Policy briefing: Brazilian legal reforms and implications for the UK's proposed law on forest risk commodities
The UK Government has proposed a legal framework to tackle the UK's contribution to global deforestation. That proposal, on the “Use of Forest Risk Commodities in Commercial Activity", is set out in Schedule 17 of the Environment Bill, which will be debated in the House of Lords on Wednesday 15 September 2021.
Schedule 17 represents a crucial opportunity to decouple UK consumption from deforestation – a major global sustainability challenge. The approach that the UK will take has particular importance given the package of legislative proposals currently before the Brazilian Congress. Those proposals, supported by the Brazilian Government, seek to legalise millions of hectares of deforestation and legalise, including retrospectively, violations of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. If adopted, those reforms could spell the end of the Amazon rainforest and render the UK Government’s new law effectively meaningless in terms of deforestation in Brazil – unless it is improved.
Our briefing "Endorsing the end of the Amazon: Critical weaknesses in the UK Government's proposed forest risk commodities framework and how to fix them", prepared with the input of Brazilian organisations and supported by 20 civil society organisations and academics, outlines the legal reforms proposed in Brazil and provides detailed arguments as to why and how Schedule 17 should be strengthened. In particular, it focuses on the need to cover all deforestation (not just deforestation that is treated as 'illegal' in producer jurisdictions), the need to protect the rights of forest defenders and Indigenous Peoples, and the need to include cattle, soy and other non-agricultural commodities associated with deforestation as "forest risk commodities".