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17 Feb 2022

Christlich Initiative Romero

Open letter: 138 organizations from 33 countries write to EU Commission on importance of environmental rights for Sustainable Corporate Governance

Dear President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen,

dear Vice-President Věra Jourová,

dear Commissioner Didier Reynders,

dear Commissioner Thierry Breton,

the European Union is currently developing a Sustainable Corporate Governance on the duties of companies for responsible supply chains, which aims to require European companies to carry out due diligence in their supply chains and business relationships with the objective of analyzing risks and developing measures to prevent and remedy violations of human rights and environmental standards. The undersigned 138 organizations from 33 countries believe that this measure is an important opportunity to contribute to prevent severe impacts that occur in the production of raw materials for the European market. To achieve this, it is necessary that the regulation is fully applied to the whole supply chain, that it introduces civil liability and that it is in force for all companies operating in high risk sectors. In terms of environmental rights, the Escazú Agreement provides a guideline for the application of regulations for the mining and agro-industrial sectors. Therefore, we urge the European Union to include the principles of this important agreement into the regulation.

The extraction of minerals such as lithium, copper, gold or nickel as well as large agro-industrial monocultures contribute greatly to the destruction of biodiversity in the countries of the Global South...

The European Union is one of the largest consumers of these raw materials. Therefore, as environmental and human rights organizations, it is clear to us that the European Union has a responsibility to prevent and mitigate these impacts by promoting responsible production and consumption patterns and by requiring companies to comply with environmental and human rights due diligence.

It is particularly important that the regulation refers to and supports international conventions that seek to achieve these objectives. One of these most innovative instruments is the Escazú Agreement, which entered into force in Latin America and the Caribbean in April 2021 and has as its objectives to guarantee the right to a healthy environment and sustainable development, strengthening the rights of communities involved in environmental conflicts. Currently, the convention has already been ratified by 12 countries and it is based on four central pillars:

1. Access to environmental information

2. Public participation in environmental decision-making processes

3. Access to justice in environmental concerns

4. Protection of human rights defenders

We consider these key principles central to promoting environmental justice in supply chains and raw material production not only in Latin America and the Caribbean, but also in other countries where extractive companies are operating. The Escazú Agreement and its principles must be integrated into the list of relevant international conventions that companies must comply with as part of the due diligence measures prescribed in the regulation...