#Together4Forest: the signatures are now in the hands of the European Commission

Record submissions to public consultation urge EU to act on deforestation

Medforval participated in the #Together4Forest campaign, a call to action to protect forests worldwide, and we are very happy that the campaign gained such a record-breaking accomplishment. #Together4Forests, led by WWF, Greenpeace, ClientEarth, Conservation International and the Environmental Investigation Agency, and backed by more than 160 environmental groups, encouraged people to make submissions to the public consultation demanding the EU tackle the forest footprint of its consumption. Medforval hosted the campaign, which ended on the 10th of December, on its website and invited its larger network to sign the petition.

It was a huge success. A landmark 1,193,652 submissions to the EU’s public consultation on deforestation were handed over to the European Commission yesterday afternoon, all of which demanded a strong EU law to protect the world’s forests and the rights of people who depend on them. The one million+ submissions have made this the largest public consultation on environmental issues in the history of the EU, and the second largest ever.

The signatures were received by Commissioner Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the EU Commission, and Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries in an online event. The ground outside the European Commission’s Berlaymont building was decorated with 1,193 lanterns, each representing 1,000 people who signed the petition.

Ester Asin, Director of WWF’s European Policy Office, said: “For too long, the burden has been put on citizens to work out whether their shopping has contributed to deforestation. This call from over one million people can’t be ignored. The EU has the power to help stop the destruction of the world’s forests and other nature, like grasslands. It can do this by passing a new law which would get products linked to the destruction of nature off the EU market – and citizens’ plates!”

Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, said: “We all will have to open our eyes to the fact that our consumption in Europe can lead to the destruction of forests elsewhere in the world, and at an alarming rate. We each need to make responsible and informed choices as individual consumers. And as a policy maker, you have my commitment to take strong action to tackle deforestation in all our actions.”

Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said: “Fighting deforestation is an emergency, and we are determined to act. I am thankful and encouraged to see over a million people standing up to support this goal. This shows unprecedented awareness and concern. As European Commissioner, I am committed to tackle this challenge with efficient and mandatory measures under our European Green Deal.”

The over one million respondents called for a new ambitious EU law to keep products linked to deforestation and nature destruction off the European market, and ensure that the production of such commodities (e.g. beef, soy for animal feed, cocoa, coffee and palm oil) has not led to human rights violations, including the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. Such a law should also apply to the finance sector.

The campaign succeeded in reaching many countries around the world, both EU and non EU. More specifically, 867883 signatures came from EU countries, while 325737 signatures from countries outside the EU. Moreover, the following figures show the number of petitioners coming from all the Medforval’s member sites countries. 

Country Number of Signatures
France 119192
Spain 65934
Italy 76097
Portugal 12545
Greece 18342
Bosnia Herzegovina 120
Montenegro 80
Turkey 1692
Jordan 160
Lebanon 142
Morocco 1168
Tunisia 359

For more information: Isabella Vannucchi – isabella.vannucchi@istituto-oikos.org 

Photo: ©Greenpeace 2020

15 December 2020