AFRICA: 15 banks commit to reducing the impact of their assets on biodiversity

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AFRICA: 15 banks commit to reducing the impact of their assets on biodiversity © Rich Carey /Shutterstock

At least 15 banks have joined the Partnership for Biodiversity Accounting Financials (PBAF) launched by ASN Bank, ACTIAM, the Netherlands Development Finance Corporation (FMO), Robeco, Triodos Bank and Triple Jump. The aim of the partnership is to measure and report on the impact of financial institutions' investments on biodiversity around the world. Some of the new PBAF members have assets in Africa.

New members of the Partnership for Biodiversity Accounting Financials (PBAF) include ABN AMRO Bank, APG, Achmea Investment Management, a.s.r. vermogensbeheer, BNP Paribas, Volksbank, Finance in Motion, FirstRand Group, NN Investment Partners, NWB Bank, Piraeus Financial Holdings, Rabobank, Rathbone Greenbank Investments, UFF African Agri Investments and Van Lanschot Kempen.

The aim of the partnership in which these financial institutions engage is to measure and report on the impact of their investments on biodiversity. As such, the PBAF, through its reports, encourages the reduction of investments with high environmental impacts. These investments are listed particularly in the agricultural sector, especially in cash crops such as cocoa, oil palm, rubber, etc.

A necessary step…

These crops are destroying the forests of the Congo Basin and devastating virgin vegetation in West Africa, mainly in Ivory Coast and Ghana. In addition, mining activities cause pollution of water bodies and accelerate the degradation of ecosystems. The stakes are therefore high for these profit-driven financial institutions, in a global context marked by a growing awareness of biodiversity degradation.

Read also- Africa cannot escape the acceleration of global biodiversity loss!

“A growing number of banks and insurance companies are realising that biodiversity loss is a major threat to society and the economy and that action is needed now. Through our lending and investments, we can limit the damage to ecosystems and contribute to the protection and restoration of nature. To do this, we need a common approach to measuring our impact and using data, as we have done before in the climate debate,” says Roel Nozeman, Senior Biodiversity Advisor at ASN Bank and Chair of PBAF.

Pressure from NGOs

Launched in 2019, the PBAF has already published a first report in 2020 called “Common Ground”, at a UN convention on biodiversity. The 2021 report should present common measures to mitigate the impact of the partnership’s members’ investments on biodiversity. The PBAF plans to form several working groups that will address several issues, including the impact of agricultural sector investments on biodiversity, the impact of equity investment on biodiversity, and the impact of agroforestry, forestry on biodiversity and ecosystem restoration.

The joint action of these banks is also prompted by non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The investments of these financial institutions are often denounced by NGOs, such as Greenpeace. Recently, this environmental organisation criticised the Deutsche Bank for financing an agricultural project that would result in the destruction of 10,000 hectares of forest in southern Cameroon. The German bank decided to finance a concession granted by the Cameroonian authorities to Sudcam Hevea.   The local subsidiary of the Singaporean rubber giant Halcyon Agri wants to raze the equatorial forest to create a vast rubber plantation.

Jean Marie Takouleu


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