On 20 February 2017, British bank HSBC announced the release of their revised Agricultural Commodities Policy. HSBC has strengthened their policy for palm oil by expanding their prohibited businesses commitment, making it consistent with ‘No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation’ (NDPE) policies, which are increasingly being adopted by leading companies in the palm oil sector. The policy has now also been extended to refiners and traders.
The revision of the policy is considered a significant step in demonstrating commitment to breaking ties to destructive palm oil companies. HSBC customers will not only need to make a public commitment to protect high carbon stock (HCS) forests and peat areas by the end of June 2017, but will also be required to produce evidence of the independent verification of these commitments by the end of December 2018. While the policy does not specify a methodology for the implementation of HCS protection commitments, reference is made to the HCS Convergence Agreement of November 2016, and the common methodology defined in the agreement.
The HCS Approach Steering Group hopes that other banks and finance institutions will follow HSBC’s lead in revising their policies in support of HCS forest protection.
The official statement on the release and the revised policy is available on the HSBC website here.