Friends of the Earth’s report, ‘What’s your pension funding? How UK institutional investors finance the global land grab’, highlights the investments of UK institutional investors, such as British Airways Pension Fund, Legal & General and Standard Life, in companies accused of grabbing land, destroying the environment, and undermining sustainable livelihoods.
Examples of land grabbing include farmers being kidnapped and murdered in order to gain access to coal, and the forest habitat of the Borean orangutan being destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations.
The report argues that not only are there issues surrounding the moral implications of such investments, they are often far riskier than is initially apparent.
Investments in large-scale land acquisitions often encounter setbacks. These include governments unexpectedly taking the land away from the company and/or the land becoming unusable due to quicker than expected environmental degradation. Recent events have also shown that the investors, and companies, involved are putting their reputations at risk, with negative stories gaining traction in the international media.
Friends of the Earth state that, in the absence of appropriate laws and regulations that would rule out the majority of associated negative impacts, UK institutional investors should not be investing UK citizens’ money in companies involved or associated with large-scale land acquisitions.
“Our future retirement funds are often being secured at the expense of the poor and powerless through widespread land grabbing – in some cases our pensions are actually under threat of being wiped-out due to the risky nature of large-scale land acquisition deals.
"There needs to be stringent international laws to rule out all of the impacts associated with land grabbing – UK investors must stop funding companies linked to this scandal."
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