BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street Invested $46 Billion in Amazon Oil Companies Tied to Indigenous Rights Violations and Rainforest Destruction

New report by environmental and human rights organization, Amazon Watch, highlights case studies on billions in amazon oil investments by the "Big Three" asset managers

Amazon Watch

For more information, contact:

Ada Recinos at ada@amazonwatch.org or +1.510.473.7542


Oakland, CA – A new report from human rights and environmental justice group Amazon Watch, Investing in Amazon Crude II: How the Big Three Asset Managers Actively Fund the Amazon Oil Industry, details how the world's largest asset managers, known as the "Big Three" – BlackRock, State Street, and Vanguard – are providing debt and equity investment in oil companies operating throughout the Amazon rainforest that cause Indigenous rights abuses, destroy the rainforest, and warm the climate.

The report outlines case studies of Indigenous and frontline resistance to oil projects in the Amazon, exposing not only the oil companies involved in rights violations but the asset management firms whose investments enable them to exist. In total, BlackRock, State Street, and Vanguard hold $46 billion in debt and equity in oil companies currently operating in the Amazon rainforest, $2 billion of which is held in debt and equity in the oil companies examined in depth in the report.

  • BlackRock holds at least $6 billion in debt and $24.2 billion in equities in oil companies currently operating in the Amazon rainforest, including $1.5 billion in combined debt and equity in the companies investigated in the report's case studies.
  • Vanguard holds over $2.6 billion in debt and $9.6 billion in equities in oil companies currently operating in the Amazon rainforest, including over $503 million in combined debt and equity in companies investigated in the report's case studies.
  • State Street holds $460 million in debt and $2.7 billion in equities in oil companies currently operating in the Amazon rainforest, including $19.5 million in combined debt and equity in companies investigated in the report's case studies.

In late May, the International Energy Association published a new "roadmap" for the energy sector in which it argued that the world needs a "radical" shift in energy sources in order for the world to meet the 1.5°C global warming limit goal, as laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement. The report affirmed that "there is no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply in our net zero pathway."

The "Big Three" manage trillions of dollars of investments for individual and institutional investors all over the world. Together they control nearly 20 trillion dollars. By investing in oil companies with horrific environmental and human rights records, they are actively supporting the Indigenous and human rights abuses, forest destruction, biodiversity loss, and further climate chaos inherent in oil production in the Amazon rainforest.

The Amazon Watch report provides numerous examples of local opposition to oil projects. It outlines, for example, the decades-long struggle of the Kichwa Peoples of Sarayaku in the Ecuadorian Amazon to stop oil companies ENAP and Petroamazonas from continuing to drill and spill devastating amounts of oil in their territories, which overlap Ecuadorian oil Block 28. Currently, BlackRock and Vanguard control $1.2 billion of debt and equity in ENAP and Petroamazonas, despite public statements both firms have made about the importance of environmental sustainability.

Patricia Gualinga, a historic leader of the original Kichwa Sarayaku people, a leader of Mujeres Amazonicas, and a defender for Indigenous rights and the rights of nature said, "Asset managers must stop supporting companies that violate human rights, commit genocide and ethnocide in our territories, disregard women's rights, and affect our environment. Indigenous territories protect life on this planet. Financial institutions must generate a global conscience to save this world, and all corporations that invest in fossil fuels must initiate a profound transition that protects life on this planet and our Amazon."

Concern around links between major financial firms and Indigenous rights, biodiversity loss, and climate change is mounting. In early 2021, communities impacted by GeoPark – a Chilean oil company with operations in the Colombian Amazon that BlackRock, State Street, and Vanguard collectively own over $10.4 million of debt and equity in – denounced that the company was actively paying paramilitary forces to threaten and intimidate local residents of the campesino community known as Perla Amazónica, in Putumayo, Colombia, in order to ensure that oil operations could continue. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had previously partnered with GeoPark on an "economic revitalization" project for the region, but quietly cut ties with the oil company after its links with paramilitary groups were made clear. This is only the latest in a long history of extractive companies disregarding the health and safety of local communities.

"As long as the world's largest investors choose to place profits over people by continuing to pour money into the fossil fuel industry in the Amazon, our entire planet is at risk. BlackRock, State Street, and Vanguard must end their complicity in Indigenous rights abuses, forest destruction, and climate chaos," said Moira Birss, Climate and Finance Director at Amazon Watch.

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