• h8.jpg
  • h7.jpg
  • h6.jpg
  • h9.jpg
  • h3.jpg
  • h11.jpg
  • h10.jpg
(Tranlsated from the original in German)
 
The Ärzteversorgung Westfalen-Lippe (ÄVWL) has withdrawn from highly problematic land purchases in Brazil after ten years. This was confirmed by ÄVWL to FIAN. The doctors' pension fund had participated in land grabbing in northeastern Brazil through a global land fund and a convoluted corporate structure. As justification for the 100 million US dollar investment, the doctors' fund paradoxically emphasized "securing the world's food supply." In Brazil, the fund co-financed by ÄVWL had bought up some 135,000 hectares of land by 2016 - especially for huge soy monocultures. This happened mainly in the Matopiba region, which is notorious for criminal land deals and enormous deforestation rates.
 
"With its millions of euros, the Doctors' Fund has irresponsibly fueled the hunt for land. Over the years, we are aware of multiple retired doctors who voiced their clear condemnation of these investments by their pension fund managers" - Roman Herre, agricultural consultant at FIAN Germany
FIAN had repeatedly called on the NRW Ministry of Finance, which is responsible for oversight, to intervene in the face of criminal machinations as well as systematic human rights violations in the context of land grabbing.

FIAN and other organizations published several reports on the situation on the ground. However, the ministry remained inactive and even refused to receive a delegation from Brazil with a spokesperson from affected communities. Even in the face of debates on sustainable finance and the supply chain law, this is an indictment of a public authority. For more than ten years, the ÄVWL had been aware of the problems on the ground.
 
"The fact that the doctors' fund has now quietly jettisoned this investment, we also see as a success of our work and that of our members, who have repeatedly pointed out this investment to those responsible in politics and the medical profession," says Herre, assessing the latest development. "Unfortunately, the doctors' fund has not commented on whether it is making any attempts to provide any form of support to the affected communities in Brazil after the exit."
 
Background
- TIAA (formerly TIAA-CREF) is one of the largest pension plans in the world, administering pensions for teachers and professors and entertainment workers in the United States. In 2012, it launched a $2 billion fund under the name TIAA-CREF Global Agriculture LLC (TCGA) to purchase farmland worldwide. In addition to ÄVWL, other pension funds from around the world have invested money in the fund. A second, $3 billion farmland fund (TCGA II) followed in 2015. Today, both funds are managed by TIAA subsidiary's Nuveen.
- ÄVWL is a professional pension fund responsible for providing retirements for more than 50,000 doctors and their family members. It manages assets of more than ten billion euros and contributed about 80 million euros ($100 million) to the TCGA fund in 2012.
- The Matopiba region in eastern Brazil is home to the Cerrado, a large savanna region rich in biodiversity and the second largest ecosystem in Brazil after the Amazon. The savanna region has a large and important groundwater reservoir for Brazil. The population living in the area, among them more than 80 indigenous groups, is mainly engaged in cattle breeding and agriculture. Due to the rapid expansion of cattle farms and industrial monocultures, especially for genetically engineered soy, a large part of the ecosystem is threatened or already destroyed.
- Land as an object of speculation: Pension funds worldwide are now investing more than $56.5 trillion (i.e., 56,500 billion) to generate returns for their retirees. In their quest to diversify their portfolios and find attractive, low-risk investment opportunities, they have increasingly been buying agricultural land for a good 10 years. This hunt for land is also known as "land grabbing."
Press contact: Roman Herre, Agriculture Officer, FIAN Germany, Tel: 0221-47449113, Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.