Santander is fully committed to working with beef processing clients, as well as governments, regulators, and NGOs, to help end deforestation. We understand this is a highly complex challenge that demands a multifaceted and multilateral response.
We are in frequent contact with our beef processing clients on this matter, with a particular focus on issues relating to indirect suppliers operating within the Amazon. We cannot comment on details relating to individual clients, however, we expect all our beef processing clients to have a fully traceable supply chain that is deforestation free by 2025. If this cannot be established, we will stop providing credit.
We apply due diligence to clients with significant beef processing or cattle sourcing operations in South America, including reviewing progress in areas such as traceability of cattle supply chains, and commitments to address deforestation. We consider financing decisions on an entity by entity basis, taking into account our due diligence in relation to that entity and the proposed use of proceeds.
HSBC’s approach to deforestation and related issues is set out in our Sustainability Risk policies on Forestry and Agricultural Commodities, which incorporate No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation requirements, and the use and support of credible independent certification schemes. We proactively engage with and help our customers to ensure they operate in accordance with good international practice but end relationships with customers who do not comply with our policies. We are committed to tackling deforestation and will further evolve our policies and practices, in line with emerging best practice guidance.
With regard to your questions, Rabobank’s stance on sustainable agriculture and deforestation in Brazil is, among others, expressed in Rabobank’s Declaration on Deforestation in Brazil.
Moreover, Rabobank is part of the Round Table for Sustainable Soy to work together on more sustainable production of soy. We are also part of the Task Force Nature Related Financial Disclosure (TNFD), where we cooperate with partners as WWF and United Nations on a framework to measure biodiversity. We have our Agri3Fund with the UN, 1 billion euros to speed up investment in farms that pursue more sustainable practices, including forest protection and improving rural livelihoods. Lastly, WWF Brazil and Rabobank are working together to measure, monitor and incentivize regenerative land use in Brazil’s soy sector.
In addition, Rabobank periodically performs sustainability assessments of its business clients in sensitive sectors based on its sustainability policies and standards. Rabobank assesses signals of alleged adverse client impacts that may not be compatible with those policies and standards and may follow-up and engage with clients based on the outcomes of the investigation.
At Vanguard, we take our responsibility as stewards of our clients’ assets extremely seriously. On behalf of the Vanguard funds and its investors, our Investment Stewardship team frequently engages with executives and boards, including holding discussions with relevant companies on deforestation and its risks to long-term business sustainability.
Vanguard expects boards to oversee material risks and provide clear, comparable, and consistent deforestation-related disclosure, including internal targets and disclosure of progress against those targets. If a company does not make progress towards addressing such risks, we will hold them accountable to protect long-term value for our investors. Vanguard is also a signatory to CDP Forests, an effort to advocate for better disclosure of deforestation risks by public companies.
1. How does ABP respond to the notion that by investing in JBS and Minerva, the fund may be helping to finance deforestation of the Amazon rainforest?
ABP wants to offer all our participants a good pension now and in the future – one they can enjoy in a livable world. That is why we carefully consider the return, risk, and cost, as well as the social responsibility and sustainability performance of each investment decision we make.
The conservation of natural resources is one of the focus areas within our Sustainable and responsible investment policy. We are aware that investing in companies can have a negative impact on people and the environment. We therefore assess the companies we invest in on sustainability criteria related to the environment, human rights, and good corporate governance. We only invest in companies that meet our sustainability criteria or companies which we expect to be able to become more sustainable in the short term. To encourage companies to become more sustainable, we speak with them, we call this engagement. In 2021, we spoke with many companies about various sustainability themes.
We have also spoken with JBS and Minerva on the topics mentioned in your mail. We notice that the topics you have mentioned are also attention points of JBS and Minerva. Still, JBS and Minerva must continue to convince us of their increasing sustainability practices. Periodically, we evaluate whether JBS and Minerva still meet our increasing sustainability requirements, and whether they have taken sufficient steps forward. As soon as these organizations no longer, or too slowly, meet our sustainability requirements, we can decide at any time to no longer invest in the company. We are also currently revising our responsible investment policy.
Does ABP believe funds should bear responsibility for deforestation caused by companies in their portfolios?
ABP believes it is important to contribute to a livable world. We believe that as a pension fund, we can play an important role on topics such as deforestation and biodiversity loss. Therefore, we actively use our influence as an investor by voting at shareholder meetings and engaging with companies to prevent and stop deforestation. On our website we publish how we have voted, with which companies we spoke and on what topics.
Why doesn’t ABP have a clear policy to address deforestation linked to its investments? Does it intend to create one?
The conservation of natural resources is one of the focus areas within our Sustainable and Responsible Investment Policy. To combat deforestation, we set additional criteria for food companies. We demand these companies to combat deforestation in their supply chain. Aside from this we identify the most relevant sustainability issues per sector and assess companies on if they meet minimum criteria and how they perform regarding sustainability. For the latter, we look at whether there are any known controversies about the company.
Given our findings – and JBS’s unprecedented admission that they are accurate – does ABP intend to stop investing in JBS and Minerva?
We monitor JBS and Minerva closely and continue to use our influence to hold these companies to account. Periodically we evaluate whether JBS and Minerva still meet our increasing sustainability requirements, and whether they have taken sufficient steps forward. As soon as these organizations no longer, or too slowly, meet our sustainability requirements, we can decide at any time to no longer invest in the company. And as mentioned above we are currently revising and raising the bar of our Sustainable and Responsible Investment Policy.
We are hoping to have informed you sufficiently about our investment in JBS and Minerva. Of course, we are available for any additional questions.
How does PFZW respond to the notion that by investing in JBS and Minerva, the fund may be helping to finance deforestation of the Amazon rainforest? Does PFZW believe funds should bear responsibility for deforestation caused by companies in their portfolios?
At PFZW (through our asset manager), we have a due diligence system in place to identify companies that are exposed to various controversies such as deforestation and biodiversity loss. Based on the outcome of our due diligence, we decide whether to use our influence as investors to improve the behaviour of the company or whether to exclude it from our portfolio. When do we remain invested? When we think that by exercising our influence as investor we can steer a company towards better practices and thus end the negative impact.
Based on the outcomes of the above mentioned screening, we are not investing in JBS anymore and we have been intensifying our engagement with Minerva in the last months.
Does PFZW have a clear zero-deforestation policy? Does it have any policy to address deforestation risk from cattle ranching linked to its investments? Does it intend to create one?
A zero-deforestation policy is something that we expect our investees that source soft commodities to have in place. We engage with companies to adopt one as well as clear traceability and grievance mechanisms. We are currently in the process of writing a policy paper on biodiversity and nature loss that shall clarify our expectations for companies on this topic and our KPIs. It will be published in the coming months.
Nevertheless, even if the policy paper is not public yet, we already implement due diligence on this topic and engage with our investees. As explained above, we have a system in place to identify negative impacts and misbehaviors from investee companies. In addition to this, we are also developing an additional screening that goes more in-depth on the topics of biodiversity loss, land rights, and labour rights. We, and our participants, find these topics critical thus we are enhancing our efforts, expertise, and resources on this.
Given our findings, does PFZW intend to stop investing in JBS and Minerva?
We already divested from JBS due to several controversies. We will continue to look into the allegations made against Minerva and apply our due diligence process. Depending on the outcome, this could eventually lead to divestment.
We take these allegations very seriously but also believe that by exercising our influence as investor, we can steer a company towards better practices. Therefore we generally prefer to remain invested rather than sell our shares/bonds to others that may not care about these issues.
Leia a reportagem: JBS admite ter comprado quase 9 mil bois ilegais do ‘maior desmatador do país’