All major Swedish banks invest in companies linked to Amazon deforestation and abuse

18 May 2020

Fair Finance Guide Sweden in a special report with Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reveals that all Swedish major banks have investments in companies contributing to deforestation and abuse in the Amazon. Worst is Nordea with the equivalent of approximately 140 million euros in these companies. Shockingly three banks' sustainability funds are also involved. With ongoing investment from big banks, these companies can continue their harmful operations.

Fair Finance Guide Sweden are calling on bank customers to tell their banks to stop destructive investments. The response has been emphatic - to date over 4500 people have emailed their banks to say 'enough!' and the story has spread extensively with hundreds of social media shares, including by the Swedish minister of environment and climate

Murder and land-clearing

In total, the seven largest Swedish banks and five AP funds invest the equivalent of approximately 300 million euro in five companies linked to the destruction of the Amazon. Under the current political adminstration in Brazil, protections for the Amazon have been removed allowing businesses to operate with impunity. The world's largest rainforest risks becoming a savannah in just one generation. Many activists and indigenous people who try to stop tree felling and land clearing are murdered, according to Aftonbladet's reports.

Pictured above: Activist Paulo Paulino Guajajara was murdered last November because of his struggle to prevent illegal deforestation. (Photo: Survival International / Aftonbladet)

Brazilian and American companies linked to abuses

Pictured above: Illegal logging in the Amazon is a huge driver of deforestation (Photo: Andreas Bardell / Aftonbladet)

The five companies linked to the devastation are Brazilian meat companies JBS and Minerva, American soy giants ADM and Bunge, and American venture capital company Blackstone, which is the owner of companies that, among other things, built a highway straight through the Amazon. In several reports, the companies have been accused of contributing directly or indirectly to deforestation and violations of human rights and murder.

Pictured above: Emilio Viana, 37, with daughter Juliana, 8 are part of many Amazon communities facing the destruction of their livelihoods. (Photo: Andreas Bardell / Aftonbladet)

Of the Swedish banks, Nordea has invested almost 140 million euro equivalent in several of these companies, the Seventh AP Fund (non-rolling stock) has invested approximately 72 million euros, and SEB has invested 23 million euros. SEB, Danske Bank and Handelsbanken also have sustainability funds that invest in ADM, Bunge and Blackstone.

Customers tell banks to stop damaging investments

Fair Finance Guide Sweden uses campaigns like this to shine a spotlight on damaging investments and to encourage bank customers to email their bank and urge them to stop supporting companies destroying the Amazon. Banks are sensitive to consumer pressure, as a recent FFG Sweden campaign demonstrated. Following a campaign highlighting Swedbank's investments of over SEK 2 billion in Blackstone, many bank customers emailed Swedbank demanding action. The bank thereafter sold almost their entire holding in the company.

Check out the latest FFG Sweden campaign and find the complete Aftonbladet article Climate Warriors in Swedish here (For English try your browser translation options.) 

Pictured Above: The Amazon is a huge carbon sink and vital planetary ecosystem, but apart from courageous local activists it has few remaining protections. (Photo: Andreas Bardell/Aftonbladet)

Campaigns are just one way Fair Finance Guides in ten countries aim to limit the flow of finance to companies who do not adhere to Corporate Social Responsibility and ESG standards. Read more about the work of Fair Finance International here.