Global civil society pushes for mandatory environmental and human rights rules in the EU
On 23 July 2020 a global network of NGOs working to strengthen corporate accountability for environmental destruction and human rights abuses, including Both ENDS, published an open letter to European Commission DG Justice Commissioner Reynders. The letter is a response to his recent commitment to propose legislation in 2021 on both corporate due diligence and directors’ duties as part of an initiative on sustainable corporate governance.
The letter is endorsed by European NGOs as well as indigenous peoples’ organisations and NGOs from tropical forest countries where the impacts of EU consumption of commodities like soy, palm oil and beef are felt the hardest.
In warmly welcoming commitment by the Commission, the letter calls on the EU to build a robust legal framework including new legislation on mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence requirements for EU companies, financiers and investors as well as new sustainability duties for directors and legal accountability for non-compliance.
Creating an explicit legal obligation on companies, financiers and investors to comply with their responsibility to respect human rights and the environment has the potential to ensure that European businesses and investors take active steps to avoid contributing to or facilitating the destruction of the environment of the violation of the rights of indigenous peoples or local communities. These obligations should include a corporate duty to respect indigenous peoples’ rights to land, self-determination and free, prior and informed consent - human rights recognised under international law, and should of course be adequately enforced and supported by sanction mechanisms.
Fragile global supply chains
Even prior to the COVID pandemic, the sustainability of EU consumption of commodities produced at industrial scale in tropical countires where deforestation, ecological destruction and human rights abuses are systemic was being increasingly questioned by European consumers and policy makers. In the aftermath of the COVID pandemic, the fragility of many global supply chains and the low cost of production on which they are viable have become more apparent.
Land ownership and local food production
The flow-on impacts of low-cost, large-scale production for local communities in production areas, like unreliable access to food and clean water, dispossesion of land, and an insecure livelihood, have also been compounded during the COVID pandemic. The emerging trend is that local communities who have retained their land ownership and local food production systems fare much better than those now dependant on wages from plantation companies dependent on export markets.
Balance between economic, environmental and social values
The new corporate governance framework has the potential to drive a transition away from cheap imports at the cost of people and planet, and refocus corporate decision-making around a genuine balance between economic, environmental and social values. In order to be effective, however, the new regulation must ensure that indigenous peoples and local communities in third countries affected by European investments and supply chains have access to effective grievance and remedy procedures – including direct access to remedy in European courts.
Both ENDS stands firmly in support of the need for mandatory environmental and human rights due diligence obligations for EU companies, financiers and investors, directors' duties to ensure those obligations are met, and civil and criminal sanctions for non-compliance.
For more information
Read more about this subject
Blog / 16 June 2020
In September 2019, the streets of Jakarta were filled with angry demonstrators protesting against the Omnibus Employment Law. The law will ease the rules for mining, make it much more difficult to hold companies liable for criminal acts and severely restrict the power of the national anti-corruption committee. At the moment, such protests are completely impossible in Indonesia because of the COVID-19 crisis and the associated lockdown measures. And Indonesian people already had few other means of exerting influence on decision-making and legislative processes.
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.
Press release / 14 December 2020
Brussels, Belgium - 14 December
A landmark 1,193,652 submissions to the EU's public consultation on deforestation were handed over to the European Commission this afternoon, all of which demanded a strong EU law to protect the world's forests and the rights of people who depend on them. The one million+ submissions have made this the largest public consultation on environmental issues in the history of the EU, and the second largest ever.
News / 11 September 2020
The world's forests are under threat. Remaining forests – havens of precious biodiversity and the lungs of the planet – are being cleared to make way for beef, soy, sugar and palm oil production, mining and other industrial activities, fuelled by increasing demand from Europe and other countries. But the good news is: you can help stop the destruction!
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.
Publication / 26 July 2018
News / 15 October 2020
Institut Dayakologi works to preserve Indigenous Peoples' livelihoods and cultures in West Kalimantan. One of their central goals is to gain ancestral land rights for Indigenous communities. This is not only essential for the security of these communities, but also for the forests and ecosystems on which they depend for their livelihood, identity, culture and customs.
Press release / 11 September 2020
100+ NGOs launch #Together4Forests urging EU action
Fires raging in the Amazon are started deliberately to make way for large-scale industrial agriculture – and EU market demand for commodities produced on former-forest land is adding fuel to the fires. Globally, the EU is responsible for over 10% of forest destruction through its consumption of commodities like meat, dairy, soy for animal feed, palm oil, coffee and cacao.
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.
Publication / 27 June 2018
News / 2 August 2019
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.
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.
Publication / 13 October 2016
Publication / 12 October 2018
Publication / 27 January 2015
News / 12 October 2018
After 15 years, the members of the Dutch Soy Coalition have decided to disband the coalition. A total of 16 civil society organisations have worked together for many years to put the negative impact of the production, transport, processing and consumption of soy on the agenda and to seek solutions together with other stakeholders.
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.
Event / 12 May 2019, 20:00 - 22:00
Europe's future. What does it look like and, more importantly, what kind of Europe do we want?
Blog / 12 May 2020
Post-corona economy: five recommendations for the Dutch government on achieving the SDGs and the goals of the climate agreement
By Daniëlle Hirsch and Maria van der Heijden
The social debate on the Netherlands' role in the global economic crisis is now in full swing. At the centre of the debate is the question: how can we compensate for the setbacks affecting the Dutch economy without losing sight of efforts to make international trade and production chains more sustainable? We – Both ENDS and MVO Nederland (CSR Netherlands) – are particularly concerned about what we hear in these discussions about human rights, climate and the environment. That these are 'luxury problems' which we have no time to address at this time of crisis. And this, while the Corona crisis is showing us just how closely our current economy is irrevocably intertwined with the pollution of the planet and is making people all around the world more and more vulnerable. In short, we have to make our economy more resilient to such shocks. And that means committing ourselves to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the goals of the Paris climate agreement. We therefore address ourselves first and foremost to the government.
The production of palm oil is causing social and environmental problems worldwide. Both ENDS is working to make the sector fairer and more sustainable and is promoting alternatives for palm oil.