“The world’s financial institutions are actually increasing their lending to the very industries driving humanity to the brink,” Tom Picken, director of Rainforest Action Network’s Forest and Finance Campaign, said in a statement, citing “dangerously inadequate” policies.

Forests & Finance policy assessment of 200 financial institutions exposed to companies working in areas at risk of deforestation in Latin America, Southeast Asia and West and Central Africa scored 59% of them under one out of 10, sign of “an abject failure” to mitigate environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks.

In Indonesia, for example, southeast Asian pulp and paper producers are continuing to expand production, putting the country’s remaining forests under pressure; while in Brazil, the beef industry has contributed to 80% of the Amazon deforestation since 1985, the report said.

Finance firms’ policies on providing credit or investment to both sectors were “very weak”, the study also noted, and have done little to avert environmental degradation, support indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ rights or ensure companies are not exploiting people through forced labour.

“This latest assessment shows how big banks and institutional investors are blind to the urgency of the moment,” Picken stated.

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