The Dow Jones Sustainability Index has removed the world’s second largest palm oil company, Golden Agri-Resources, from its list of sustainable companies. “Golden Agri-Resources’ removal from the Dow Jones Sustainability Index is an important step in holding the company accountable for its consistent abuses,” said Gaurav Madan, senior forests and lands campaigner for Friends of the Earth U.S. “Companies that have caused widespread environmental destruction have no place being greenwashed as sustainable.”
The company’s de-listing from the Asia-Pacific Sustainability Index comes after the arrests of palm oil executives for bribery and corruption. In October 2018, Indonesia’s anti-corruption agency arrested three executives from GAR-subsidiary PT Binasawit Abadi Pratama for bribing government officials to cover up extensive water pollution and alleged irregularities in plantation permitting in the province of Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.
“This destructive palm oil company has consistently disregarded international business and environmental norms,” said Madan. “The DJSI’s decision should send a clear message to GAR’s investors that its operations are unsustainable and linked with corruption, deforestation and egregious violations of communities’ land rights. Investors should follow the lead of the DJSI and distance themselves from GAR and other disreputable companies by ceasing to finance conflict palm oil.”
Golden Agri-Resources’ operations in Indonesia and Liberia have generated years of controversy, including consistent and well-documented allegations of deforestation, land grabbing and human rights violations. In 2018 alone, GAR and its subsidiaries were accused of clearing endangered chimpanzee habitat, establishing shadow companies to continue destructive operations and disregarding the recommendations of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil — the industry sustainability body.
GAR’s investors include some of the world’s leading financial firms, including BlackRock, Vanguard, TIAA, Dimensional Fund Advisors and Citibank. Following the DJSI’s de-listing of GAR, there will be increased pressure on these investors to cease their support for the company in light of its continued violations.
GAR was the first and only palm oil company to be listed by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index in September 2017.