Don't bank on them

Noted financial institutes support projects harmful to the environs

Published: Monday 31 May 2004

a report published by wwf-Germany shows that some of the most renowned banking institutes of the world are financing environmental and social disasters. During the assessment, German, Dutch and Swiss banks were rated according to their environmental and social standards for investments. They were ranked as per their existing standards, implementation procedure and transparency in investment behaviour.

In total, 11 banks had to be assessed, as each had been criticised by non-governmental organisations in the 1990s for their investment in the Indonesian pulp, paper and palm oil sectors. The adverse consequences of their venture can be seen to date in the form of millions of hectares of deforested and devastated land across Indonesia.

Three banks -- Deutsche Bank (Germany), ikb Deutsche Industriebank (Germany) and nord/lb (Norddeutsche Landesbank, Germany) -- refused to divulge any information for the assessment. The analysis of the rest eight showed that all of them are relatively disinterested in ensuring they make environmentally and socially sound investments. While some of them have "made progress" in their standards and policies, all lacked effective implementation practices. "Most German banks especially do not take their responsibility for nature seriously," alleges Martin Geiger, a senior forest officer at wwf-Germany. In particular, the suggestion to screen forest projects through effective environmental and social criteria has not been acknowledged so far.

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