European banks and pension funds fuel land-grabs in Uganda
By Friends of the Earth Europe | Brussels, May 21 2013
European banks and pension funds continue to finance one of the largest and most
destructive palm oil giants Wilmar International, according to new research
released today by Friends of the Earth Europe . Well known banks including
HSBC, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and Rabobank offer financial assistance to
Wilmar valuing over one billion euro, and European and American financial
institutions own shares in the company worth €621 million .
International owns oil palm plantation and refiners in Indonesia and Malaysia
. New research from Friends of the Earth Europe links Wilmar's subsidiaries
on Kalangala Island, Uganda to land-grabs and violations of both national laws
and environmental legislation .
The project has led to the
deforestation of around 3,600 hectares in Kalangala and displaced farmers
and their families with no compensation or alternative livelihood options,
robbing a large number of islanders of their food, medicine, and
Anne van Schaik, accountable finance campaigner at Friends of
the Earth Europe said: "Investors need to push Wilmar to clean up its act, or
put their money elsewhere. Wilmar and its subsidiaries, backed by European
money, are forcing communities from their land in Uganda."
of investors and financiers have sustainability principles guiding investments,
with some requiring companies to uphold international standards - the UN Global
Compact Principles, OECD Guidelines and Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil
(RSPO). However, investors are failing to act despite clear violations by Wilmar
of these criteria, according to Friends of the Earth Europe.
Schaik continued: "Financial institutions have sustainability principles, but
don't act despite clear violations by Wilmar. These violations are not new -
Wilmar has been involved in land rights conflicts and the violation of
environmental standards for many years. Investors and financiers need to put
their money where their mouth is."
Friends of the Earth Europe is calling
on investors and financiers of Wilmar to pressure the company to clean up its
operations, or risk divestment. European banks and pension funds should not
be contributing to land conflicts with local communities, deforestation or to
companies who violate national law. Wilmar should bring an immediate end to
land-grabbing, ensure adequate compensation, and any future development should
obey national law and ensure free, prior and informed consent from affected
Friends of the Earth Europe contacted the major financiers of Wilmar
International in Europe who have shares or given out loans to Wilmar in the past
three years including HSBC (€921 million), BNP Paribas (€241 million), Deutsche
Bank (€24 million) and Rabobank (€222 million) as well as Dutch pension funds
ABP and Pensioenfonds Zorg en Welzijn which own shares in Wilmar. Some of
these investors have responded by saying that they have contacted Wilmar and are
satisfied with its response.
 Palm oil is commonly used
in agrofuels, which are putting major and growing pressure on our land, food and
forests. European countries have set targets and subsidies for agrofuels, to
meet EU renewable energy goals, but these targets have driven the expansion of
plantations overseas. Legislation on agrofuels is currently being debated in the
European Parliament and Council: Friends of the Earth Europe is urging the EU to
cap and then reduce to zero such fuels, as well as introduce full
carbon accounting to prevent high carbon fuels like palm oil biodiesel from
being sold in Europe.
 Wilmar's subsidiaries are accused of violating
the National Environmental Act (1988), the Ugandan constitution (1995), the Land
Acquisition Act (1965) and the Land Act (1998).
Anne van Schaik, accountable finance campaigner,
Friends of the Earth Europe Tel: +31 6 2434 3968, email:
Sam Fleet, communications officer, Friends of
the Earth Europe Tel: +32 (0) 2893 1012, email: