Major Brazilian companies blacklisted by Norway’s Pension Fund due to human rights violations and environmental destruction.

"This will be a rough wake-up call for Eletrobras and Vale. Companies destroying rainforests will find it harder to find investors, "says Rainforest Foundation Norway.

On the Xingú river, where pristine rainforests once stood, the monstrous Belo Monte dam now stands. It's destroyed forests, displaced tens of thousands of people and wrecked their livelihoods.

All photos: Ronny Hansen/Rainforest Foundation Norway

Oslo, Norway, May 13, 2020  

Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global today announced the exclusion of Eletrobras and Vale from their portfolio. Eletrobras was excluded for violations of the human rights of Indigenous peoples and traditional river communities in the Belo Monte hydroelectric project. Vale was excluded for serious environmental damage caused by the collapse of two tailings dams in 2015 and 2019. 

“This damning indictment of Eletrobras and Vale is likely to trigger a wave of divestment by investors internationally", says Vemund Olsen, senior advisor at Rainforest Foundation Norway.  

The decision to exclude Eletrobras and Vale was based on recommendations by the Fund’s Council on Ethics, which has carried out extensive investigations into the companies’ activities. Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) is the world’s largest Sovereign Wealth Fund, with a current value of 1 trillion US Dollars. 

«Eletrobras and Vale have been shown to cause terrible damage to vulnerable communities and ecosystems, and the GPFG believes it is likely they will continue to do so. Other investors should follow suit and divest these companies. They are taking advantage of weak government oversight in Brazil to flout basic social and environmental safeguards», Olsen says. 

"We depend on the living forest to survive,” says Giliarde Juruna, leader of the Juruna people, Muratú village, Paquiçamba indigenous territory.

Eletrobras and Belo Monte: serious human rights violations 

In its recommendation to exclude Eletrobras, the Council on Ethics for the GPFG states that the Belo Monte power plant project has had devastating effects on many indigenous territories, depriving indigenous peoples of their livelihoods.  Belo Monte has also increased pressure on indigenous territories through illegal hunting, fishing, mining, logging, land grabbing, cattle ranching, as well as caused the forced displacement of at least 20,000 people. 

“The Juruna people has not seen any benefits from the Belo Monte project. Our fish has been killed; our livelihoods ruined. Stop destroying nature! We depend on the living forest to survive,” says Giliarde Juruna, leader of the Juruna people, Muratú village, Paquiçamba indigenous territory. 

Vale: serious environmental damage  

Vale was excluded because of severe environmental damage caused by the collapse of two tailings dams in 2015 (Samarco) and 2019 (Brumadinho). Large swathes of land have been permanently damaged, watercourses have suffered widespread devastation, and hundreds of people lost their lives. The company knew about the high risk of dam breaches without taking steps to prevent it, instead covering up the risk by manipulating safety inspections.   

"Eletrobras and Vale have been shown to cause terrible damage to vulnerable communities and ecosystems"

Vemund Olsen, Rainforest Foudation Norway

“The blacklisting of Vale  is an important signal. For the past 10 years, we have participated in Vale's shareholders' meetings and we see a lack of critical positioning by large investors. This has allowed the company to aggravate socioenvironmental conflicts. Investors must  address ethical, environmental, and climate issues and set up preventive mechanisms”, says Carolina de Moura, leader of Jangada Community Association, in Brumadinho.