forests & finance

The banks and investors exposed to deforestation risks in Southeast Asia

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View the bank profiles
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Photo: Ulet Ifansasti / Wildlife Asia / RAN /
Racing Extinction

news updates

Major International Banks Continue to Finance Indofood Despite Evidence of Systemic Labor Abuses

November 30, 2017

A new report published by Rainforest Action Network, OPPUK—an Indonesian labor rights advocacy organization—and International Labor Rights Forum titled, “The Human Cost of Conflict Palm Oil Revisited: How PepsiCo, Banks, and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil Perpetuate Indofood’s Worker Exploitation” details new evidence of labor abuses on plantations owned by Indofood Sukses Makmur (Indofood), one of the world’s largest palm oil companies. Indofood’s largest financiers include Japanese, Indonesian, and Singaporean banks, as well as some major Western banks.

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Indonesian NGOs urge financiers to divest from APRIL

November 28, 2017

A group of 30 Indonesian NGOs have sent a letter of concern to major financiers and buyers of APRIL, as a result of the company’s reluctance to adhere to the Ministry’s request to submit revised workplans that would comply with Indonesia’s new peat regulations. These developments put into question APRIL’s commitment to implement its own sustainability policy issued in June 2015 and demonstrate potential regulatory risks that may have material consequences for financiers and others.

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NGO recommendations for the EU Sustainable Finance Action Plan

November 27, 2017

A coalition of NGOs have put together an anthology of analysis, positions and recommendations on priorities for the EU Sustainable Finance Action Plan. They recommend that the European financial framework should be reformed in order to align EU financial policies and legislation with environmental, social and governance factors (ESG), notably from international agreements like the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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HSBC Pledges US$100bn in Sustainable Finance after Accusations of Environmental Exploitation

November 8, 2017

In January, Greenpeace reported on HSBC’s involvement in palm oil development in Indonesia. The bank has now announced a pledge of US$100bn to be invested in sustainable finance.

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IOI Group Sets New Standards for an Industry Rife with Forced Labour, Child Labour and Worker Exploitation

October 31, 2017

In October 2017, Malaysian palm oil giant IOI Group announced three major labour policies: to stop charging recruitment fees to its workers, respect the right to freedom of association and strive towards paying a living wage. Collectively, these policies set a new standard within an industry known for exploiting workers and labour rights.

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In the Red: Bank Policies Failing to Ensure They Will Avoid Irresponsible Investment in the Pulp & Paper Industry

October 5, 2017

An assessment by the Environmental Paper Network (EPN) reveals that the banking sector does not have adequate policies to avoid irresponsible investment in damaging pulp and paper projects and companies.

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UNPRI signatories are fueling climate change and deforestation through their investments in banks

September 25, 2017

A new report, Banks: High Carbon, Hidden Risks, by Rainforest Action Network, demonstrates that large banks such as JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, HSBC, Mitsubishi UFJ, Mizuho and Deutsche Bank are pumping billions of dollars into extreme fossil fuels and tropical deforestation. The largest investors in these banks and UN Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI) members, such as Vanguard, Blackrock, State Street and Japan’s Government Investment Pension Fund, have influence over the lending policies of banks, yet they continue to look the other way.

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Financiers Beware: Sale of Controversial Pulp and Paper Company Eldorado Brasil

September 2, 2017

Eldorado Brasil is involved in major corruption scandals, and has a legacy of serious environmental damage and social conflict. Various potential buyers are rumoured to be in discussions with Eldorado, including Indonesia’s notorious Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and other pulp and paper companies with poor ESG track records – but no deal has yet been confirmed.

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New Indonesian Regulation on Sustainable Finance important step in addressing the role of banks and investors in forest destruction and human rights abuses

August 18, 2017

In July 2017, the Indonesian financial services authority (OJK) published a new Regulation on Sustainable Finance (POJK). The POJK is a welcome and important step in addressing the role of banks and investors in financing forest destruction and human rights abuses in Indonesia.

