The climate-critical Amazon rainforest is under major threat from destructive agribusiness. Brazil is also one of the deadliest countries in the world for land and environmental defenders, many of them from indigenous communities.

Under President Jair Bolsanaro, the alarming destruction of the Brazilian Amazon has intensified. His government’s aggressive weakening of forest protection and promotion of policies to expand industrial-scale mining and agribusiness in the Amazon have grave consequences for indigenous peoples, as well as for the global climate. The rate of deforestation in indigenous territories is rising sharply – with a 74% increase from 2018 to 2019.

Those who stand up to protect their land and forests face violence and the shrinking of space in which to peacefully protest. We recorded 24 murders of land and environment defenders in Brazil in 2019, the third-highest number in the world. Almost 90% of these deaths were in the Amazon. We are working to ensure that these defenders, many of whom are from indigenous communities, are protected and their voices heard.

Meanwhile, through our forests campaign, we aim to cut off the money flowing into destructive industries which are wrecking the Brazilian Amazon and other climate-critical forests. In the Amazon alone, 70% of current destruction is driven by the cattle sector.

In our 2019 report, Money to Burn, we documented how iconic banks and investors have provided substantial financial support to the largest cattle buyers in the Brazilian Amazon.

In 2020, we revealed that one of the UK’s most high-profile hedge funders, Crispin Odey, owned a sizeable stake in Brazilian firm SLC Agricola. This agribusiness has cleared at least 30,000 hectares of the Cerrado, a forested savannah region equal in size to Spain, France, Germany, Italy and the UK combined. A few months after our investigation was published, it was reported that SLC Agricola’s Director of Sustainability had announced an end to deforestation in the Cerrado.

Meanwhile, throughout advocacy work with partners we are seeking to change the behaviour of investors in Brazil. For instance, with Brazil’s development bank set to sell shares in JBS and Marfrig in 2019, we co-signed an open letter to would-be investors warning of the risk of exposure to Amazon deforestation. The letter received sign-ons from organisations on five continents and made the international and Brazilian press.
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Razing the stakes

Controversial hedge fund tycoon Crispin Odey invested more than US$170m into one of Brazil’s most damaging agribusinesses despite it deforesting large areas and receiving numerous environmental fines
Petrobras headquarters, Brazil. Credit: Getty

Friends in low places

The world’s top two commodity traders Vitol and Glencore used middlemen notorious for their role in Brazil’s mammoth ‘Car Wash’ bribery scandal, Global Witness investigation with Switzerland’s Public Eye reveals.