Land Grabbing, Forests & Finance Archives

Land Grabbing, Forests & Finance

One of the fastest growing drivers of deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and displacement of forest-dwelling communities is the expansion of industrial agricultural plantations across the tropics for the production of palm oil, soy, cattle and pulp and paper. These ingredients appear in thousands of everyday household goods that line supermarket shelves. Monoculture plantations are responsible for widespread forest destruction, loss of endangered species’ habitat, and increasingly violent land conflicts between companies and local — often Indigenous — communities.

Deforestation driven by industrial agriculture is second only to fossil fuel combustion as a leading driver of global climate change. Year after year the world watches as some of the planet’s greatest rainforests, from the Amazon to Indonesia to the Congo Basin burn to supply the industrial demand for agricultural commodities. On average, an area of forest cover the size of the United Kingdom was lost every year between 2014 and 2018.

While agribusiness and consumer companies play a central role in driving the industrial agricultural supply chains responsible for deforestation and human rights abuses, these companies are financed by powerful investors. Following the money, Friends of the Earth US advocates for financiers to use their leverage to force companies to change their practices, or shift investments away from companies and industries driving deforestation, land grabbing, and human rights abuses. 

In recent years, some money managers have come to recognize their responsibility to halt deforestation, as both a business risk and a moral imperative. But NONE of the largest US investment firms have policies on deforestation and human rights to guide their investments and ensure they are not funding deforestation. We advocate for all institutional investors, asset managers and banks to adopt policies to protect forests and the Indigenous Peoples who depend upon and care for them.

Indigenous Peoples and local communities have proven to be the best protectors of forests and lands on which the entire planet depends. Recognizing and respecting land rights therefore must be an essential part of any strategy to mitigate the worst impacts of the climate crisis. We work in close collaboration with civil society organizations, local communities, and grassroots leaders on the frontlines of the global deforestation crisis to ensure that their land rights are at the heart of any solution.

See our investment principles for forests and human rights.

Latest News See All
Friends of the Earth groups denounce recent case of intimidation by Astra Agro Lestari, call for immediate de-escalation

Friends of the Earth groups strongly denounce the most recent instance of intimidation by Astra Agro Lestari (AAL) against community members who are calling for the return of their land taken by the company without consent.

Major bank and investor policies accelerating forest destruction, biodiversity loss, climate chaos and rights violations

A new report released on "Finance Day" at COP28 provides a comprehensive look into the role big finance plays in driving tropical deforestation, biodiversity loss, climate change and human rights abuses.

Friends of the Earth groups reject inadequate, inaccurate Astra Agro Lestari report on environmental and human rights violations in Indonesia

Friends of the Earth groups issued a detailed response denouncing a new report by Indonesia’s second largest palm oil company, Astra Agro Lestari (AAL), concerning environmental and human rights violations by the company’s subsidiaries.

Impact Stories See All
Holding Multinational Corporations Accountable
Holding Multinational Corporations Accountable

Getting six major multinationals to stand up and take action is no small thing, but there is still work to be done.

Protecting the Amazon from Rampant Deforestation
Protecting the Amazon from Rampant Deforestation

Studies suggest that cattle ranching and animal feed production is currently responsible for 80% of deforestation across the Latin America and Caribbean region.

Fighting for Corporate Responsibility
Fighting for Corporate Responsibility

After years of pressure from environmental activists, Proctor & Gamble shareholders took a vital step towards protecting our forests.

Featured Resources See All

Defunding Deforestation

As part of our campaign to #DefundDeforestation, we partner with the shareholder advocates at As You Sow to host DeforestationFreeFunds.Org – a search platform that enables people to find out if their money, in the form of individual investments or an employer-provided 401(k), may be causing tropical deforestation.

For many of us, the majority of our investments are in 401(k) plans offered by our employers. These 401(k)s invest mostly through mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and for most of us, it’s not easy to investigate what’s inside the funds we own.  DeforestationFreeFunds.Org provides a practical way to see what your 401(k) is invested in, and to help you talk to your 401(k) plan manager about offering Deforestation Free 401k fund options.

Latest Blog Posts See All
Indigenous Leader Faces Murder Attempt, Death Threats Amid Intensifying Land Grabbing and Deforestation in the Brazilian Cerrado
Indigenous Leader Faces Murder Attempt, Death Threats Amid Intensifying Land Grabbing and Deforestation in the Brazilian Cerrado

Agribusiness companies operating in the Brazilian Cerrado continue to drive violence, intimidation, and dispossession against Indigenous leaders, traditional communities and environmental human rights defenders

Urgent Action Needed to Prevent Escalating Conflict by Astra Agro Lestari in Sulawesi, Indonesia
Urgent Action Needed to Prevent Escalating Conflict by Astra Agro Lestari in Sulawesi, Indonesia

Rather than pursuing a peaceful resolution following these recent business suspensions, Astra Agro Lestari is fomenting further violence and intimidation.

Will consumer goods companies ensure justice for communities that have been robbed of their lands and livelihoods?
Will consumer goods companies ensure justice for communities that have been robbed of their lands and livelihoods?

If a destructive palm oil company is suspended by consumer goods giants for land grabbing and human right abuses, will we finally get our land back?

Resources See All
  • Land Grabbing and Ecocide: How Bunge, TIAA, and Harvard Fuel the Destruction of the Brazilian Cerrado
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  • Brief to Procter & Gamble Shareholders
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  • Open Letter on Agra Astari Lestari
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