EU: Governments must change course to protect indigenous peoples under planned due diligence directive
- The EU Deforestation-Free Products Regulation (EUDR), which came into force in June 2023, missed the opportunity to sufficiently protect indigenous peoples rights. The upcoming corporate sustainability due diligence directive (CSDDD) is now at risk of following the same path.
- The final text of the CSDDD is currently being negotiated, and some Member States – including Germany, France, Finland, and Sweden – are actively seeking to weaken protections for indigenous peoples.
- It is essential that these Member States change course and ensure that crucial indigenous rights protections, such as specific rights to self-determination, land rights, the right to free, prior and informed consent, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and the ILO Convention No. 169, are included in the final directive.
- Last year, an investigation by Earthsight and De Olho nos Ruralistas, There Will Be Blood, exposed the links between pet food sold by some of Europe’s largest retailers and egregious indigenous rights violations in Brazil.
- Earthsight can now reveal that trade links between the Brazilian companies and Europe remain, highlighting the need for strong indigenous rights protections in the CSDDD.
The report uncovered the supply chain links between Brasília do Sul’s soy, a large chicken exporter in Brazil, and pet food sold by Germany’s largest supermarkets, including Lidl, dm-drogerie markt, Edeka, and Rewe Markt, as well as by several retailers in Europe, including Fressnapf. [...]
The European companies named here denied any wrongdoing and affirmed their commitment to upholding human rights in their supply chains.
However, through our correspondence with them, it became clear that their ‘due diligence’ checks were wholly unsatisfactory. Their responses indicate they had not been aware of Brasília do Sul’s links to Lar before this was brought to their attention by Earthsight. They also seemed to rely solely on assurances from their suppliers rather than conducting their own traceability assessments. Crucially, none could convincingly explain how or if they are able to stop chicken products linked to indigenous rights violations from entering their supply chains.
You can read the companies responses to There Will Be Blood here. Paulsen Food did not respond to our request for comment at the time.
Despite the revelations made in There Will Be Blood in May 2022, European companies continue to import chicken from Lar, exposing European customers to an ongoing risk. Between July 2022 and June 2023, Lar exported over 28,000 tonnes of chicken products to the EU. More than 5,500 tonnes of these were frozen chicken exported to German and the Netherlands for the manufacture of pet food. Lar's main markets in the EU are Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. [...]
Indigenous Peoples left behind by EU Deforestation Regulation
New EU corporate sustainability legislations aimed at minimising the negative impact of business activity and EU consumption on the environment and human rights globally were a beacon of hope for the Guarani Kaiowá and others. However, the EUDR, which came into force in June 2023, was a major disappointment for indigenous peoples. The upcoming CSDDD is now at risk of following the same path. [...]
However, before the CSDDD can become law, it needs to be agreed on by the European Parliament and the Council, the latter of which consists of EU Member State governments. And while the Parliament voted to strengthen the directive for indigenous peoples, the Council’s negotiating position does the opposite. The Council proposes dropping the UNDRIP, as well as a people’s right to dispose of a land's natural resources and to not be deprived of their means of subsistence.
It is reported that the German government has pushed to remove these protections form the CSDDD. This is especially shocking considering the number of large German companies whose pet food supply chains are tainted by indigenous rights abuses, as revealed in There Will Be Blood. It is rumoured that France, Sweden and Finland were also obstructing inclusion of these rights.
In addition, cases such as that of the Guarani Kaiowá demonstrate that it is essential the directive includes clear language requiring companies to carry out due diligence for their entire upstream value chain if the directive is to achieve its desired impact. In the case at hand, this would include due diligence reaching back to the farm where the soy for the chicken feed is grown. This is at least four tiers removed from the German retailers.
While the Commission’s proposed text for the CSDDD fell short of ensuring that indirect business relationships are covered, the Council and European Parliament agree that all tiers of a company’s upstream supply chain should be subject to due diligence obligations. It is essential that this position is maintained during the final negotiations.
Only companies of a certain size and annual turnover will need to comply with the CSDDD. Earthsight’s analysis indicates that all of the German retailers named in There Will Be Blood would have to comply with the directive.
The Council must change course
The case of the Guarani Kaiowá demonstrates that it is crucial Germany, France, Sweden and Finland change course. European cat and dog owners should be able to feed their pets without having to worry that they are unwittingly contributing to the oppression of an indigenous community abroad.
The former German coalition government, consisting of the Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democratic Party, let indigenous peoples down when they passed their national supply chain law, the Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz. The law has been described as “toothless” and “just a start” by Earthsight and others, and does not ask companies to take into account the ILO Convention 169 or UNDRIP when carrying out due diligence. The current coalition government in Germany, consisting of the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Liberal Democrats, now has the opportunity to correct this wrong. But they must stop putting business over people and the planet.