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Citigroup, the world’s largest project finance bank, provided financing for extractive projects such as mining, logging, and oil exploration. Some of these projects took place in developing countries and in rainforests and other endangered ecosystems.
In 2000 the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) launched its Global Finance Campaign with Citigroup as the target. The goal was to convince Citigroup, and eventually all lenders, to stop financing destructive activities in endangered ecosystems.
The campaign began in early April 2000 when RAN wrote to Citigroup urging it to take action to address its role in financing the destruction of the world’s remaining old growth forests and the acceleration of climate change. Shortly thereafter, at Citigroup’s annual meeting, RAN campaigners questioned the board of directors and CEO Sandy Weill in front of an audience of shareholders. Citigroup agreed to meet with RAN immediately following the annual meeting.
For the next two years Citigroup and RAN held regular meetings, while RAN continued its protest activities. RAN placed ads in prominent publications, organized “Days of Action” during which protestors hung banners, marched in front of Citibank branches, and conducted other acts of nonviolent civil disobedience to draw attention to Citigroup. Mike Brune, executive director of RAN, believed that Citigroup was stalling; the meetings were discussions, not negotiations.
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Case No: P42A