World Bank withdraws loan to Brazilian cattle giant

Investment driving Amazon destruction and fuelling climate change

Press release - 14 June, 2009
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private lending arm of the World Bank, has withdrawn a USD 90 million loan to Brazil's cattle giant Bertin. The loan was used for the company to further expand into the Amazon region, which was causing destruction of the rainforest and fuelling global climate change.

"It is good news that the World Bank is withdrawing these funds, yet scandalous that it was feeding a company that causes Amazon deforestation and climate change in the first place.  It must now guarantee that it will not invest in such damaging projects in the future," said Paulo Adario, Greenpeace Brazil's Amazon campaign director.

The move comes two weeks after a Greenpeace report, "Slaughtering the Amazon"(1), revealed that financial backing of the Brazilian cattle industry by the IFC and President Lula's government -via its national development bank (BNDES) - has led the industry to become the largest single source of deforestation in the world(2) and a major source of global greenhouse gas emissions.

By helping Bertin to expand into the Amazon, the IFC has been driving further destruction of the rainforest, a haven for biodiversity and one of the world's key defences against climate change. For a bank that portrays itself as the 'knowledge bank', this was a very ill-conceived and thoroughly destructive use of its resources.

The last USD 30 million hand-out from the IFC will no longer be given to Bertin and it is anticipated that the IFC will ask that the USD 60 million it has already invested in the company be returned earlier than previously agreed. The World Bank Group is set to lend another USD 1.3 billion to Brazil for 'environmental protection'.

Tropical deforestation is responsible for approximately 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Brazil ranks as the world's fourth biggest climate polluter, largely because of Amazon destruction.

Greenpeace is calling on all Heads of State to take personal responsibility for securing an effective climate saving deal by attending the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen in December and guaranteeing a positive outcome. This would include providing USD 110 million a year for developing countries to tackle the climate crisis, USD 40 million a year of which should go towards forest protection in return for commitments to end deforestation in the Amazon by 2015 and by 2020 globally.

Other contacts: Judy Rodrigues, Greenpeace International forests campaigner
+31646166299 (Europe)

Caroline Donatti, Greenpeace Brazil communications
+559281144497 (in Manaus, Brazil)

Notes: (1) The Greenpeace report also exposed how Bertin, JBS and Marfrig, which supply the global market with cattle products for top brands and supermarkets worldwide, buy cattle from Amazon farms involved in slavery, illegal deforestation and the invasion of indigenous lands.

(2) The cattle sector in the Amazon accounts for nearly 14 per cent of annual deforestation (1.72 million ha/yr Amazon deforestation attributable to cattle and 12.57 million ha/yr of world gross deforestation). For more details refer to 'Slaughtering the Amazon' endnote 5 and endnote 85.