I am a Brazilian scholar-activist currently doing a PhD at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in the Netherlands. My PhD work analyzes interactions of social movements, NGOs and transnational corporations in agribusiness and mining (producers, traders and investors) on issues of climate and land. I did my Bachelor of Law at the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR) in Brazil and my MA in Development Studies at ISS. In Brazil I worked with rural social movements through activist collectives and in Brazilian state agencies on issues such as right to land and territories, access to higher education and socio-environmental conflicts.
As growing critical attention of scholar-activists has focused on the mechanisms and effects of financialization in agriculture and land, it is equally important to analyze the concurrently emerging activist efforts around financial actors and the effects of these mobilizations. A series of recent international campaigns and mobilizations of NGOs, social movements and activist networks have pressured or engaged with pension funds, banks, asset managers and other types of institutional investors. Whereas transnational campaigns around divestment from fossil fuels have typically gained more global attention and have struck some significant victories recently, efforts more focused on land rights or on the confluence of environmental and agrarian issues have also gained space and are adopting similar strategies of pressuring institutional investors more directly.
I try to untangle and analyze these interactions by exploring the developments in recent international campaigns on issues of climate and agrarian justice targeting the asset manager BlackRock and the pension fund and asset manager TIAA. I analyze emerging trends resulting from activism around finance, such as new forms of disclosures and reporting on responsible investment, growing use of ESG metrics and discourse, new “green” portfolios and investment options, as well as the broader rise of “shareholder activism” with its new forms of corporate engagement.
Affiliation: International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Netherlands