Joint Op-ed: France’s Promise to End Deforestation is Endangered

This week, Mighty Earth published a joint op-ed with the French environmental organizations Canopée, Envol Vert, France Nature Environnement, Greenpeace France, Friends of the Earth France, Notre Affaire à Tous, Sherpa, and WWF France. The op-ed discussed the challenges and opportunities for France to live up to national promises of ending imported deforestation. Marking the 2 year anniversary of France’s commitment to a National Strategy on Imported Deforestation (Stratégie nationale de lutte contre la déforestation importee, or SNDI), this op-ed lays out a clear path to success.

The group of environmental associations denounces shortcomings in the implementation of the SNDI, and warns that in a few weeks, the commitment made by France in 2015 to help eliminate deforestation linked to the production of agricultural raw materials by 2020, will be at risk of having officially failed. Published in November 2018, SNDI placed France in a pioneering position in the fight against imported deforestation. Two years on, the lack of concrete changes on the ground constitute a cause for alarm, particularly in light of ongoing deforestation, worsening climate change, and deepening biodiversity loss.

After two years of status quo or incremental progress – often led by French industry and NGOs – it is urgent that the government finally act decisively. The SNDI cannot be based solely on the addition of voluntary commitments from companies. France must ensure the SNDI is concretely respected across the board, including by enforcing the law on the new “duty of vigilance” law. This means first and foremost ensuring that each company subject to the law, develops a specific action plan against imported deforestation. Second, the government must stop blocking proposals by parliamentarians regarding the exclusion of all palm oil and soybean products in biofuels. Third, the government must expedite setting up a solid mechanism for traceability and risk management, accelerate the transition to protein autonomy, and even develop actions in favor of reducing our meat consumption. Finally, a historic opportunity exists for 2021: to support the European Commission proposing ambitious and binding legislation to put an end to imported deforestation in the EU, based on increased transparency and corporate vigilance obligations.

Now is the time to clearly address the shortcomings of the SNDI, move from words to action, and rapidly make up for lost time to finally put an end to France’s complicity in deforestation.