Both ENDS

Press release / 14 December 2020

Record submissions to public consultation urge EU to act on deforestation

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.

The signatures were received by Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, and  Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries in an online event. The ground outside the European Commission's Berlaymont building was decorated with 1,193 lanterns, each representing 1,000 people who signed the petition.

Ester Asin, Director of WWF's European Policy Office, said: "For too long, the burden has been put on citizens to work out whether their shopping has contributed to deforestation. This call from over one million people can't be ignored. The EU has the power to help stop the destruction of the world's forests and other nature, like grasslands. It can do this by passing a new law which would get products linked to the destruction of nature off the EU market - and citizens' plates!"

Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, said: "We all will have to open our eyes to the fact that our consumption in Europe can lead to the destruction of forests elsewhere in the world, and at an alarming rate. We each need to make responsible and informed choices as individual consumers. And as a policy maker, you have my commitment to take strong action to tackle deforestation in all our actions."

Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said: "Fighting deforestation is an emergency, and we are determined to act. I am thankful and encouraged to see over a million people standing up to support this goal. This shows unprecedented awareness and concern. As European Commissioner, I am committed to tackle this challenge with efficient and mandatory measures under our European Green Deal."

The over one million respondents called for a new ambitious EU law to keep products linked to deforestation and nature destruction off the European market, and ensure that the production of such commodities (e.g. beef, soy for animal feed, cocoa, coffee and palm oil) has not led to human rights violations, including the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. Such a law should also apply to the finance sector.

#Together4Forests, a campaign led by WWF, Greenpeace, ClientEarth, Conservation International and the Environmental Investigation Agency, and backed by more than 160 environmental groups including Both ENDS, encouraged people to make submissions to the public consultation demanding the EU tackle the forest footprint of its consumption.

The EU's demand for products like beef, soy for animal feed, leather, coffee, cocoa, rubber and palm oil, is pushing the world's forests and nature to the brink. A powerful example is EU soy imports which, together with China, accounts for more than half of all soybeans exported by Brazil. EU soy imports are, however, more often sourced from "deforestation frontiers", like the Amazon rainforest and the Cerrado grassland [1], and a recent study estimated that as much as one fifth of EU soy imports from Brazil may have come from illegally deforested land [2].

 

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References:

[1] TRASE yearbook (2020): The state of forest risk supply chains, p.5

[2] Raoni Rajão, et al: 'The rotten apples of Brazil's agribusiness'. Published in Science on 17 July 2020

Contact:

Sophie Bauer, WWF Senior Communications Officer, Deforestation
sbauer@wwf.eu
+32 471 05 25 11

Anke Schulmeister - Oldenhove, WWF Senior Forest Policy Officer
aschulmeister@wwf.eu
+32 485 84 31 44

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