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World’s Largest Pension Fund Makes Critical Misstep in New “ESG” Index, Gives Green Light to Climate Destroying Banks

July 26, 2017

In July 2017, the world’s largest pension fund, the Government Pension Investment Fund of Japan (GPIF), announced a set of indices for its so-called “ESG” investments. Shockingly, the indices include companies—notably major Japanese banks—that are at the forefront of financing the destruction of the planet.

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2016 ESG Performance Report of Mizuho: No.1 financier of fossil fuels in Japan and major financier of deforestation

June 23, 2017

New report by Rainforest Action Network, 350.org Japan, Friends of the Earth Japan and Japan Center for Sustainable Environment and Society reveals Mizuho’s financing of fossil fuels and rainforest destruction are fueling climate change and endangering both people and the planet.  

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Japanese and Malaysian Banks and Investors Continue to Pump Billions of Dollars Into Forest-risk Companies

June 8, 2017

The forestsandfinance.org database has been updated with the latest financial flows to forest-risk companies in Southeast Asia since 2010, revealing the major role of Japanese and Malaysian banks and investors in financing companies whose operations impact natural tropical forests and the communities that depend on them

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Major International Investors & Banks Finance Devastating Impacts of Forest-Risk Commodities

April 24, 2017

A new Forests & Finance Dossier, Every Investor Has A Responsibility, lays out the human rights, climate & biodiversity risks financiers face — and the adverse impacts they must cut ties with to successfully combat deforestation and associated human rights abuses in the tropical forest sector

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Financiers of IOI and APP face material risks from failure to respect land rights

March 22, 2017

Major palm oil producer IOI Group and pulp and paper producer APP are currently involved in separate community land rights conflicts, exposing their financiers to the risk of complicity in human rights violations and material ESG risks.

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IndoAgri’s new Sustainable Palm Oil Policy Fails to Address Key Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Risks

February 23, 2017

IndoAgri’s policy falls short on addressing key ESG risks such as protecting valuable forests, preventing the exploitation of workers or committing to independent verification of its palm oil suppliers to No Deforestation, No Peatland and No Exploitation principles.

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Greenpeace report finds HSBC is still banking on exploitation of workers & forests

January 17, 2017

HSBC is one of the largest providers of financial services to the palm oil industry. A Greenpeace report finds that, despite lending policies on forestry and agricultural commodities, HSBC has begun or maintained financial relationships with companies destroying forests.

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Sime Darby urged to resolve long-standing land rights conflict before stock exchange listing of its plantation division

January 16, 2017

Before any listing proceeds, affected communities and civil society are urging Sime Darby’s banks and investors to require Sime Darby to resolve all outstanding community conflicts and ensure the communities’ land rights are fully respected.

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explore the data

Search our database to discover the link between big banks, investors and forest-risk companies

Run searches using different filter options including finance type, bank or investor, bank or investor region, forest-risk client or group, year and forest-risk sector. The total value of loans, underwriting and bond - and shareholding is displayed below

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Show Bank/Investor Country Bank/Investor Region Client Client Country
finance type bank/investor Bank/Investor Region Bank/Investor Country Forest-risk group Forest-risk client Forest Risk Client Country amount (USD million) year Forest-risk sector

Search total (USD million)

Corporate loans & underwriting by country and sector, 2010-2016 (USD billion)

Banks from Japan, Malaysia, China, Indonesia, Singapore, the United Kingdom & the United States are the biggest financiers of 183 selected forest-risk sector companies in Southeast Asia

Top 15 loan & underwriting providers by sector, 2010-2016 (USD billion)

Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Malayan Banking, Mizuho Financial, CIMB, RHB Banking & HSBC were the biggest financiers of the 183 selected forest-risk sector companies between 2010 and 2016

Corporate loans & underwriting by sector,

The palm oil and pulp & paper sectors accounted for more than three-quarters of corporate loans & underwriting between 2010 and 2016

