EU deforestation law cannot afford to lower level of ambition

Posted on 10 November 2021

55+ NGOs call on the European Commission to not weaken upcoming deforestation legislation in a letter published today.
Tensions are mounting around the forthcoming EU deforestation law. With just a week to go before the European Commission presents its legislative proposal, 56 NGOs from the #Together4Forests campaign are urging the Commission to not water down key elements of the future law. 

In a letter addressed to Commissioners Frans Timmermans and Virginijus Sinkevičius, the signatories report that the European Commission is discussing a number of additional suggestions for the proposal. These include: more exemptions from due diligence for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs); a potential “green lane” for certification systems; much less strict requirements to trace products to their point of production; and a weakened definition for forest degradation. 

Should these changes be integrated into the proposal, “it would drastically impair the EU’s potential to achieve its objectives and fight climate change and biodiversity loss”, fear NGOs.

Anke Schulmeister-Oldenhove, Senior Forest Policy Officer at WWF's European Policy Office says: “The EU has this one shot at eliminating deforestation from our market - if it gets this law right. We are however concerned about what we’ve heard: the Commission must raise the bar. It needs to demonstrate it is serious about addressing the EU’s environmental footprint and get the proposal off to a strong start.”

These recent developments come despite strong calls for far-reaching legislation by WWF and other NGOs, together with 1.2 million EU citizens as a response to the European Commission’s public consultation a year ago. 
 
“There are some very positive elements in the drafts we have seen, such as ensuring all products on the market are sustainable and the fact there are strong enforcement measures. However, these alone will not do the trick. From the beginning, the law must be as far reaching as possible, by protecting not just forests but also other ecosystems such as savannahs, and by covering all relevant products and commodities linked to nature destruction. And of course, this law must ensure what we consume in Europe does not come at the cost of the human rights of local communities and indigenous peoples,” concludes Anke Schulmeister-Oldenhove.

Contact:
Anke Schulmeister – Oldenhove
aschulmeister@wwf.eu
Senior Forest Policy Officer
+32 485 84 31 44

Alejandra Morales
amorales@wwf.eu
Senior Communications Officer, Deforestation
+32 488 84 98 05
Expanding agriculture feeding EU markets is destroying forests and savannahs around the world.
© iStock