East African protesters have taken to the streets of London to demonstrate against banks that do business with Bidco Africa, highlighting the connection between global financial institutions, The Prince of Wales and widespread deforestation in Africa.
Barclays and Standard Chartered saw their London headquarters picketed due to their funding of Nairobi-based Bidco, a company that cuts down thousands of acres of pristine rainforest in Uganda, and engages in human rights and tax violations in Kenya and Tanzania.
The Bidco Truth Coalition, an activist alliance, has revealed that the Banking Environment Initiative (BEI), based at Cambridge University’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership under the patronage of The Prince of Wales, is failing in its mission to lead the banking industry in collectively directing capital towards environmentally and socially sustainable economic development.
The BEI’s nine member banks are Barclays, Standard Chartered, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Lloyds, Northern Trust, RBS, Santander and Westpac.
By signing up to BEI’s ‘Soft Commodities’ Compact, the nine banks have committed to only direct capital towards sustainable business models and achieve zero net deforestation among their client companies.
Under BEI guidelines, member banks must drop clients that don’t measure up to socially and environmentally responsible policies.
Bidco Africa, which has engaged in multiple human rights, labour, tax and environmental violations, has publically stated that it does business with Barclays, Standard Chartered, Citibank, Equity Bank and Kenya Commercial Bank.
Bidco owns an oil palm plantation that has deforested 18,000 acres of rainforest in Uganda. Bidco has also grabbed land from over 100 smallholder farmers.
The environmental impact of the palm oil project has led activists to call on the UN Global Compact to eject Bidco from its roster of members.
In 2004, the World Bank pulled out of Bidco’s Uganda project, citing violations of the World Bank’s anti-deforestation policies.
But BEI has remained silent, and Barclays, Standard Chartered and other banks continue to do business with Bidco Africa.
The Bidco Truth Coalition calls on BEI, its patron, The Prince of Wales, and BEI’s nine member banks to publically state that they will no longer do business with Bidco and other companies that destroy the environment.