France's Axa to invest 1.5 bln euros to fight deforestation



PARIS, Oct 14 (Reuters) - French insurer Axa said on Thursday it will invest 1.5 billion euros ($1.74 billion) to support sustainable forest management as part of new commitments to fight deforestation and preserve biodiversity.

The announcement comes a day after more than 100 countries called for urgent action on biodiversity with the 'Kunming Declaration' in China.

Axa said its investment plan includes 500 million euros in reforestation projects in emerging countries.

"Deforestation is one of the main causes of biodiversity loss and carbon emissions," the insurer said in a statement.

"It even represents a double loss for the climate because forests make are the greatest contributors to carbon capture," it added.

China's environment minister Huang Runqiu said on Wednesday that representatives from more than 100 countries have adopted the "Kunming Declaration" to create momentum for a new global biodiversity pact.

Huang told the United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Kunming the main purpose of the declaration was to "reflect the political will of all parties and send a strong message to the international community about our strong determination and consensus in the field of biodiversity".

Axa also announced it would strengthen its investment and insurance requirements in businesses that actively contribute to deforestation.

"This will concern certain soy, palm oil, timber, and cattle production in regions where these industries strongly contribute to deforestation," Axa said.

Axa Investment Managers, Axa's asset management unit, said in June it has expanded its palm oil investment strategy to exclude companies involved in major land use controversies or in causing biodiversity loss due to soy, cattle and timber.

($1 = 0.8630 euros)
Reporting by Matthieu Protard; Editing by David Gregorio

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