Op ed from Swedish NGOs about the EU's law to tackle deforestation

25 abril 2022

Written by: Gustaf Lind, Isadora Wronski & Karin Lexén

Op ed from Swedish NGOs about the EU's law to tackle deforestation

This article was originally published in Swedish in the Altinget on the 5th April 2022.

Forests, savannahs and other valuable ecosystems are being rapidly depleted. Globally, an area of forest the size of a football field is disappearing every minute. This devastation is directly linked to what we consume in Europe. A new EU law could tackle the problem, but Sweden must refrain from weakening it, write the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, Greenpeace and WWF Sweden.

Forests are in alarming global state. The Amazon rainforest is now approaching the point where it could turn into a savannah, according to a study published last month in the journal Nature Climate Change. In 2017, the EU was responsible for 16% of deforestation from international trade, with 203,000 hectares of forest lost due to our consumption.

There's a big risk that the chocolate in your cookies, the chicken on your plate and the cardboard box your internet bargains are delivered in could be fuelling this destruction. Because of unsustainable and substandard supply chains, we are unwittingly destroying our planet. Even our Swedish forest ecosystems are being pushed to the limit.

However, EU governments, including Sweden’s, have a unique opportunity to change this. Right now, the EU is discussing new legislation, which will potentially reduce the impact of EU consumption on nature and human rights, and which can hold those companies and financial institutions responsible for it, accountable. 

Sweden, with ministers Anna-Caren Sätherberg and Annika Strandhäll, now has a golden opportunity to tighten up the law so that the EU's impact on deforestation and other nature degradation is reduced. Yet , rather than strengthening the proposed regulation, Sweden has been trying to weaken it.

Many stakeholders have been calling for this law for years, and in 2020 : more than a million people signed a petition demanding it.

Finally, in November last year, the European Commission published its proposal for the regulation  proposal. It was a step in the right direction, but contained a number of failings that need to be addressed if the goal of ending deforestation and nature degradation is to be achieved. Sweden has an opportunity here to push ahead instead of acting as a brake. The law should include the following: 

That no goods linked to deforestation, forest degradation or human rights abuses can be sold in or exported from the EU, and that the problems do not simply harm other ecosystems instead. 

Strong definitions of forests, deforestation and forest degradation to stop the conversion of real forests into tree plantations.

That internationally recognised human rights laws are respected, and that products sold within - or exported from - the EU, are not linked to any such violations. The rights of indigenous peoples and local communities must be respected, including the requirement to respect the right to free informed consent.

Sweden was one of more than 100 countries that promised to stop deforestation by 2030 at the last UN global climate summit in Glasgow in December, and it is now time to move from words to action and start delivering on that promise. 

By Gustaf Lind, Secretary General, WWF Sweden
Isadora Wronski, Head Greenpeace Sweden
Karin Lexén, Secretary General, SSNC

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