Bunge* Commits to Strengthen its No-Deforestation Commitment as Traders Feel Increasing Pressure
Green Century has successfully withdrawn its shareholder proposal regarding deforestation with Bunge Ltd., a leading agricultural commodity processor and trader, after negotiating a set of commitments with the company.
Contact: Marissa LaFave, Green Century Capital Management, email@example.com, 617-482-0800
BOSTON, May 15, 2018 – Green Century has withdrawn a shareholder proposal filed with Bunge Ltd. (“Bunge”) after the company agreed to strengthen its no-deforestation policy to include legal deforestation and a public non-compliant supplier process. The proposal was filed late last year with the New York State Common Retirement Fund after evidence of significant deforestation in Brazil was linked to Bunge’s soy supply chain.
Bunge is one of four global commodity traders – often referred to as “the ABCD” companies, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM)*, Bunge, Cargill* and Louis Dreyfus* – that dominate the global agricultural commodity industry. Among these four, Bunge and Cargill are most closely connected to commodity-driven deforestation in Brazil.
“The challenge of ending soy-driven deforestation is almost exclusively in the hands of these four companies,” said Leslie Samuelrich, President of Green Century. “As a result, this win is particularly significant.”
One-third of the world’s forests are found in Brazil, where Bunge is the largest agricultural exporter. Bunge is a top soy trader in Brazil’s Cerrado, a vast biodiverse region that is experiencing increasing rates of deforestation due to agricultural expansion. The Cerrado has recently drawn the attention of many investors, companies, and environmental groups, and in January 2018, 61 food companies including Unilever*, McDonald’s*, and Walmart* called for the end of deforestation and native vegetation loss in the region. As reported by The New York Times in February 2017, Bunge is linked to more than 1.4 million acres of deforestation in the Cerrado between 2011 and 2015, largely driven by soy production.
In 2015, Bunge committed to ending deforestation in its supply chains by 2025, though fulfillment of this commitment was jeopardized by inadequate measures to address legal deforestation and the lack of a formal process to assess supplier compliance and remove non-compliant suppliers. Recent evidence of continued large-scale legal deforestation within Bunge’s soy supply chain led Green Century to file a shareholder proposal in December 2017, asking the company to address these specific concerns.
After several months of negotiation, Bunge committed to strengthen its no-deforestation policy to include legal deforestation and a public non-compliance process, paving the way for other commodity traders to take greater responsibility in ensuring the implementation of their commitments.
Commercial agriculture drives around two-thirds of tropical deforestation, leading to immense carbon emissions, water cycle disruptions, land and community conflicts, and threatened wildlife. Recognizing these risks, over 450 companies have committed to eliminate deforestation within their supply chains. However, the success of many of these commitments relies on the implementation of no-deforestation commitments by upstream companies like Bunge and Cargill.
Green Century will continue engaging Bunge as it executes its agreement and has reached out to Cargill to do the same. Cargill, similarly to Bunge, has a no-deforestation policy in place, yet an April 2018 report linked Cargill’s soy supply chain to deforestation in the Cerrado.
“All of the commodity traders face challenges and opportunities in implementing zero-deforestation policies,” said Marissa LaFave, Shareholder Advocate at Green Century. “In the global effort to end the risks of agriculture-driven deforestation, it is critical that all parties act responsibly in their supply chains.”
To learn more about Green Century’s sustainable investment strategy, advocacy efforts, and how you can make an impact with the power of your investments, please visit our Why Choose Green Century webpages or call 1-800-934-7336.
About Green Century Capital Management
Green Century Capital Management is the investment advisor to the Green Century Funds and offers three environmentally and socially responsible funds, the Green Century International Index Fund, the Green Century Equity Fund, and the Green Century Balanced Fund. Green Century works to curb climate change through fossil fuel free investing, reinvestment in sustainable companies, and advocating with companies to improve their environmental policies and supply chains.
*As of March 31, 2018, Bunge Ltd., Archer Daniels Midland, Unilever NV, Unilever PLC, and McDonald’s Corporation comprised 0.00%, 0.10% and 0.00%; 0.00%, 0.23% and 0.00%; 1.59%, 0.00% and 2.37%; 0.00%, 0.00% and 1.80%; and 0.00%, 1.20% and 0.00% of the Green Century Balanced Fund, the Green Century Equity Fund, and the Green Century MSCI International Index Fund respectively. No other securities mentioned were held in any of the portfolios of the Green Century Funds as of the same date. References to specific securities, which will change due to ongoing management of the Funds, should not be construed as a recommendation by the Funds, their administrator, or their distributor.
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The Green Century Funds are distributed by UMB Distribution Services, LLC. 5/18
 Mighty Earth analysis linked Bunge to more than 1.4 million acres of deforestation in the Cerrado region of Brazil between 2011 and 2015, as reported by The New York Times in February 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/24/business/energy-environment/deforestation-brazil-bolivia-south-america.html
 A Chain Reaction Research report from December 2017 linked Bunge’s soy supply chain to further deforestation in the Cerrado. https://chainreactionresearch.com/report/bunge-key-position-in-cerrado-state-puts-zero-deforestation-commitment-at-risk/
 A Chain Reaction Research report from April 2018 linked Cargill’s soy supply chain to deforestation in the Cerrado. https://chainreactionresearch.com/report/cargill-zero-deforestation-approach-leaves-room-for-land-clearing-in-brazils-maranhao/