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EU Drivers: NGO Statements

Tackling deforestation and forest degradation: a case for EU action in 2017

This statement outlines eight NGOs' vision for an Action Plan to Protect Forests and Protect Rights. It proposes new measures that build on and strengthen governmental and corporate commitments for zero deforestation and respect for community rights.

PDF icondeforestation.pdf472.11 KB

NGOs call on MEPs to vote in favour of the own initiative report on Palm Oil and Deforestation of Rainforests

Twelve NGOs have come together to ask MEPs to vote in favour of the own initiative report on Palm Oil and Deforestation of Rainforests on 4 April. The NGOs particularly welcome the call for an EU Action Plan on Deforestation and Forest Degradation on the grounds that as a major consumer and a hub of international finance, the EU has a special responsibility. The NGOs believe the own initiative report takes the EU one step closer towards regulatory action to remove deforestation from the EU’s supply chains and to stop banks and other financial institutions funding deforestation. The NGO letter comes out at the same time as a letter from palm oil producing countries, asking MEPs to reject the own initiative report.

Civil Society Statement on the Reform of European Agricultural Policies: Good Food, Good Farming – Now

A Common Statement on the Reform of European Agricultural Policies from civil society organisations ahead of today's meeting on Monday 6 March 2017.

The Statement is co-signed by 137 European civil society organisations from 25 EU countries, representing environmental and social justice networks, organic farmers, pastoralists, peasants, sustainable forestry groups, health groups, animal welfare organisations, consumer rights bodies, development, fair-trade, cultural heritage and rural development organisations, consumer co-operatives, sustainable tourism and crafts associations.

In light of the upcoming discussions on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy post 2020, we call on EU Member States to radically reform agricultural policies so that they can enable a transition towards a food and farming system which supports fair and diverse food and farming economies, respects the environment and animal welfare, ensures its meat and animal feed are free from illegal deforestation, supports citizens’ health, and is publicly accountable.

Letter to Commissioner Hogan re: commitment to promote meat consumption

Twelve NGOs have written to the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development to express concerns about his commitment to invest in promoting meat consumption in Europe and European beef in foreign markets.

Fern's input to the EU Consultation on revising the European Consensus on Development

Fern's input into the European Commission consultation on how development policy, in the context of EU external action as foreseen by the Lisbon Treaty, should respond to the range of landmark 2015 summits and conferences, and also to the rapid changes happening in the world.

PDF iconFern response to consultation.pdf107.78 KB

Letter to agriculture ministers for European Council meeting on FLEGT

This letter to agricultural ministers thanks them for their actions to control illegal logging and encourages them to ensure all forest risk commodities’ supply chains consist of only legally and sustainably sourced products, free from deforestation, and develop an EU Action Plan on deforestation and forest degradation, to ensure policy coherence across different sectors.

It is available in German, English, French and Spanish.

Commission urged to review European food and farming system

Around 100 organisations, including Fern, have signed an open letter to the President of the European Commission (EC), Jean-Claude Juncker, calling on the EC to consider carrying out a review of what they call the “largely broken” European food and farming system. They added that the Common Agricultural Policy seems “not equipped to address the fundamental challenges that Europe is facing in this sector".

Read the Commission's response to the letter.

Fern has put its name to the letter because the CAP fails to take into account the devastating impact Europe’s policies and practices are having on forests and forest communities around the world.

The EU is the world’s biggest importer and exporter of food and agricultural products, and its meat and dairy products are dependent on protein feed imports; the EU imports about 70 per cent of its protein-rich animal feed, a figure rising to 97 per cent for soya-based bean meal.

These protein feed imports cause serious problems in their areas they are produced; they can lead to forced evictions and displacement of small-scale farmers and indigenous people, loss of employment, loss of biodiversity and increased food insecurity.

Feed and food production are also a major cause for deforestation. Between 1990 and 2008, crops and livestock imported by the then 27 EU Member States accounted for almost 36 per cent of all deforestation in products traded between regions – or 90,000 square kilometres of deforested land.

In September 2014, the non-profit group Forest Trends concluded that half of all tropical deforestation since 2000 has been due to illegal conversion of forests for commercial agriculture.

Change in forest area 1990 vs. 2015, in thousands of square kilometres

The main food items produced on land where forests have been cleared for agriculture and imported to the EU include, but are not limited to: beef and soy from Brazil; soy from Argentina and Paraguay; and palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia.

The soy beans are destined largely for livestock fodder; while the palm oil is a key ingredient for food and drug products or other biofuel production.

While land used for oil palm plantations has increased by 120 per cent between 1992 and 2009, that used to grow soy beans grew by 75 per cent. In many or most cases they are grown on industrial-scale farms established by the clear-cutting or burning of vast areas of tropical forest.

The fact that the CAP fails to take into account its impact on non-EU countries shows a neglect for the EU’s international responsibilities, in line with the EU's Policy Coherence for Development commitments, designed to ensure the EU’s trade policies do not harm or frustrate the development of agri-food sectors in third countries.

While the European Union is already looking at how to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 12 of halving per capita food waste, more concerted and coherent action is needed. All policy areas need screening, and one of the most important is the Common Agricultural Policy.

PDF iconNGO_letter_CAP1.41 MB


Most recent publications

Blog: How can EU policies halt deforestation?

By Nicole Polsterer

In the five years between 2010 and 2015, EU consumption raized an area of forests the size of Portugal. In 2012 alone, the EU imported EUR 6 billion of soy, palm, leather, and beef produced on forests illegally converted to agricultural land. So how can EU policies ensure that we, as EU citizens and consumers, are not complicit in human rights abuses and deforestation, just by eating beef, using shampoo or filling up our cars with biofuels?

Recommendations for an EU Action Plan to Protect Forests and Respect Rights

Keeping forests standing and restoring ecosystems is essential if the world is to meet biodiversity objectives and the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.

PDF iconinternet version.pdf1.94 MB

Tackling deforestation and forest degradation: a case for EU action in 2017

This statement outlines eight NGOs' vision for an Action Plan to Protect Forests and Protect Rights. It proposes new measures that build on and strengthen governmental and corporate commitments for zero deforestation and respect for community rights.

PDF icondeforestation.pdf472.11 KB

Drawing out links between the Common Agricultural Policy, soy, and deforestation in South America

The European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is fuelling tropical deforestation, according to a new report published by Fern at an event in the European Parliament yesterday. The event was hosted by MEP Maria Noichl (pictured, above), and chaired by Monika Hoegen.

Agriculture and deforestation SUMMARY REPORT

The EU Common Agricultural Policy, soy, and forest destruction

Proposals for reform - SUMMARY

The biggest cause of forest loss – accounting for around 70 per cent – is agricultural deforestation, notably for beef, soy, palm oil and commercial timber. Soy ranks as the second largest agricultural driver of deforestation after cattle products.

This 20 page summary report outlines the key findings and recommendations that emerged from a detailed study of the linkages between the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the expansion of soybean cultivation, which has been the largest source of agricultural deforestation over which the EU has a direct influence.

Agricultural commodity consumption in the EU - Soy

An area of forest the size of Portugal was lost globally between 2010 and 2015 because of EU consumption of commodities grown on deforested land, much of it illegal. Such destruction often violates the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples, causes massive biodiversity loss, and contributes to climate change. Fern is calling for an EU Action Plan to ensure imports of forest-risk commodities are legally sourced and ecologically viable.

This is the second in a series of background notes on agricultural commodities.

It will be of particular interest to journalists and those looking for an introduction to the topic.

To read a report on the EU Common Agricultural Policy, soy and deforestation click here