BlackRock Issues Investment Stewardship Statement on Agribusiness

Amazon Watch, Friends of the Earth US

For more information, contact:

Ada Recinos at +1.510.281.9020 or ada@amazonwatch.org
Myriam Fallon at +1.708.546.9001 or myriam@sunriseproject.net


Bowing to pressure from environmental, Indigenous, and human rights groups, BlackRock today issued a new investment stewardship commentary on engagement with agribusiness companies.

Moira Birss, Climate and Finance Director at Amazon Watch, said:

"BlackRock is clearly feeling the pressure from the climate and Indigenous rights movement to align its investment practices with a sustainable world, which includes how it engages with and invests in agribusiness. Its new policy identifies many of the key risk factors of the industry but does not come with any actual commitments. To be a real leader in tackling deforestation, BlackRock needs to clarify its standards for companies, the metrics it will use to measure company behavior, and consequences for violations of those standards. The Amazon rainforest is dangerously close to a tipping point driven largely by the agribusiness industry, and nothing less than strong, enforceable standards from investors will prevent further deforestation and violence against forest defenders."

Gaurav Madan, Senior Forests and Land Campaigner at Friends of the Earth US, said:

"BlackRock’s statement on engagement with agribusiness frames its approach in terms of sustainable agriculture, but the reality is that the current industrial agricultural plantation model is unsustainable, both for people and the planet. While it's good that BlackRock is beginning to recognize the land conflict, stranded asset, and reputational risks inherent in agribusiness, it needs to act on those risks by disclosing what standards it will use to gauge companies' operations and what consequences there will be for companies that continue to drive widespread deforestation, land grabbing, and human rights abuses. Without these actions it fails to address the role of deforestation in the climate crisis."

Background:

The dominant production model for industrial agricultural commodities such as palm oil, soy, cattle, and pulp and paper – which are responsible for nearly a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions – involves clearing hundreds of thousands of hectares of forests, dispossessing Indigenous and local communities, and driving protracted land conflicts. Agribusiness is one of the deadliest sectors in the world for environmental defenders and communities on the front lines of extractive industries.

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