights, litigation, mobilization, sports and health call upon leaders to profoundly alter the way we run our societies and economies to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C.
Publication / 4 November 2009
Publication / 11 July 2019
News / 22 April 2013
Between 2010 and 2013, Both ENDS, within an alliance of Indonesian and Dutch organisations and universities, conducted a pilot project to improve the spatial planning in the district of Sanggau in West-Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo, Indonesia, to help local communities with the recognition of their land rights. We can show you a beautiful documentary about one of the villages in this district, Terusan.
Publication / 5 December 2012
Publication / 12 October 2018