Nordea Backs Away From Gunns’ Pulp Mill

Posted: 8 January 2010 in Australia, Gunns, New pulp mills, Nordea, Resistance

Well, that was quick…. Two days of email and tweets later, and Nordea is at least distancing itself from Gunns. But the statement that “Nordea has not made any decision or commitment to finance the project in Tasmania,” is not that same as “Nordea will not finance Gunns.” Still, good news that Nordea is at least looking nervous. Here’s a press release from the Wilderness Society and Avaaz:

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE 7 January 2010

Nordea Backs Away From Gunns’ Pulp Mill

Responds to Avaaz Campaign to Protect Forests

For the first time, Nordea bank announced today that it would not finance the Gunns’ pulp mill in Australia if its widely publicised environmental impacts were not curbed.

The announcement, made by Nordea via Twitter, came in response to a two-day blitz of public pressure. The campaign kicked off with an action from global campaign network Avaaz.org, and triggered engagement from thousands of Scandinavian citizens including many Nordea customers and shareholders.

“Avaaz.org members across Scandinavia have sent over five thousand emails and Twitter messages to Nordea in just the last two days to protect vital forests in Australia,” said Avaaz Executive Director Ricken Patel. “Many were customers threatening to take their business elsewhere if Nordea financed a pulp mill that will destroy some of the most important forests in the world.”

Nordea Communication Director Rune K. Sjøhelle responded to Avaaz’s public Twitter petition today with the announcement that Nordea “would not finance a project in the form presented in the media so far.” (See full text below and at http://act.ly/1kz ).

However, campaigners are working to ensure that Nordea lays out clear and strong environmental standards to use in evaluating whether to finance the mill.

“Until last week, Nordea was one of the only banks in the world that hadn’t ruled out financing the project in its current form,” said Paul Oosting, pulp mill campaigner for The Wilderness Society.

“Now Nordea must make clear the specific standards by which they would evaluate the project,” said Mr. Oosting.

In response to public outcry, more than 15 leading banks around the world- including all those in Australia- have publicly declined to finance the mill. One Scandinavian company Södra, has said that it would only consider the project given specific safeguards. Campaigners say that Nordea’s safeguards must be at least as strong as Södra’s and include moving the proposed mill to a more suitable site where it won’t impact human health and local fishing, farming and tourism.

“Gunns Ltd must not be permitted to shop around for a financier with the lowest environmental standards,” said Mr. Oosting. “Nordea should join Södra and insist that any pulp mill development be totally chlorine free, Forest Stewardship Council certified, fully assessed to community standards, draw 100% on existing plantations rather than native forests and be situated in a different location.

“It’s clear that Nordea is listening to its customers,” said Mr. Patel. “Now it’s time for Nordea to do the right thing and earn its customers’ applause.”

The campaign illustrates the growing reach of global civil society groups to shape the actions of international corporations.

“This campaign started with Australian Avaaz members asking Scandinavian members to take action,” Mr. Patel noted. “With new high powered global citizens’ movements like Avaaz, corporations and banks will face responsibility everywhere for what they do anywhere.”

Full statement from Nordea:

Nordea has not made any decision or commitment to finance the project in Tasmania.

When customers approach us regarding new projects, we obviously consider whether it is possible to provide financing for the project according to our policies and procedures. Social and environmental impacts are always included in our evaluation of new projects, and we do not finance projects in conflict with international norms.

We cannot comment on potential customer relationships. However, we would not finance a project in the form presented in the media so far.

As part of our Corporate Social Responsibility, Nordea is a signatory to the UN Global Compact, the UNEP FI, the Equator Principles, and supports the OECD Guidelines for multinational enterprises.

Rune Kibsgaard Sjøhelle
Head of External Communications
Nordea Bank

Resources:
Nordea Communication Director Rune K. Sjøhelle responds to twitter petition: http://act.ly/1kz
Avaaz.org action page: http://avaaz.org/en/no_pulp_mill/
More information: http://avaaz.org/nordea

Avaaz.org is a global campaign network of 3.8 million citizens who take action for a more just and peaceful world. “Avaaz” means “Voice” in many languages.

For more information contact: Paul Oosting 0409 963 734

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