Over 200 institutional investors, representing $16.2 trillion assets under management, called on companies to take urgent action against the devastating rainforest fires which started last month.
“It is with deep concern that we follow the escalating crisis of deforestation and forest fires in Brazil and Bolivia,” the investors said in a statement released by U.S.-based Ceres, a nongovernmental organization, on Wednesday.
“As investors, who have a fiduciary duty to act in the best long-term interests of our beneficiaries, we recognize the crucial role that tropical forests play in tackling climate change, protecting biodiversity and ensuring ecosystem services,” the statement added.
Among the 230 signatories are some of the largest investment managers and asset owners from around the world, including HSBC Global Asset Management and BNP Paribas Asset Management.
“Deforestation and loss of biodiversity are not only environmental problems. There are significant negative economic effects associated with these issues and they represent a risk that we as investors cannot ignore,” said CEO of Storebrand Asset Management Jan Erik Saugestad.
While Lauren Compere, Boston Common Asset Management, stressed that the escalating crisis in Brazil and Bolivia is “a clear indicator of the ongoing risks to the global economy from the combined impacts of climate change, deforestation and land-use changes”.
“As investors, we have a responsibility to address these threats within our portfolios across the value chain from agricultural producers to the banks that finance them,” Compere said.
The joint declaration also urged companies to implement a “no deforestation policy,” assess and reduce the risks their supply chains pose to forests, establish a transparent monitoring system and report annually on “deforestation risk exposure and management”.
According to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, a total of 82,285 wildfires have been detected in Brazil since January, with more than 40,000 in the Amazon area, a rise of 83% from to the previous year.