Brazil’s local banks fight for the Amazon
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Brazil’s local banks fight for the Amazon

The penny is finally dropping – and bankers in Brazil appear to be taking deforestation in the Amazon seriously.

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In August, Itaú – along with the other two large private-sector banks Bradesco and Santander Brasil – established the Amazon Advisory Council, which has a 10-point plan on sustainability and is manned with credible academics and environmental experts.

The leading issue is preventing meat producers illegally deforesting swathes of land to raise cattle, but there are other aspects of the plan that make broad sense if the Amazon’s resources are to be used sustainably.

Unfortunately, the impetus for this belated action came from abroad.

I am outraged I have to use this argument
Candido Bracher, Itaú

Candido Bracher, chief executive of Itaú, admits to feelings “close to humiliation” that it took foreign investors and companies pushing for greater effort on sustainability for local banks to take action.

Indeed, the fact that it has taken the banks until mid 2020 to react in any meaningful way – and to do so in such a coordinated fashion – gives the AAC the look of a defensive measure.

That it was also announced just before the height of this year’s fire season, yet doesn’t have established “clear and tangible goals and objectives” (that’s the next step, apparently), only adds to a sense that the Council is a green-washing exercise.


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