NewsNorway Pension Fund Takes Stand Against U.K. Conglomerate Jardines Over Orangutan Habitat...

Norway Pension Fund Takes Stand Against U.K. Conglomerate Jardines Over Orangutan Habitat Protection

  • Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the largest in the world, has decided to sever connections with Jardine Matheson (Jardines) due to concerns that the conglomerate’s gold mining operations in Indonesia could harm the only known habitat of the highly endangered Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis).
  • This action by the fund adds to a growing list of 29 financial institutions that have chosen to avoid financing Jardines and its affiliates due to environmental and climate-related worries, as reported by the Financial Exclusions Tracker.
  • The Tapanuli orangutan, a species identified as recently as 2017, has an estimated population of less than 800 individuals residing in a small forested area; a significant portion of the ape’s historical range has been lost due to hunting, conflict, and agriculture.
  • The Martabe mining concession in northern Sumatra is situated within the orangutan’s primary habitat, the Batang Toru forest, which harbors the largest population of these great apes and offers the best chance for their long-term survival; concerns were raised by the fund regarding potential threats to the orangutans if the mining operations were to expand further in the area.

JAKARTA — Norway’s state pension fund has decided to sever ties with Jardine Matheson (Jardines), a British conglomerate, due to concerns over the company’s gold mining activities in Indonesia potentially causing harm to the only known habitat of the critically endangered Tapanuli orangutan.

Environmental advocates have applauded this move, noting that it should serve as a strong message for Jardines to refrain from expanding the mining operations into the orangutan habitat, and for other investors to reconsider funding enterprises that pose threats to the environment.

On February 29, the fund, which holds assets amounting to $1.6 trillion, announced its decision to divest from its investments in Jardines and two affiliated companies, Jardine Cycle & Carriage Ltd. and PT Astra International Tbk.

The Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global was a significant external investor in the conglomerate, with shares worth $236 million across the three companies by the end of 2022.

This move by Norway’s fund aligns with the decisions of 29 other financial institutions that have opted out of financing Jardine Matheson and its subsidiaries due to environmental and climate change concerns, according to data from the Financial Exclusions Tracker.

The fund’s decision was based on a recommendation from its ethics council, which found a potential risk of contributing to or being accountable for severe environmental harm associated with the mining activities.

In 2023, the council made this recommendation after evaluating the environmental impact of the Martabe gold mine concession in northern Sumatra, Indonesia. Jardines acquired this mine in 2018 through its Indonesian subsidiary, Astra International, the largest conglomerate in the country. The operation of the mine is overseen by PT Agincourt Resources (PTAR), a subsidiary of Astra International, located within the Batang Toru forest, the sole habitat of the critically endangered Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis).

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