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.
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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A proposal to shareholders urges Procter & Gamble investors to vote against current members of the board of directors, due to the company’s failure to address unsustainable sourcing of wood pulp and palm oil from climate-critical forests in the Canadian boreal and southeast Asia.
Friends of the Earth U.S., The Network for Social Justice and Human Rights in Brazil show that Bunge continues to drive deforestation.
Indonesia’s second largest palm oil company, Astra Agro Lestari (AAL), is responsible for longstanding land rights abuses and environmental destruction in operations undertaken without proper legal permits.
The agribusiness giant Bunge is engaging in an egregious corporate climate con – and shareholders should take note.
A report released by Friends of the Earth US and WALHI finds that Astro Agro Lestari are caught up in land conflicts with local communities, and are responsible for environmental and human rights abuses.
As industrial agribusiness razes the world’s last standing forests and accelerate the climate crisis, land defenders are fighting back.