French banks finance companies linked to deforestation, according to Global Witness analysis

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Article
10 February 2020

BNP Paribas, Natixis and Crédit Agricole implicated in financing global forest destruction

Author: Global Witness

Research shows France’s financial sector provided nearly €2 billion between 2013 and 2019 to five of the six of the most harmful agribusiness companies directly or indirectly involved in deforestation in the world’s largest tropical rainforests. This makes France the second largest EU contributor of funds to these companies...

Ahead of a meeting convened tomorrow by the French government on the country’s strategy to tackle deforestation associated with its imports, Global Witness reveals how BNP Paribas, Natixis and Crédit Agricole are all linked to major agribusiness companies associated with extremely damaging deforestation in some of the world’s largest remaining rainforest...

“This activity appears to be in direct contravention of President Macron’s stated ambitions to tackle global deforestation,” said Laurence Duprat, Campaign Advisor at Global Witness. “We have identified financing operations that occurred even after the French government introduced its ‘Duty of Vigilance’ law in 2017 requiring French business to identify, mitigate and prevent adverse human rights and environmental impacts resulting from their activities.” ...

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Article
10 February 2020

French lenders bankroll firms linked to deforestation: analysis

Author: AFP News

French banks have provided almost two billion euros of financial backing to agribusiness groups implicated in deforestation despite a law preventing firms from funding environmental damage, according to new analysis seen by AFP...

"The rapid breakdown of our climate is a concern to many -- including bank customers," said Laurence Duprat, a Global Witness campaign adviser...

"So it's unsurprising that banks and investors proudly trumpet policies on ethical investment and lending. But there is a blatant contradiction"... 

"The same French financial institutions are skirting their own policies at will..."

According to Global Witness, last year Natixis contributed $50 million (45 million euros) to a credit facility for Olam International, one of the world's largest agribusiness groups...

A spokesman from Olam said: "We strongly refute allegations of irresponsible deforestation or land conversion."

He told AFP that Olam works closely with the government of Gabon "to carefully balance Gabon's development needs with the imperative to conserve the country's unique forests"...

Credit Agricole is listed as a "principal banker" on the 2018 annual report of Halcyon Agri, a Singapore-based company also implicated in deforestation...

BNP Paribas in 2019 was still one of a number of banks operating a $500 million bond for Brazilian beef trader Marfrig, the analysis showed...

The bank told Global Witness that all its clients in the Amazon "are either already certified or engaged in a certification process" to ensure responsible practices.

 

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Report
10 February 2020

The role of French banks in global forest destruction

Author: Global Witness

Since the law passed, the three French banks examined here have yet to publicly report in their annual ‘vigilance plans’ on identified risks posed by companies exposed to, involved in, or linked with, deforestation and related human rights abuses...

BNP Paribas told Global Witness that it is currently engaged in a dialogue with such clients to ensure that they adopt responsible practices. BNP Paribas states that “all our clients operating in the Amazonian and Cerrado regions are either already certified or engaged in a certification process which we are monitoring.” ...

Natixis informed Global Witness that because it has had a relationship with Olam since 1999, it annually reviews the company – a process that includes assessing environmental and social risks associated with their activities. The bank highlights that [...] Olam has achieved significant progress...

An Olam spokesman told Global Witness the company is committed to no further expansion until all their plantations achieve full certification with the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil in 2021...

Crédit Agricole stated that Sinochem is a participant in sustainability initiatives. They said that Halcyon Agri has addressed its legacy issues...

The bank said that it would engage further with the company in the case of “continued incidence of events that are in contradiction with the sustainability policies published by Halcyon Agri”...

The French government should:

- Lead a national and global strategy to tackle the role played by financial institutions in financing deforestation

- Ensure that French financial institutions, including those named here, are reporting under the duty of vigilance law on measures taken to identify and address any risks that their financing contributes directly or indirectly to deforestation or human rights abuses

- Continue to support EU legislation to require companies and financial institutions to undertake mandatory due diligence to ensure they are not contributing to deforestation or human rights abuses.

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