Indigenous leaders from the Amazon region, supported by about 60 people from dozens of groups, delivered a petition to the world's biggest investor in rainforest destruction.
During a busy Climate Week in New York City, a delegation of Indigenous peoples delivered 260,000 petition signatures to BlackRock demanding they stop funding Amazon deforestation and climate destruction. None other than BlackRock's CEO Larry Fink had to make his way through the protesters to get to work this morning.
Our message: We'll keep coming back until BlackRock changes its funding practices.
Here is the press release that came out today:
Brazilians and U.S. Allies Deliver Petition to BlackRock Urging It to Act for the Amazon
In the wake of fires raging across the Amazon rainforest, indigenous leaders from Brazil, accompanied by U.S. environmental organizations and environmental justice activists, delivered to the headquarters of BlackRock, the world’s largest financial firm, their calls for an end to the corporate greed of Wall Street enabling the racist and destructive policies of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. BlackRock security attempted to block the delegation from delivering their message, but a company representative eventually received it after the group refused to leave.
The crux of this message was a detailed letter to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink from the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) laying out the findings of the report it published in April with Amazon Watch. The report traced BlackRock’s investments in the beef and soy traders – like JBS and Bunge – implicated in Amazon deforestation. The letter also reminds Mr. Fink that APIB’s legal representative, Eloy Terena, attended BlackRock’s annual general meeting in May to warn Mr. Fink about the looming indigenous rights and environmental crisis in Brazil and urge him to use his power as a key investor to stem the crisis. Fink brushed aside Terena’s warning, but the Amazon fires demonstrate that Terena was tragically prescient.
Allies from Amazon Watch, Daily Kos, CREDO Action, RAN, MoveOn, the Sierra Club, NYCC, Friends of the Earth US, Green America, indigenous representatives from Ecuador, and others, delivered a petition signed by over 260,000 people around the world calling on BlackRock to stop investing in the worst actors in the Amazon.
Brazil’s President Bolsonaro, who is most directly responsible for the fires due to his rollback of environmental and indigenous rights protections and his reckless anti-environmental rhetoric, attended the U.N. General Assembly nearby, and many of the activists joined the petition delivery after directly protesting Bolsonaro’s presence at the U.N.
BlackRock has substantial investments in Brazil and expanded operations in the country after Bolsonaro took office, citing “significant” investment opportunities. According to a recent report from Amazon Watch and Friends of the Earth US, BlackRock pumps more money into the companies most responsible for rainforest destruction than any other investor. Yet as recently as this week, it refused to sign onto a letter in which 230 other investors, representing $16.2 trillion USD in assets under management, called for companies to take urgent action on deforestation in light of the devastating fires. BlackRock has also yet to respond to a direct offer from Amazon Watch, Friends of the Earth US, Rainforest Action Network, and Greenpeace US to discuss concrete actions it can take to respond to the fires and agribusiness-driven deforestation in Brazil.
As the biggest investor in deforestation and agribusiness companies, BlackRock has the power to put pressure on the Brazilian government to end its tolerance for environmental destruction and reverse its policies. Instead, the Wall Street giant continues to profit from the companies directly linked to the destruction of the Amazon and violence against environmental defenders who dare to defy illegal logging and land grabbing.
Dinamam Tuxá, Executive Coordinator of the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), said: “BlackRock is a powerful economic actor that provides significant financing for the expansion of agribusiness. Protests that raise global awareness on the true impacts of this company’s financing are very important because they show how it drives deforestation, the destruction of indigenous lands, and the genocide of indigenous peoples. We need to understand who is behind these environmental crimes. Without public exposure these realities could go unnoticed.”
Moira Birss, Finance Campaign Director at Amazon Watch, said: “The fires still raging in the Amazon clearly demonstrate the risk that agribusiness expansion poses for the Amazon rainforest, indigenous peoples, and the global climate. By expanding investments in the very industries complicit in that destruction, BlackRock is emboldening right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro to continue his quest to raze the Amazon for profit-making. Amazon Watch is proud to stand with our indigenous partners in Brazil to hold the corporate actors enabling Bolsonaro’s destructive agenda accountable. They won’t back down, and neither will we.”