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7 in 10 Europeans want deforestation off the EU market - new poll

Will the upcoming EU law stop imported deforestation?

EU consumers do not want to be complicit in nature destruction. According to a new survey, 73% of Europeans think EU legislation should ensure that all products sold in the EU are sustainable and do not lead to biodiversity loss [1]. In their view, the EU should step up its commitment to protecting forests and other ecosystems (76%) and set its own criteria for food imported into the EU (74%).

Commissioned by WWF [2], the survey also shows that most European adults place the responsibility for reducing the environmental impact of food production on national governments (51%), manufacturers (49%) and the EU (41%). Despite there not being any mechanism in place or label to determine which products are linked to nature destruction, a third of respondents feel the burden of their choices lies with themselves.

Commenting on the findings, Anke Schulmeister-Oldenhove, Senior Forest Policy Officer at WWF's European Policy Office says: “EU consumers have a real appetite for change. They understand the direct link between what they eat and nature destruction, be it extreme weather events such as floods and droughts, or fires in the Amazon destroying the habitats of jaguars and toucans. They want clear rules that keep all nature destruction off their plates. The EU must listen to its citizens: for all products to be sustainable,  the new legislation must cover forests as well as other ecosystems, and be strongly implemented across EU Member States.”

These results build on recent research revealing that over half of Europeans are trying to eat more sustainably but feel there are barriers to doing so, including unclear labelling and lack of information on the environmental and social impacts of what they buy. Indeed, only 23% of the respondents are aware that eating eggs can be indirectly linked to damaging the environment. Chickens are fed on soy, the commodity with the largest embedded tropical deforestation imported into the EU

On 17 November, the European Commission is expected to present new legislation to curb the impact of EU consumption on deforestation and forest degradation. It is still unclear whether the proposal will also cover products linked to the destruction of savannahs and grasslands, which increasingly fall victim to expanding agriculture feeding EU markets. Any delay to protect these precious ecosystems  could be devastating for biodiversity and the climate.

Anke Schulmeister – Oldenhove
Senior Forest Policy Officer
+32 485 84 31 44

Alejandra Morales
Senior Communications Officer, Deforestation
+32 488 84 98 05

[1] Support is greatest in Portugal 88% and Greece (84%) and the lowest in Belgium (55%). France, Estonia and Finland follow the European average.

[2] The survey supports the WWF’s Eat4Change project, funded by the European Commission’s Development Education and Awareness Raising Programme (DEAR).  The survey was conducted by Savanta ComRes via their online panel in April 2021. The survey was answered by 11,439 adults in nine European countries: Austria (1032), Belgium (1028), Estonia (1044), Finland (1031), France (2098), Greece (1017), Portugal (1052), Sweden (1074) and the UK (2063). The data were weighted in each country by age, gender, region and social grade to be nationally representative. All countries were weighted to be equally represented in the combined European total. 

European consumers want sustainable products on EU supermarket shelves.