In a time when environmental justice is more important than ever, the EU-LAT Network, together with 20 other international organisations, has participated in the documentary The Illusion of Abundance, co-directed by Erika González Ramírez and Matthieu Lietaert.

This documentary introduces us to Berta Cáceres, Carolina de Mouro and Máxima Acuña, three women human rights defenders from Latin America, on the frontline, defending their communities from the extractivism of multinational corporations – the modern-day conquistadors – who systematically reduce their lands, natural resources and livelihoods.

By zooming in on the struggles of these three environmental defenders, the documentary not only uncovers the way in which some multinational corporations, including European ones, resort to legal and even physical intimidation in order to continue their economic model. It also shows the public and private struggles of the women defenders and the gender-specific consequences they experience.

No law can bring back life. Now, the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of the European Union have a unique opportunity to hold companies accountable. On the 23rd of February 2022, the European Commission published its proposal for a directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence. This is a long-awaited step by civil society, given the failure of voluntary measures to comply with human rights and environmental protection obligations.

With the negotiations of the Directive now in place in the European Parliament and Council, this documentary illustrates the urgent relevance of a European due diligence that minimises the negative impacts on businesses on workers, communities and the environment worldwide, and advancing corporate sustainability and justice. With the specific focus on women environmental defenders, it proves our demand to formulate this Due Diligence Directive with a gender perspective, a reference to defenders, environmental obligations and with the inclusion of the entire value chain in the financial sector.

With the words of Máxima Acuña, land defender in Peru: “Sure. They’ll give us money. But what can we do without our land to live?”