TIAA/Nuveen Needs a Deforestation and Land Grab-Free investment policy


Along with its subsidiary Nuveen, TIAA is one of the largest pension funds in the U.S. Despite its reputation for social responsibility, TIAA is also one of the world’s largest investors in fossil fuels and agribusiness, and the largest investor of farmland in the world, with almost 2 million acres of farmland on four continents worth as much as $10 billion.

But TIAA’s agribusiness investments and farmland deals are causing more harm than it lets on. These deals are driving land grabs, deforestation, and human rights violations, and they’re squeezing out family farmers and rural communities.

Demand that TIAA stop buying farmland and institute a No Deforestation Policy

TIAA is buying farmland in countries and in regions where land grabbing and fraud are widespread. Its activities are both contributing to and benefiting from the dispossession of local communities, increasing hunger, and violence. TIAA’s farmland deals also come at a heavy ecological cost. They are destroying the environment and contaminating water sources because they promote and spread a plantation model of agriculture that relies heavily on chemical inputs.

TIAA also holds millions of dollars of shares in palm oil, timber and beef producers like Tyson, Hormel, International Paper and Golden-Agri Resources, but has resisted efforts to pressure these companies to address their deforestation problem.

Tell TIAA to adopt a No Deforestation Policy and get out of farmland altogether.

As a firm that manages funds for academics and non-profits, TIAA should be especially rigorous in its environmental and social standards. Together we can pressure it to change course.

Urge TIAA/Nuveen to adopt a No Deforestation Policy!

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To: TIAA/Nuveen
From: [Your Name]

Dear Members of TIAA’s Corporate Governance and Social Responsibility Committee:

I have serious concerns about TIAA’s involvement in land grabbing, deforestation, and human rights violations through its holdings in deforestation-risk commodities and its direct acquisitions of farmland.

Massive deforestation to clear land for palm oil, pulp and paper, soy, rubber, timber and cattle is responsible for almost one quarter of all global greenhouse gas emissions, as well as an epidemic of land conflicts and widespread abuses of the rights of indigenous peoples. As an investment firm that holds millions of dollars in shares in the agribusiness companies most responsible for devastating our rainforests, these issues expose you and your clients to a host of material risks.
Environmental and human rights impacts – and climate impacts above all – are increasingly recognized to drive material risks to investment. Awareness of these risks is growing quickly within the financial sector – and now is the time for you to get on board.

Leading responsible investment firms have begun to develop comprehensive policies to address deforestation risk, and I believe TIAA needs to do the same. It is both a moral and an economic imperative. You have tremendous power – and the world needs you to start using that power responsibly. I urge you to adopt a strong deforestation risk policy across all your portfolios.

In addition, given TIAA/Nuveen’s approach to farmland investment, I ask you to halt your acquisitions of farmland, especially in fragile ecosystems and areas where land title is strongly contested and to engage in an effort to return lands in the Brazilian Cerrado to local community management.

Thank you.