Sector policies

Strict oversight of our investment and financing activities

Coal, palm oil, defence, agriculture, nuclear energy... How do we oversee our activities in sectors with high social and environmental stakes?

As the country's leading bank and a subsidiary of one of the main European groups, BNP Paribas Fortis is aware of the considerable impact that its financing and investment activities can have.

We therefore aim not only to maximise our positive impact (by supporting socially and environmentally friendly projects), but also to reduce our negative impact, by strictly overseeing our activities in sectors that present social and environmental risks. This is the case, for example, in the coal, palm oil, defence and even unconventional hydrocarbons sectors.

Sector policies

In these 'sensitive' sectors, BNP Paribas Fortis complies with the sector policies published by the BNP Paribas Group. Under these policies developed in consultation with independent experts, we base our financing and investment decisions not only on economic performance criteria but also on environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria.

The primary objective of sector policies is to influence corporate practices in the right direction. While they set conditions that must be met (the 'mandatory' criteria), they also establish evaluation criteria, which enable us to engage in dialogue with our clients to encourage them to be even more respectful of human rights and to move towards a low-carbon economy.

BNP Paribas has also banned any financing or investment transactions for a range of goods and activities, such as asbestos, controversial weapons, drift nets for fishing and, since 2017, tobacco.

To date, nine sectors have been subjected to in-depth analysis:


Intensive cultivation of palm oil contributes to deforestation and, consequently, to the decline of biodiversity and the aggravation of climate change. Operating conditions and respect for local populations are also particularly sensitive social criteria in this sector.

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While acknowledging the right of governments to defend themselves and their national security, the Group takes into account the fact that the defence sector presents specific ESG risks linked to the status of certain weapons, their potential end use and the risk of corruption

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Nuclear energy

By publishing this policy, BNP Paribas wishes to ensure that the projects it contributes to financing comply with the principles of environmental and social impact control and mitigation for the nuclear energy sector.

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Paper pulp

Pulp production is an important source of income that helps to guarantee a standard of living for millions of people in developed and emerging countries. However, demand for paper-based products will increase in the coming decade and this development is likely to have global environmental impacts.

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Coal-fired power generation

A balance must be found between the need for increased access to electricity and economic development, and the need to reduce CO₂ emissions, which is essential to mitigate climate change. BNP Paribas has chosen to no longer finance new coal-fired power plant projects and to support only electricity-producing companies that are actively participating in the energy transition undertaken in their country.

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Aware of the significant environmental issues posed by the mining sector, the Group specifies in this sector policy its refusal to finance projects with major impacts on biodiversity and human rights. In addition, only companies with plans to measure their water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and waste management will be supported.

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Agriculture is one of the world's largest sectors in terms of employment and GDP, as well as a livelihood for millions of individuals, both in developed and developing countries. However, if not properly managed, the development of agriculture could have adverse consequences for local communities, ecosystems and the climate.

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Oil & gas

As part of its policy, BNP Paribas has stopped financing dedicated to oil projects since 2016. The Group has also discontinued its commercial relations with unconventional hydrocarbon specialists (shale gas, oil from tar sands) and no longer provides dedicated funding for projects to develop new oil or gas fields, regardless of financing methods. Moreover, BNP Paribas has stepped up its restrictions on financing ecosystems that are especially sensitive in Amazonia and the Arctic. In May 2022, for example, BNP Paribas extended its definition of the Arctic by adopting the definition of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme.

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In 2017, BNP Paribas ended its financing and investment activities relating to tobacco companies. This decision concerns all business stakeholders in the sector whose activity is mainly dedicated to tobacco. The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies tobacco as the leading cause of preventable death.

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The fight against deforestation

BNP Paribas has defined its policy to fight deforestation in the Amazon and Cerrado regions. Beef and soya production in Brazil is accelerating deforestation in the Amazon and Cerrado. Whether legal or illegal, this threatens the ecological integrity and future of these two biomes. In the face of this degradation, there is an urgent need for all relevant stakeholders to prioritise land-use strategies that reconcile zero deforestation, sustainable production and positive social impact.

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