Indirectly, substantial power lies with the global populace. By far the largest share of Amazonian deforestation is driven by agribusinesses owned by European and American companies, while Europe’s economy in particular is deeply intertwined with Brazil’s
In need for regulation
As consumers of Brazilian agricultural products, we must insist on the application of due diligence by European companies and banks to eradicate deforestation and human rights abuses from agricultural supply chains and capital investments.
Some countries have already taken steps in this direction. France’s Devoir de Vigilance law requires French companies to evaluate the risk of environmental and social damage within their supply chains, including that caused by subcontractors and suppliers globally
. Switzerland is currently debating an initiative that would oblige Swiss companies to implement human rights and environmental due diligence in their business activities abroad
The European Commission must also enact legislation to ensure that no product imported into the EU leads to deforestation or human rights violations
. The OECD already provides a framework to ensure that agricultural supply chains respect human rights and environmental standards
. Such regulations could be given teeth by including laws and mechanisms for prosecution of EU nationals and companies that benefit from illegal land conversion.
Exerting collective power
We consumers in Europe can exert collective power by pressurising agribusinesses, banks, and governments to implement strong due diligence regulations. The role of European trade in driving environmental degradation in Brazil has been emphasised by a letter, published in
on 25 April 2019, signed by 600 academics (myself included) and Brazilian indigenous groups
In a globalised world, we can effect change by acting locally, by forcing our governments and companies to eliminate oppression and deforestation from supply chains that end in Europe. Bolsonaro’s commitment to development by weakening environmental and human rights standards depends on our willingness to be complicit in his agenda.