Press release: 05 December 2022

Over 140 international activists, music, film and art legends urge EU leaders to uphold Indigenous rights in major new deforestation law

Emma Watson, Sienna Miller, Gillian Anderson and over 140 activists and artists across the world have urged European Union decision-makers to respect Indigenous Peoples’ rights as they prepare to agree on a ground-breaking new law today to end global deforestation.

The stars join Barbra Streisand and Mark Ruffalo to add their signatures to an open letter calling on EU leaders to show global leadership by supporting an ambitious law, which will stop products linked to nature destruction from being sold in European markets.

Belgian youth activist Anuna De Wever, Xiye Bastida from Mexico and Txai Suruí from Brazil are also backing the letter, which was sent last month but has now gained even more support ahead of today’s final negotiation as some countries are pushing to remove protections for Indigenous rights.

Actors Olivia Cooke, Jeremy Strong and Dominic West are among the new signatories, joining Jason Momoa, Bill Pullman, Dame Emma Thompson, Jane Fonda, and Lisa Bonet, as well as music legends Coldplay, Brian Eno, Bryan Adams and Sting. They stand with 1.2 million citizens voicing active support for strong legislation.

Txai Suruí, an Indigenous activist from the Amazon and executive producer of National Geographic documentary The Territory, said: “I am here to make a call to all of you. What happens in the Amazon doesn’t stay in the Amazon. What happens in the Amazon goes around the world. It doesn’t affect just me and my people. It doesn’t affect only the creatures of the forest. Ultimately it affects you and everyone who lives on this planet. The Amazon is also your problem.”

The final text agreed by the European Parliament, European Commission, and Council of the European Union today could mark a defining moment in the fight to end deforestation just days before the UN kicks off critical global talks to tackle biodiversity loss in Montreal.

The law would introduce obligations on companies to pinpoint where their products originate and to check how they’re produced, and will apply to goods at high risk of causing deforestation such as cattle, cocoa, coffee, palm oil, soy, rubber, and wood.

However, critical provisions to respect land rights protected under international law and access to justice are still on the negotiating table and at risk of being excluded from the final version. The letter urges EU leaders to adopt these vital provisions respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples, who are proven to be the best forest protectors.

The letter, which is supported by ClientEarth, Artists for Amazonia, and the #Together4Forests movement, states: “This law matters deeply to all of us. Forests are crucial for the planet and one of our best solutions to climate change, and Indigenous Peoples their best protectors. We do not accept the brutal violations of the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, who fight with their lives to protect precious forests, for the sake of more cattle ranches or monoculture plantations.”

Other signatories include Belgian stars Matthias Schoenaerts, Matteo Simoni, and writer David Van Reybrouck, French actors Julie Delpy and Loic Mabanza, writer Sofia Sanchez de Betak and artist Yann Arthus-Bertrand, together with Swedish actress Malin Akerman and music artist Robyn.

The European Parliament voted in resounding favour of an ambitious law in September. If negotiations are successful on December 5th, a final vote is expected before the end of this year.


Notes to editors:
  • The European Commission put forward a proposal for a Regulation on deforestation-free products in November 2021.
  • In 2022, over 100 civil society organisations from around the world called for a strong law and over 206,000 citizens called on their MEPs to deliver a strong law.
  • Indigenous activists also called on EU leaders to protect the rights of forest communities by requiring companies to respect human rights and the rights of Indigenous Peoples over their lands and territories.
About ClientEarth

ClientEarth is a non-profit organisation that uses the law to create systemic change that protects the Earth for – and with – its inhabitants. We are tackling climate change, protecting nature and stopping pollution, with partners and citizens around the globe. We hold industry and governments to account, and defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. From our offices in Europe, Asia and the USA we shape, implement and enforce the law, to build a future for our planet in which people and nature can thrive together.