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1 Nov 2021

Global Witness

Global: New report reveals financial institutions' revenue of $1.74 billion from deals with irresponsible agribusinesses linked to deforestation & attacks on HRDs; incl. banks and companies' comments

"Deforestation Dividends", 21 October 2021

After the Paris Climate Agreement was signed in 2015, many banks took the opportunity to publicise how they were committed to aligning their investments with the world’s climate goals... [Global Witness] estimated exactly how much some of these banks are making from deforestation-linked deals. Some of the worst offenders include major global names like HSBC, JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, Rabobank and Bank of China. 

[Global Witness'] new investigation reveals how banks have been raking in vast revenues from their deals with some of the world’s most harmful agribusinesses, which are driving the destruction of our climate-critical forests.  

In total, banks and investors based in the UK, EU, US and China have made an estimated $1.74 billion from $157 billion worth of deals with irresponsible agribusiness firms. These include SLC Agrícola, JBS, Marfrig and Minerva, whose links to forest destruction have been documented in our previous investigations. The various banks featured responded to our requests for comment... As global leaders gear up for the vital COP26 climate conference, it’s vital that they take meaningful action to stop the financial sector profiting from deforestation and associated human rights abuses...


More than two thirds of tropical forest that is cleared for pasture or cropland is converted illegally, facilitated by corruption or poor enforcement of local laws, according to a May 2021 Forest Trends study. Agribusiness is also a high-risk sector for the killing of land and environmental defenders and for egregious abuses of indigenous rights. Moreover, biodiversity and viral disease experts have singled out forest destruction as a risk factor for future pandemics. Despite this, deals with agribusinesses involved in deforestation continue apace. These apparent due diligence failures suggest banks are either failing to conduct proper checks or knowingly providing cash to companies behind deforestation.


The report contains comments from companies and financial institutions. Their responses can be read in the main body of the report, or in the Responses section annexed to the report.