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Robeco to use satellite imagery to detect deforestation

SatelliteRobeco has struck an agreement enabling it to detect deforestation in order to make way for new palm oil trees in Malaysia and Indonesia. The Rotterdam-headquartered asset manager is collaborating with Satelligence, a Utrecht-based company with two decades of experience in leveraging imagery on deforestation, on the initiative. “Satelligence accesses data from satellites that can take high-quality pictures from orbit, allowing ‘before-and-after’ comparisons to be made continuously,” Robeco said in a statement. “The imagery comes from satellites operated by the European Space Agency (ESA), the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency and NASA, orbiting 700 km above South-East Asia, West Africa and Central and South America.” Robeco added: “The satellites can target different crops subject to sustainability issues, including cocoa, soy and timber. Artificial intelligence is used to enhance the data analysis and keep track of quickly moving events. Continuously updated, it provides a real-time commodity map of the world.” According to Robeco, the data can be used to engage with plantation owners, traders, intermediaries and other figures in the supply chain. It can also be used to raise suspicions about criminal activities to the authorities. Scientists from the Wageningen University in the Netherlands helped developed the methods. “Deforestation and other climate-related risks could also pose a major threat to investors’ portfolios,” said Niels Wielaard, director of Satelligence. “So for financial institutions, it is crucial to be at the forefront of making impact measurable and visible. “Through our collaboration, we help Robeco identify risks, and enable them to start concrete discussions with companies about where and how they should change their business conduct to prevent deforestation,” added Wielaard. ©2019 funds global asia

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