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Article

20 Jun 2022

Author:
Thomson Reuters Foundation

Brazil: ESG corporate investments in açaí cultivation by local communities may result in greenwashing and increased deforestation

Wikimedia Commons

"Forests or business - who wins when companies pay to protect trees?", 20 June 2022

....Corporations worldwide are backing projects to plant or protect carbon-absorbing trees, as ethical investing - which weighs up a company's commitment to environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues - becomes one of the fastest-growing areas of finance.

Some environmentalists, however, argue that such efforts are often just cases of "greenwashing" - a way for companies to look like they are taking action to curb climate change without actually cutting their own planet-heating emissions.

"Funding for communities is not bad, but that doesn't make up for the negative impact that the company may be having on the environment," said Gustavo Pinheiro, a coordinator at the Institute for Climate and Society...

Carla Zorzo, brand director for TTS, said the company, which operates in Brazil, was moved to put money into Amazonbai after seeing the devastation of the fires that swept through the Amazon in 2020...

When global demand for acai started surging, the community in Bailique realized there was more money in keeping the forest standing so that they could farm and sell the berries...

With so many Brazilian farmers turning their land over to acai palms, other native tree species...are being squeezed out...

But the current ESG wave means many corporations are investing in forest protection as a way to buy external goodwill, instead of using the money to make internal changes to cut their carbon emissions...