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.

Featured Resources See All
Impact Stories See All
A Victory for Forests: Cargill Cuts Ties with Palm Oil Producer
A Victory for Forests: Cargill Cuts Ties with Palm Oil Producer

Friends of the Earth and our allies have pushed businesses and corporations to cut ties with abusive and destructive palm oil companies.

Nestlé Cuts Ties With Conflict Palm Oil
Nestlé Cuts Ties With Conflict Palm Oil

More than 40,000 Friends of the Earth members signed our petition urging Nestlé to cut ties with REPSA. And Nestlé responded.

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.

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Latest News See All
Majority of Bunge shareholders vote for measures on deforestation but green groups issue urgent call for action

Shareholders in Bunge Limited last week threw their weight behind a call for the company to do more to protect forests in Brazil.

Shareholder resolution passes, urging Bunge to disclose plans to halt deforestation

Shareholders in agribusiness company Bunge Limited voted today for the company to evaluate and disclose its efforts to eliminate deforestation from its operations.

Green groups & investors push for urgent action on deforestation and human rights abuses from Bunge, one of the world’s largest commodity traders

Friends of the Earth US and Global Witness are urging shareholders in one of the world’s largest agri-commodity traders to vote in favour of tackling deforestation at the company’s upcoming AGM. 

Latest Blog Posts See All
Bucking a long trend of negligence, shareholders urge Bunge to halt deforestation

A majority of shareholders voted yesterday for Bunge to explain its plans to deal with deforestation, it should be seen as a step forward in the financial sector’s willingness to tackle the issue.

Three months since Procter & Gamble’s historic shareholder vote on forests, the company has no plans to end forest destruction.
Three months since Procter & Gamble’s historic shareholder vote on forests, the company has no plans to end forest destruction.

The world’s largest consumer goods company continues failing to address concerns over its deforestation and forest degradation in the boreal forest of Canada and tropical forests of Indonesia and Malaysia.

Today is Indigenous Peoples Day. Where is the finance sector?
Today is Indigenous Peoples Day. Where is the finance sector?

Let’s be clear: all exploitation of resources by our industrial society depends on exploitation of the people within whose lands and territories those resources lie.

Resources See All
  • Brief to Shareholders of Bunge April 2021
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  • Frontline Letter to BlackRock
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  • TIAA’s Accumulation of Farmland is Not Responsible
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