Bond & shareholdings by investor country in May 2017 (USD billion)


The highest level of bonds and shares in the 183 selected forest-risk sector companies in Southeast Asia are held by Malaysian investors, with the majority of investments attributable to palm oil

Top 15 bond & shareholders by sector in May 2017 (USD billion)

Investors from Malaysia, the United States, Japan,  the United Kingdom and Singapore are the biggest bond and shareholders in the 183 selected forest-risk companies in Southeast Asia – Malaysian pension funds are among the biggest investors

Bond & shareholdings by sector,
May 2017

Three-quarters of bonds & shares in the 183 selected forest-risk sector companies in Southeast Asia were attributable to the palm oil sector in 2017


view the bank profiles

See which banks are most involved and how their environmental and social policies stack up - click on a bank to find out more.
Note: this section will be updated with the revised dataset (2010-16) soon

Bank Bank/Investor Country Total value of loans,
credit & underwriting
2010-2015 (USD million)
Policy Assessment Policy Score
(out of 30)

    See the impacts

    Explore the stories to uncover the deforestation and human rights abuses linked to some bank and investor finance


    Read the briefing to find out more about the role banks and investors play in deforestation

    Forests & Finance Brochure Bank Policy Matrix Banks Haze Crisis Letter Forests & Finance Dossier

    About this project

    This website aims to highlight the role that finance plays in enabling tropical deforestation. It is the result of extensive research and investigations by a coalition of campaign and research organisations including Rainforest Action Network, TuK INDONESIA, and Profundo. Collectively, these organisations and their allies seek to achieve improved financial sector policies and systems that prevent financial institutions from supporting the kind of environmental and social abuses that are all too common in the operations of their forest-risk sector clients. For more information on this project please contact info@forestsandfinance.org.

    methodology FAQ


    This project assesses the financial services received by over 180 companies directly involved in the palm oil, pulp & paper, rubber and tropical timber (“forest-risk sector”) supply chains, whose operations impact natural tropical forests in the Asia-Pacific region.

    Financial databases Thomson EIKON, Bloomberg IJGlobal, TradeFinanceAnalytics, company register filings, as well as publicly available company reports, were used to identify corporate loans, credit and underwriting facilities provided to the selected companies in the period 2010-2016. Investments in bonds and shares of the selected companies were identified through Thomson EIKON and Bloomberg at the most recently available filing date in May 2017. This data provides a deal-level dataset of specific relationships between selected companies and any linked financial institution.

    Companies with business activities outside of the forest-risk sector had recorded amounts reduced to more accurately present the proportion of financing that can be reasonably attributed to the forest-risk sector operations of the selected company (see Adjusters). Where available financial information did not specify the purpose of investment or receiving division within the parent company group, reduction factors were individually calculated by comparing a company’s forest-risk sector activities relative to its parent group total activities.

    The commercial banks identified in this study were evaluated to determine the strength of any publicly-available policies relevant to tropical forest-sector investment decision-making, and subsequently scored against a range of criteria incorporating environmental, social and governance standards. Each of the major banks was allocated a score on the scope of its policies and its environmental and social standards.

    The data and assessments presented in this website have not been provided by or authorized by any of the financial institutions or clients concerned. While every attempt has been made to research and present data and assessments accurately and objectively, it is difficult to guarantee complete accuracy. This is not least because of the lack of consistency and transparency in how financial institutions and forest-risk sector clients record key financial and company information. Where there has been ambiguity in source information of financial services, the authors of this website have acted cautiously, resulting in a likely underestimation of the true amounts of finance involved. The authors are committed to correcting any identified errors at the earliest opportunity.

    Timeline of updates to the database and bank policy assessments:

    Sept 2016: First version of bank policy assessments and database launched, assessing financial services provided to 50 companies for their forest-risk sector production and primary processing activities.

