Methodology

This project assesses the financial services received by over 300 companies directly involved in the beef, soy, palm oil, pulp and paper, rubber and tropical timber (“forest-risk sector”) supply chains, whose operations may impact natural tropical forests in Southeast Asia, Central and West Africa, and in parts of South America.

Banker running away with money

Financial Data

Financial Databases Bloomberg, Refinitiv (formerly known as Thomson EIKON), TradeFinanceAnalytics, and IJGlobal), company reports (annual, interim, quarterly) and other company publications, company register filings, as well as media and analyst reports were used to identify corporate loans and underwriting facilities provided to the selected companies for the period 2013-2020 (April). Investments in bonds and shares of the selected companies were identified through Refinitiv, Thomson EMAXX and Bloomberg at the most recently available filing date in April 2021.

The BNDES Transparency portal and Brazil’s Central Bank portal were used to identify additional financial flows to forest-risk companies in Brazil.

This research provides a deal-level dataset of specific relationships between selected companies and any linked financial institution. Of the more than 300 companies researched, only 230 companies had identifiable financing where the financier, financing amount, and start date were known within the period of study.

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. Further adjusters were calculated for companies operating in multiple geographies within the scope of this research.

Policy Assessments

The objective of the F&F Policy Assessment Methodology is to assess the quality and robustness of the financing and investment policies which financial institutions have adopted to avoid getting involved in, or contributing to, deforestation and related environmental, social and governance issues. The 35 assessment criteria included in the F&F Policy Assessment Methodology are based on international agreements, and conventions (mostly from bodies linked to the United Nations, such as the ILO and UNEP) and best practices in the global business community and the financial sector with respect to forest-risk commodities. For each criteria a scoring table is set up whereby 10 points are granted if the financial institution commits unequivocally to the criteria and applies it to the company and its suppliers, and 8.5 points are granted if the financial institution commits only partially to the criteria, often because the criteria is not applied to the suppliers of the company. The scores for all 35 criteria are added up and then normalized on a scale from 0 to 10.

Scores are assigned separately for each forest-risk commodity in which the bank or investor is involved in through its financings and/or investments. Each bank or investor therefore gets up to six scores for the different commodities (beef, palm oil, pulp and paper, rubber, soy and timber), plus an overall score. This overall score is calculated by using the financing and investment data in the Forests & Finance database (covering the period January 2016 – June 2020). Based on the total financing and investments found for a particular financial institution, the percentages going to each commodity are calculated. These percentages are combined with the policy scores for each commodity, to calculate the overall score for the financial institution.

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

September 2020: Dataset updated and expanded to cover not only Southeast Asia, but also Central &West Africa, and Brazil. The new dataset includes two additional sectors: beef and soy, and now covers over 300 of the largest forest-risk commodity companies.

June 2021: Policy assessment updated and expanded to cover 50 of the largest financial institutions financing forest-risk commodity companies in Southeast Asia, but also Central &West Africa, and Brazil. The bond and shareholding data was also updated to reflect holdings in April 2021. In addition, Alicorp and Nutresa were added for they soy and beef operations respectively. For Cargill and Minerva, beef scope expanded outside of Brazil to Argentina, Colombia, Paraguay. For all traders, soy scope expanded to Argentina and Bolivia.

How is Forests & Finance Different?

  • From Environmental Paper Network Red Lines?

    The Red Lines assessment is global, whereas the Forests & Finance assessment focuses on companies operating in Southeast Asia; The Red Lines assessment is focused on the pulp and paper industry, whereas forestsandfinance.org covers 6 forest-risk commodities (beef, soy, palm oil, pulp & paper, timber and rubber); and the Red Lines assessment does not give banks a score for their policies, whereas forestsandfinance.org does.

  • From Forest 500?

    The Forests & Finance policy assessment has more detailed criteria related to deforestation and the protection of human rights, labour rights and traditional people’s rights. Forest 500 has more detailed criteria on the scope of policies, on their implementation at the Financial Institution level and on reporting on them.

  • From the Fair Finance Guide?

    The Fair Finance Guide only covers Financial Institutions in 14 countries. This includes Indonesia, Brazil and Japan, but does not include Malaysia, China or the US, countries whose banks play a big role in the financing of deforestation-risk commodities. The Forests & Finance methodology is based on that of the Fair Finance Guide, but includes more “shalls” than “shoulds”. Forests & Finance also has more detailed criteria on biodiversity protection, labour protection, respect for international conventions and tax structures. The Fair Finance Guide includes a requirement for FSC certification, where Forests & Finance requires “credible certification”, and Fair Finance Guide has more detailed criteria on reporting and on chain of custody policies that companies should implement.

  • From Trase Finance?

    Audience
    Trase Finance is targeted at a financial audience, providing risk analysis, portfolio assessments, and extensive supply chain mapping.
    Forests & Finance is targeted at CSOs and journalists, providing a fully searchable database and quick links to case studies, reports and articles on the ESG impacts of companies and financiers.

    Scope
    Trase Finance covers Brazilian beef, Brazilian soy and Indonesian palm oil.
    Forests & Finance covers beef, soy, palm oil, pulp and paper, timber and rubber, in Southeast Asia, Brazil and Central and West Africa.

    Data
    Trase Finance only lists outstanding bonds & loans, does not adjust finance by sector nor by region, updates equity data every 3 months, has less data on loans and underwriting than Forests & Finance.
    Forests & Finance lists all loans, issuances underwriting services, bond holdings and shareholdings for which information was found, it adjusts values by sector and region, to provide a more precise view of the finance flows, and it updates data once a year.

    Policies
    Trase Finance uses the Forest 500 policy scores. And while the Forest 500 policy assessment does include criteria on FPIC and on labour rights, the focus of Trase.Finance is on deforestation.
    Forests & Finance has its own policy assessment, which though similar, has more granularity on forest and human rights related questions.

    Legal hierarchy and corporate network
    Trase Finance provides ownership structures as well as maps of the corporate networks, which can be filtered by deforestation risk.

     

  • From Financial Databases

    The data on the Forests & Finance website is largely sourced from Financial Databases such as Refinitiv (formerly known as Thomson EIKON), Bloomberg IJGlobal, TradeFinanceAnalytics. However, the values on the forests and finance site are adjusted per sector and per region. 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. Companies with operations in multiple regions also 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 in a specific region (see Adjusters).