Conservation International Joins Over 1 Million People Urging European Union to Act on Imported Deforestation

December 14, 2020

Brussels, Belgium (Dec. 14, 2020) – Today, more than one million people voiced their support encouraging the European Commission to enact a law that would prevent deforestation linked to the EU consumption of products like soy, palm oil, coffee and cocoa. The 1,193,620 engagements were collected as part of the European Union’s public consultation on “Deforestation and forest degradation – reducing the impact of products placed on the EU market”.

This massive support was mobilized through Together4Forests, an NGO-led campaign that made this public consultation the most responded to ever on environmental issues, and the second largest ever in the history of the EU.

The Together4Forests signatures were handed over today to Commissioner Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the EU Commission, and Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, in an online ceremony.

Herbert Lust, Conservation International-Europe managing director, issued the following statement in support of the movement:

“This wave of public support cannot be ignored. More than one million people have chosen to stand up for our forests, nature and the rights and well-being of people who depend on them.

“We are humbled by the scale of mobilization. This shows that the deforestation linked to the products we consume daily is not invisible to consumers – people want to do better. The European Union has the opportunity to act as a global leader by passing comprehensive legislation that would effectively prevent its imported deforestation. Setting an example for the rest of the world.

“The Commission now has a strong base on which to take action given the historic amount of public engagement that has taken place. There is widespread recognition that preventing deforestation is not only the responsibility of the governments where forests still stand, but also the responsibility of those who consume products that have an impact on forests outside their borders. 

“The EU consumption of products like beef, soy, coffee, cocoa, and palm oil, is responsible for about 10% of global deforestation. We encourage the European Union to develop ambitious legislation that goes beyond addressing illegal deforestation on the supply side and levels the playing field between companies, so that they all demonstrate their products are not linked to deforestation through due diligence.

“We hope to see human rights included at the heart of the future law, in particular the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities. Indigenous peoples and local communities manage more than 25% of the world’s lands and their livelihoods depend on healthy forests and ecosystems.

“European Union leadership on this critical issue will not only have a positive impact on the world’s forests and humanity, but it will also help limit global warming and protect Earth’s biodiversity. It’s a win-win solution for more than one global crisis and we look forward to providing our support to move the legislative process forward.”

The above recommendations are further detailed here, in Conservation International’s formal response to the public consultation.

#Together4Forests, a campaign led by the World Wildlife Foundation, Conservation International, Greenpeace, ClientEarth and the Environmental Investigation Agency helped raise awareness of the public consultation process. The campaign was supported by more than 150 environmental groups.

About Conservation International

Conservation International works to protect the critical benefits that nature provides to people. Through science, partnerships and fieldwork, Conservation International is driving innovation and investments in nature-based solutions to the climate crisis, supporting protections for critical habitats, and fostering economic development that is grounded in the conservation of nature. We work in 30 countries around the world, empowering societies at all levels to create a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable planet. Follow Conservation International's work on Conservation NewsFacebook, TwitterInstagram and YouTube.