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.
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Friends of the Earth and our allies have pushed businesses and corporations to cut ties with abusive and destructive palm oil companies.
More than 40,000 Friends of the Earth members signed our petition urging Nestlé to cut ties with REPSA. And Nestlé responded.
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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Amsterdam, Duazon, Washington - Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), one of the world’s largest palm oil producers, has withdrawn from the High Carbon Stock Approach Group, (HCSA Group). HCSA Group is a sustainability watchdog and standard-setting body that works to prevent deforestation. This decision follows the company’s failure to adequately respond to…
Consumer companies must stay engaged and use their leverage to require Astra Agro Lestari (AAL) to pay for losses and damages caused to communities during nearly 25 years of operations in Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Nestlé’s suspension of AAL from its supply chain is an important first step toward ensuring accountability for ongoing human rights violations.
Rather than pursuing a peaceful resolution following these recent business suspensions, Astra Agro Lestari is fomenting further violence and intimidation.
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?
This piece is a set of reflections from Jeff Conant, International Forests Program Director, during a recent trip to Indonesia to meet with local village communities.[caption id="attachment_1367" align="alignnone" width="535"] Villager displaying petai bean pods in Air Pahlawan // Photo Courtesy of Jeff Conant[/caption]
The village of…
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