How AidEnvironment Supports Strategic Climate Litigation

Feb 2024

Article drafted by Sarah Drost, Deforestation-free Supply Chain Team, 21 February 2024

Since 2019, AidEnvironment’s Deforestation-free Supply Chains Team has expanded its support to European and non-European legislative initiatives, either by backing the adoption of strong laws and guiding their effective implementation, or by substantiating strategic litigation under the legal acts adopted through a focus on non-compliance cases, supply chain mapping, and trade data analyses. By building evidence for climate litigation claims, we aim to support stronger accountability for deforestation and linked human rights violations driven by global supply chains and international trade.

We have engaged with law charities and civil society organisations to support strategic litigation linked to European legislative initiatives, such as the European Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) and the French “duty of vigilance” law.

For instance, in collaboration with Envol Vert and Repórter Brasil, the Chain Reaction Research (CRR) consortium, led by AidEnvironment, demonstrated in 2020 how the French supermarket chain Casino Group, through its Latin American subsidiaries (Grupo Pão de Açúcar – GPA), purchased beef sourced from farms involved in illegal deforestation. Subsequently, in 2021, a lawsuit was filed against the Casino Group, claiming that the company’s supply chain practices in its Brazilian and its Colombian cattle supply chain were in violation of France’s 2017 “duty of vigilance” law.

Picture: Screenshot of France24 news article on indigenous groups filing a lawsuit against Casino Group, based on AidEnvironment-CRR research

Moreover, we supported Stand.Earth in their ongoing “burning legacy” campaign by mapping global soy, cotton, and palm oil operations of commodity trader giant Cargill, linking these to social and environmental impacts worldwide. In May 2023, ClientEarth has filed a legal complaint against US-based agricultural giant Cargill over its failure to adequately deal with its contribution to soy-driven deforestation and human rights violations in Brazil. The work of AidEnvironment has been mentioned in the claim as we have linked Cargill to specific farms where deforestation has occurred in Brazil by using remote satellite imagery, supply chain analysis, field research, and millions of datasets.

In 2023, case studies developed through our Realtime Deforestation Monitoring (RDM) program were picked up by the Brazilian civil society organization 10envolvimento, which focuses on the defence of traditional communities and the conservation of natural resources in the Brazilian Cerrado. The 10Envolvimento used the RDM cases to submit complaints on irregularities found in environmental licenses for the clearance of native vegetation in Environmental Agencies. Based on recent deforestation information included in RDM case studies, the NGO succeeded in suspending irregular environmental licenses in at least two properties, avoiding further clearing of native vegetation.

We believe that, by supporting strategic climate litigation, we can reach European and local impact and contribute to halting deforestation globally.

For more information on our evidence-based research capacity to support litigation cases or campaigns linked to commodity-driven deforestation, please reach out to Sarah Drost (