2021 opens with the holding of the first international summit dedicated to the preservation of biodiversity. To mark this moment, Reclaim Finance is calling on financial actors to immediately adopt the measures necessary to limit the risks of deforestation linked to the production of soya. With our partners SumOfUs, Canopée Forêts Vivantes, Mighty Earth and Rainforest Foundation Norway, we are launching a petition denouncing the enormous levels of financing provided by BNP Paribas to soya traders and calling on Cargill’s top financier to no longer integrate soya originiating in deforested lands into its value chains.
Hosted by France, the United Nations and the World Bank, the One Planet Summit on biodiversity will bring together political, economic and financial decision-makers as well as NGOs. The objectivbe of the meeting taking place today remains the same as that at the first summit initated by Emmanuel Macron four years ago: encourage private actors to undertake new commitments in order to align their activites with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. Whilst the meeting is first and foremost given over to biodiversity, it is also recognised that its preservation must gop hand in hand with the fight against climate change.
We must act now.
Discussions are expected around the establishment of a task force on nature-related financial disclosure. The argument put forward by the actors demanding it: whatever can’t be measured can’t be protected, and we must not wait for financial actors to ado pt measures aimed at combatting the disappearance of biodiversity if they are not in a position to identify the financial risks linked to it. 59bc6d
Whilst not opposing this approach, Reclaim Finance supports an alternative path: one aimed at limiting the impact of financial institutions on biodiversity and the climate, without waiting until we have every single tool in hand to act. Because we can lready act. The main causes of deforestation, whose impacts are felt as much on the climate as on biodiversity, are already known: the breeding of cattle, the farming of palm oil, production of paper pulp, forestry and mining, and soya production.
Soya, key lever for climate and biodiversity
Soybeans, cultivated in Latin America and in particular in the Cerrado savannah in Brazil, are one of the main drivers of deforestation in the world – along with livestock. Its impacts on the environment and human rights are extremely well-documented but remain poorly understood – perhaps because soy does not end up directly on our plates but rather indirectly by serving as protein in farm animal feed.
Faced with the explosion in demand for soybeans, generated by population growth, especially in the middle classes, as well as by a continuous increase in the consumption of meat and dairy products, Cerrado is today one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet. 50% of its initial area has already been destroyed. Its disappearance would be a disaster for the climate and for biodiversity as it stores the equivalent of 13.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) and is home to 5% of the world’s biodiversity.
It’s not inevitable
The good news is that the destruction of Cerrado is not inevitable. Financial institutions can help stop the conversion linked to soybean production and thus contribute to the fight against climate change and the loss of biodiversity. The key to solving the problem lies in particular in the adoption and implementation of “zero deforestation” measures by traders such as Bunge or Cargill who market soybeans internationally.
Banks, insurers and investors must demand from traders, and in particular from the ABCD group which controls 56% of global exports, the revision of the contracts which bind them to soybean producers to include the “cut-off date” of January 1st 2020 at the latest and thus stipulate that any soybeans from soils converted before this date will no longer be accepted in the supply chains.
BNP Paribas most to blame?
BNP Paribas is the leading financier of the soya trader most responsible for soy-related deforestation: Cargill, exposed to more than 60,000 hectares of deforested soil in the Cerrado between March 2019 and November 2020, or six times the size of Paris. BNP Paribas granted it $4 billion in funding between 2016 and 2019. BNP Paribas alone is responsible for 6 of the $ 9.5 billion in funding granted by French banks to ABCDs between 2016 and 2019.
Reclaim Finance and its partners called on French financial players in September to present their soy-related demands. After a first letter sent in September, in October we published a report and organized an action in front of the entrance to Climate Finance Day. Faced with BNP Paribas’ inaction, today we are launching a petition denouncing the destructive financing of BNP Paribas and calling on the bank to establish a policy to no longer support the companies responsible for deforestation linked to soya production, starting with Cargill and ABCDs.