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Press release: Norway’s Government Pension Fund acts against deforestation: divests major agricultural companies

The world’s largest Sovereign Wealth Fund divests four companies, including Olam International and Sime Darby Plantation, because of financial risk arising from tropical deforestation. Rainforest Foundation Norway rejoices.

Recent deforestation for palm oil in Kalimantan. Photo: Rainforest Foundation Norway/Aidenenvironment

Oslo, Norway. February 28, 2019

The divestment from Olam International, Halcyon Agri Corp (both from Singapore), Sime Darby Plantation (Malaysia) and Sipef (Belgium), was revealed in the Government Pension Fund Global’s (GPFG) annual report, published on February 27. 

Since the GPFG in 2012 began divesting companies on account of deforestation risk, more than 60 companies have been dropped, including 33 companies involved in palm oil production. 

Olam, Sime Darby and Sipef are all involved in palm oil production, while Halcyon Agri is the first rubber company to be divested by the GPFG.

 "The GPFG has realized that deforestation reduces its long term returns on investments", says Vemund Olsen, senior adviser at Rainforest Foundation Norway.

In addition to divestments, the GPFG uses ownership engagement to induce companies to cut their ties to rainforest destruction. In a recent report on responsible investment, the GPFG announced that it is asking banks in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil to adopt No Deforestation criteria for their loans to the agricultural sector.

The Fund also engages actively with traders of soy and beef from South America, including Bunge, ADM, Marfrig and Minerva, to put an end to deforestation in their supply chains.

"It's great to see that the GPFG is taking action against deforestation.  It’s increasingly clear that companies involved in deforestation, directly or through their supply chains, are a major liability to investors Their time is soon up and their business model is outdated", says Vemund Olsen.

"The divestments announced today should be seen as a warning shot to those investors and companies still involved in deforestation. Their business model is outdated."

Forest-risk companies divested in 2018:

  • Halcyon Agri and its subsidiary Sudcam is accused of massive deforestation in Cameroon. A recent report by Greenpeace alleges that Sudcam has cleared more than 10,000 hectares of dense tropical rainforest to make way for a monoculture rubber plantation, displacing local communities and posing a threat to biodiversity near a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  •  Sime Darby Plantation runs palm oil plantations in Malaysia, Indonesia, Liberia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
  • Sipef produces forest-risk commodities like palm oil, rubber, bananas and tea in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Ivory Coast.

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