15 May 2023

KiwiSaver investments in companies supporting deforestation on the rise

2:08 pm on 15 May 2023
The left hand holds money. Right hand holding a earth There is a bokeh background. Design concept Nature or capitalism. element of the picture is decorated by NASA

Mindful Money founder and chief executive Barry Coates says the total amount of New Zealand investment into companies that contribute to deforestation has grown to $68m, with $40m of that from KiwiSaver accounts. Photo: 123RF

About $40 million of KiwiSaver investments are supporting companies contributing to deforestation.

A study by the charity Mindful Money said an increasing amount of New Zealand investments were directed towards companies known to be major contributors to deforestation, operating in sectors such as palm oil, beef, and soybeans.

Mindful Money founder and chief executive Barry Coates said the total amount of investment into these companies had grown to $68m, from $38m the year earlier, with $40m from KiwiSaver accounts.

"Surveys show that the vast majority of New Zealanders want to avoid environmental damage from their investments, yet their funds are invested in companies that have been identified as drivers of deforestation," Coates said.

"It is time that New Zealanders take a stand and use their financial power to support sustainable development and combat global deforestation."

Investors should challenge their fund managers to disclose which, if any, of the investments were financing the deforestation of tropical forests in the Amazon basin, the Congo basin and South East Asia, he said.

"It is crucial for our investment sector to adopt policies that exclude support for deforestation-causing activities or demand urgent changes in the policies and practices of the companies involved.

"They must assure clients and the public that their investments will not contribute to climate damage, biodiversity loss, or the violation of indigenous and forest-dwelling peoples' rights."

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