We urge the European Union to combat deforestation with strong, binding regulation

Our Forests team has submitted recommendations to the European Commission’s public consultation on its proposals to combat deforestation and forest degradation, urging strong regulatory action reflecting the gravity of the threat to forests and climate worldwide.

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Orangutan forest loss palm oil

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Our submission calls for the European Union to develop an enforceable action plan, including binding regulation of EU supply chains and investment practices, so that products placed on the EU market do not cause deforestation, environmental degradation or human rights abuses.

Forests and other biodiverse ecosystems are essential for maintaining services such as clean water, combating climate change and supporting the livelihoods of many hundreds of millions of people – yet deforestation and forest degradation remain rampant.

Such new legislation should include defined sustainability criteria and mandatory due diligence to identify and mitigate risks so that trade and investments by EU-based financial institutions are not linked to these harmful activities.

Rubber tapper, Muara Tae3

Woman tapping rubber in Indonesia’s Muara Tae, a remote community whose ancestral forests were devastated by palm oil companies

The EU has already regulated on illegal timber but currently lacks any provisions to limit the impacts of its consumption of unsustainable (or illegal) commodities more widely, despite being a major global importer and despite commodity production being the biggest global driver of deforestation.

Existing EU and member state guidelines and voluntary industry tools and policies are insufficient to halt deforestation and environmental degradation.

We are calling on the EU to develop an enforceable action plan, including:

  • binding regulation of EU supply chains ensuring all relevant products placed on the EU market meet defined sustainability standards that exclude deforestation, environmental degradation and human rights abuses
  • similar regulation of EU financial products and services industries incorporating these same standards
  • increased coherence and implementation of other EU policies, including climate negotiations, bilateral coordination mechanisms, action to increase EU production and consumption of plant protein and enforcement of the EU Timber Regulation
  • encouragement of action in other markets
  • support for producer and trade countries to meet these goals.