Urgent letter of concern for the safety of land and human rights defenders impacted by the Korindo Group and POSCO International, from 126 NGOs

To: Korindo Group POSCO International Indonesian Presidential Staff Office / Kantor Staf Presiden Chief of Police, Indonesian National Police / Kapolri, Kepolisian Negara Republik Indonesia Office of the Inspectorate General of the National Police / Kantor Inspektorat Jenderal Kepolisian Nasional Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission / Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi National Human Rights Commission Indonesia / Komisi […]

MUFG fails to commit to Paris alignment at 2020 AGM

ESG financing policy now weakest among Japanese megabanks Tokyo, Japan – Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), Japan’s largest bank, indicated at today’s annual shareholder meeting that it has no intention to phase out its financing of fossil fuels or deforestation, a necessary condition for alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement and meeting the standards set […]

MUFG Falls Behind Peers in New ESG Finance Policy Announcement

MUFG’s policy revisions “disappointing,” says Rainforest Action Network  Japan’s largest bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), released a revised Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) financing policy today, but fell short of its global and domestic peers –– most notably Mizuho Financial Group (Mizuho) and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMBC Group). Rainforest Action Network (RAN), which […]

Indofood takes advantage of pandemic outbreak to lay off hundreds of palm oil workers

If you haven’t been following Indofood’s trail of labor exploitation and peat destruction since 2016, check out our previous blog here. About this time last year, Rainforest Action Network (RAN), International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) and Indonesian labor rights organization OPPUK were still grappling with the implications of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)’s […]

Asian banks increase financing of rogue palm oil company Indofood, filling void left by Citi, Rabobank and Standard Chartered loan cancellations

Banks and investors are under increasing scrutiny for their financing of commodities driving tropical deforestation, and rightly so. The environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks associated with these controversial sectors — illegality, land grabbing, peatland and rainforest destruction, fires and labor abuses, to name a few — can carry significant reputational and financial risks for […]

FSC CAPITULATES TO KORINDO, ASSISTS IN COVER-UP

Following a 2-year investigation by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) into Korindo, the FSC released on Monday 5th November a summary of its findings. It confirms Korindo was engaged in widespread deforestation and human rights violations. However, in a blow to the communities and forests devastated by the company, the FSC failed to apply its […]

methodology FAQ

methodology

This project assesses the financial services received by over 190 companies directly involved in the palm oil, pulp and paper, rubber and tropical timber (“forest-risk sector”) supply chains, whose operations impact natural tropical forests in the Southeast Asia 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 2010-2019 (August). Investments by institutional investors in bonds and shares of the selected companies were identified through Thomson EIKON and Bloomberg at the most recently available filing date in August 2019. This data provides a deal-level dataset of specific relationships between selected companies and any linked financial institution. Of the 195 companies researched, only 103 companies had identifiable financing where the financier, financing amount, and start date were known.

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-risk 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 Forests & Finance Bank Policy Assessment Methodology is based on the Fair Finance Guide (FFG) with a focus on the forest-risk sector. See the Bank Policy Matrix 2018 for more details of the scoring criteria and compiled scores.

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

December 2018: Database updated and expanded to cover over 190 companies. Bank policy assessments completed for over 30 banks with updated ESG assessment criteria. (see Methodology).

November 2019: Dataset updated with financing information for over 100 companies up to August 2019.

faq

What was the rationale for selecting the 195 company groups?

The 195 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, and is not an exhaustive 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 195 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?

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

What is the basis of the financial 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 2010-2018 (June). Investments in bonds and shares of the selected companies were identified through Thomson EIKON and Bloomberg at the most recently available filing date in July 2018. 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 is available here. 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.

How was the bank policy assessment conducted?

For our assessment of bank policies, we selected 31 out of 35 financial institutions with the most significant financial exposure to the forest-risk sector in Southeast Asia. The assessments were based only on publicly available information, and each bank was given an opportunity to comment on the draft assessment prior to publication. The assessment scores the bank on the scope of its policy implementation and the environmental, social and governance standards that are expected of their clients. The scores are out of a total of 50 points,

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.

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 forestsfinance.wpengine.com is concerned with Southeast Asia

2. The Red Lines assessment is focused on the pulp and paper industry, whereas forestsfinance.wpengine.com covers all forest-risk commodities in Southeast Asia.

3. The Red Lines assessment is concerned with the whole production supply chain, including pollution from pulp mills etc, whereas forestsfinance.wpengine.com focuses on policies is more concerned with forests and human rights.

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 forestsfinance.wpengine.com is potentially interested in any banks with clients involved in Southeast Asian forests.

5. The Red Lines assessment does not give banks a score for their policies, whereas forestsfinance.wpengine.com does.

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.