    June 2017: Database expanded to cover over 180 companies. Methodology revised to cover entire forest-risk sector supply chains, including trading and manufacturing (see Methodology).


    What was the rationale for selecting the 183 company groups?

    The 183 company groups selected for this study are involved in the supply chains of the pulp and paper, palm oil, rubber or timber sectors in Southeast Asia – collectively referred to as ‘tropical forest-risk sectors’. This list is intended to be a representative sample of companies impacting tropical forests, but is not an exclusive list of all companies impacting tropical forests. Other factors that led to their selection include the size of the company and land area of operation, access to information on their financing, and known negative impacts of their operations on tropical forests. Please see the Methodology for further information.

    Are all of these companies engaged in harmful operations?

    Not all of the 183 companies selected for the website are engaged in harmful operations. However, all are engaged in large scale operations in tropical forests that have a high risk of causing deforestation and associated social impacts. Banks that do business with these companies are therefore highly exposed to deforestation risks.

    Which countries are included under Southeast Asia?

    Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.

    What is the basis of the finanancial information included in the website?

    Financial databases Thomson EIKON, Bloomberg IJGlobal, TradeFinanceAnalytics, company register filings, as well as publicly available company reports, were used to identify corporate loans, credit and underwriting facilities provided to the selected companies in the period 2010-2016. Investments in bonds and shares of the selected companies were identified through Thomson EIKON and Bloomberg at the most recently available filing date in May 2017. These financial databases provide access to real time market data, news, fundamental data, analytics, trading and messaging tools. Please see the Methodology for further information.

    What can I do if my bank is financing companies included on the website?

    As a first step, we recommend you check whether the bank has any policies governing their financing of tropical forest-risk sectors. Our evaluation of major bank’s policies are available here (provide link to matrix). If your bank is not included in this evaluation, you could check your bank’s website or ask them directly what policies they have in place to protect forests and people through forest-sector lending. Depending on their response, you might want to ask them to implement a policy, or you might want to find an alternative bank. Our research finds that banks with policies are still financing companies linked to deforestation. Therefore, having a policy is not a guarantee of responsible financing, but may indicate the bank is engaging their clients to improve their performance, or, they may be failing to make sure their policies are being implemented by clients. You are welcome to contact us at info@forestsandfinance.org if you require further assistance.

    What can investors do to stop deforestation?

    Investors can take a two pronged approach by addressing 1) the companies directly engaged in tropical forest-risk sectors and 2) the banks financing those companies. For both types of companies, investors should demand full disclosure of risks and application of robust ESG standards and due diligence processes. See page 4 of the Forests & Finance Brochure for more recommendations for investors.

    Who are the organizations that are hosting this website?

    Forestsandfinance.org is a joint project of Rainforest Action Network, Tuk Indonesia, and Profundo. Click on the organization name for more information on what we do individually.

    What’s the difference between the Forests and Finance policy assessment and that of the Environmental Paper Network ‘Red Lines’?

    1.       The Red Lines assessment is global, whereas forestsandfinance.org is concerned with South-East Asia

    2.       The Red Lines assessment is focused on the pulp and paper industry, whereas forestsandfinance.org covers all forest commodities.

    3.       The Red Lines assessment is concerned with the whole production supply chain, including pollution from pulp mills etc, whereas forestsandfinance.org focuses on policies about forests.

    4.       The Red Lines assessment studied banks that are either known to be the largest financiers of the global pulp and paper industry or involved in one or more projects or companies identified as ‘dodgy deals’, whereas forestsandfinance.org is potentially interested in any banks with clients involved in South-East Asian forests.

    5.       The Red Lines assessment does not give banks a score for their policies, whereas forestsandfinance.org does.

    Top 5 Forest-risk clients
    Client Amount (USD Million)
    Assets (USD Billion)

    Policy Assessment

    Policy Overview

    Scope of commitments

    Environmental standards

    Social standards

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