Over 140 NGOs have demanded EU politicians come up with strong laws to stop deforestation and the destruction of nature.
They said the law is needed urgently and they want “soy, oil palm, beef, timber and coffee, corn, natural rubber, pigs, sheep, goats and poultry” to be listed in the legal text, among other things.
They said that “EU citizens do not want products driving forest and ecosystem destruction or human rights abuses in their shopping baskets” and that “Your choices will influence the fate of 80 per cent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity and shape the natural world that future generations inherit.”
And they added that a forest area the size of a football pitch disappears every 90 seconds because of EU imports alone, making the EU “the second largest importer of tropical deforestation after the USA”.
Newsflash obtained a statement from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Germany dated Tuesday, 18th October, saying that among other things, they want “the inclusion of a comprehensive list of products with a high risk of deforestation in the legal text”.
The open letter, which has been signed by 141 NGOs from all over Europe and addressed to the European Union’s (EU) politicians, is calling for “an ambitious EU law to stop the global deforestation and destruction of nature for which Europe is responsible”, according to the WWF.
The WWF also said: “The law is currently being negotiated in a trialogue between the EU Commission, the EU Parliament and the EU Council. It aims to ban trade in raw materials and products for which nature has been destroyed or human rights have been violated. The WWF warns that the law could be weakened in the trialogue.”
The WWF also said in its statement: “The letter is addressed to members of the EU Commission, the EU Parliament and the EU Council.
“In Germany, the undersigned associations addressed their demands to the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture.”
Susanne Winter, Forest Program Manager at WWF Germany, said: “We urgently need this law and we need it in an ambitious and effective version.
“Currently, a forest area the size of a soccer field disappears every 90 seconds for EU imports alone. This makes the EU the second largest importer of tropical deforestation after the USA.”
The statement also said: “Among other things, the signatory NGOs demand that the law contain a comprehensive list of raw materials and products to which it applies.
“In addition to soy, oil palm, beef, timber and coffee, corn, natural rubber, pigs, sheep, goats and poultry and their derived products are also to be included there.
“So far, only the proposal from the EU Parliament provides for this list. But even this does not cover all risky raw materials. Wooden products such as musical instruments have not yet been listed.”
The open letter said (in English): “EU ministers, commissioners and members of the European Parliament: the world is counting on you to adopt a strong EU regulation on deforestation-free products.”
The 141 signatories are calling on European politicians “to ensure the swift adoption of a strong and ambitious EU regulation on deforestation-free products.”
It also said: “As ‘trilogue negotiations’ on this law begin, we ask you to support a law that lives up to the promises of the European Green Deal and the Sustainable Development Goals and upholds the EU’s commitments on climate, biodiversity and human rights.
“This new law offers a historic opportunity to minimise the EU’s impact on forests and other valuable
ecosystems within its own borders and around the world, as well as on the countless Indigenous and local communities living in and protecting forest areas.
“Your choices will influence the fate of 80 per cent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity and shape the natural world that future generations inherit.
“In 2020, over 1.2 million citizens called for a strong law. In 2022, over 100 civil society organisations from around the world called for a strong law and over 206,000 citizens called on their MEPs to deliver a strong law. Recent polls in Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and The Netherlands confirm substantial public support for a strong new law.
“EU citizens do not want products driving forest and ecosystem destruction or human rights abuses in their shopping baskets. The overwhelming support for this law shows that it deserves prioritisation and swift adoption. The increasing impacts of climate change and severity of droughts, fires, storms and floods affecting Europe and countries around the world shows that there is no time to lose.
“Your deliberations will consider options of varying ambition. For this law to be effective, we urge you to agree a final text that includes the following best options on the table:
“1. A comprehensive list of commodities including, cattle, cocoa, coffee, soy, oil palm and wood, rubber, maize, sheep, goat and pig meat, poultry and the most derived products possible.
“2. Clear, robust and credible definitions set at EU level, including for “deforestation” and “forest degradation”, that effectively protect forests in and outside the EU.
“3. Immediate protection of ‘other wooded land’ and a time-bound commitment to extend protection to other natural ecosystems (like savannahs, peatlands, wetlands) within one year.
“4. Protections for internationally-recognised human rights, particularly the rights of Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and environmental and human rights defenders, and the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).
“5. Robust due diligence obligations for operators and large traders that require full traceability, based on geolocation, to all plots of land for all products without exceptions. Compliance should be confirmed in due diligence statements and the actions taken to comply should be detailed in periodic public reports.
“6. A limited role for third-party certification as ‘complementary information’ that does not absolve operators or traders of their due diligence obligations, as proposed by the Commission.
“7. Equivalent due diligence obligations for EU-based financial institutions.
“8. A strong and comprehensive enforcement framework that includes mandatory minimum compliance checks as proposed by the Parliament, dissuasive and uniform penalties, and strong substantiated concern and access to justice mechanisms.
“9. A cut off date no later than 31 December 2019 as proposed by the Parliament.
“10. Measures to support vulnerable stakeholders in producing countries, in particular to empower Indigenous Peoples, local communities, women, smallholders and civil society.
“We are all counting on you to deliver a strong, ambitious and effective law. We will be following your
deliberations closely and stand ready to support you in this vital effort.”
The letter is signed by 141 “civil society, smallholders’ and Indigenous Peoples’ organisations from 39 countries”.