Companies call for strong EU law to halt trade of commodities linked to nature destruction

Posted on 25 May 2021

“The EU has a historic opportunity to help companies operating in Europe to achieve deforestation- and conversion-free supply chains”, they write.
Over 40 European companies are urging the European Commission to propose an ambitious law to address EU-driven deforestation and ecosystem conversion, in a statement released today.

The signatories, which include Lidl, L'Oréal and Ferrero, write:

“Effective EU legislation is urgently needed to tackle this problem – establishing a level playing field for more sustainable commodities and products to be placed on the EU market.”

The statement echoes the calls by WWF and other NGOs for a far-reaching EU law, which were also supported by more than 1.1 million citizens as part of the #Together4Forests campaign.

In 2017 alone, the EU was responsible for 16% of deforestation associated with international trade of forest-risk commodities including soy, palm oil, beef, cocoa and coffee. This was second only to China, according to a recent report by WWF.

Emphasising the big toll deforestation takes on nature, human rights and the climate, the undersigning companies also point to collateral impacts on EU economies:

“The continued destruction and degradation of nature directly and negatively affects agricultural production and other economic activities, impacting markets and human well-being. Unfair competition, based on products linked to destructive management practices, harms those companies committed to acting responsibly on the European market,” the statement reads.

Commenting on the statement, Anke Schulmeister-Oldenhove, Senior Forest Policy Officer at WWF's European Policy Office, says: “This strong call by business underlines that ambitious legislation is needed to keep deforestation and nature destruction out of our food. It will set clear rules for companies to tackle their environmental and human rights footprint, but also provide the legal instruments to hold businesses accountable that do not follow the rules. This will give the EU the opportunity to show global leadership in nature and human rights protection and to fulfil its commitments under the Paris Agreement.”

With a legislative proposal expected to be presented by the Commission this summer, European companies are calling for a clear legislative framework with mandatory requirements for due diligence, transparency and traceability, which also applies to the financial sector. In addition, they say the new law must not be limited to deforestation but also to the conversion and degradation of natural ecosystems, because limiting the scope of the law to natural forests “will exacerbate the already existing high pressures on other ecosystems.”

Anke Schulmeister - Oldenhove
Senior Forest Policy Officer
+32 485 84 31 44

Alejandra Morales
Senior Communications Officer, Deforestation
+32 488 84 98 05
The expansion of palm oil plantations is a major driver of deforestation.
© Chris J Ratcliffe / WWF-UK