Climate Alliance event | 13.11.2019 | Brussels

Brazil and the EU: Indigenous Rights, Imported Deforestation and Climate

from 17:30 to 19:30

This event will shed light upon the links between European imports, deforestation, human rights violations, climate and the current situation of indigenous peoples in Brazil. Arguing that the EU-Mercosur trade agreement in its current form will only aggravate the situation, and that the EU doesn't have any tool in place to ensure that its agricultural imports do not cause deforestation or human rights violations, the panellists will provide recommendations to improve conditions for both indigenous peoples and the climate.


Brazil is the country where most carbon is stored worldwide – in forests sustainably maintained by indigenous peoples and local communities. Safeguarding these territories as carbon sinks is vital if we are to curb down greenhouse gas emissions in the coming 12 years, as needed in order to reach the 1.5°C climate target. 

However, since Jair Bolsonaro became President in January 2019, the government unequivocally stated that instead of protecting indigenous territories to safeguard the environment and human rights, it will rather exploit them for “economic development” and agricultural expansion. As we know, this position emboldened exploitative appetites and eventually led to extensive fires in the Amazon, sparking an international outcry.

It is important to acknowledge that the EU – Brazil’s second biggest export partner – largely contributes to deforestation, mostly through its imports of soy, beef and leather. This imported deforestation can be prevented in the future through laws guaranteeing products sold in the EU do not cause deforestation and the inclusion of binding and enforceable rules in the EU-Mercosur free-trade agreement. But for now the sustainability chapter of the Mercosur trade deal – without any clause on sanctions - only expresses a declaration of intent.

Further information

Co-organised by Fern and the Representation of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate

This event is made possible through the project "Change the Power – (Em)Power to Change: Local Authorities towards the SDGs and Climate Justice" with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Climate Alliance and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.