Deforestation and land-use has been one of our thematic focus areas for a long time and is centered on the agricultural commodities, which are collectively responsible for 80% of deforestation.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that approximately 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions are due to agriculture, deforestation and land-use changes. In our work on this topic, we have set expectations towards companies, practiced active ownership through engagement, excluded companies from all funds (including our passive funds), and chosen not to invest in certain companies in our active funds.
As a large shareholder our ambition is to use our influence for the good
Our engagement work with companies on deforestation and land-use is implemented through several channels:
- Through our engagement consultant, with clear goals and milestones on progress achieved.
- Through three initiatives coordinated by the UNPRI and Ceres focused on cattle products, palm oil, and soy.
- In Norway and the Nordics, where we are a large, influential shareholder, we are, for instance, proactively engaging with aquaculture companies on use of soy in feed, amongst other relevant ESG issues. It is important for companies buying commodities from Brazil to ensure that certification standards are working properly (through audits and traceability) and seek more sustainable sources of protein in the long-term.
In addition to climate change, these working groups also address issues related to water and human rights.
Through these channels, work to prevent deforestation associated with the production of soft-commodities by working for:
- Improved transparency of disclosures
- Improved traceability throughout supply chains
- Obtaining full commitments to no deforestation
Where we do not see progress in the right direction we exclude companies from our investment universe
Through these channels, we have been in dialogue with many companies, many of which we are not currently a shareholder in. Where we do not see progress towards our goals, we may exclude companies from our investment universe as a last resort. We have excluded several companies since 2013 on the basis of palm oil and associated deforestation risk. More recently, JBS SA was excluded due to issues including serious corruption and soft commodity supply chain management and its associated deforestation risk.
We have ongoing discussions with relevant NGOs and are looking at whether we can set any additional expectations towards companies on this topic through our expectations documents. Also, following recent developments in Brazil, we have been in contact with relevant investor collaborations, and are now working to determine how we can together make a positive impact in this challenging situation.
Author: Laura N. McTavish/ ESG