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Press release October 2, 2009 Business

Finance is one of the economic sectors most often targeted by activists and NGOs, and campaigning against banks and other financial institutions has been rising rapidly across the world in recent months, claimed a global survey of NGOs published today.

The survey, Where are NGOs concentrating their campaigning resources?, published by SIGWatch, a German-based consultancy which tracks NGOs and their campaigns found financial institutions experienced more NGO attacks in the first nine months of 2009 than even nuclear energy, pesticides and the plastics industry. Only oil and gas, food, and mining companies were more vilified. 

“NGOs target banks to get them to exert leverage over commercial customers on issues like climate change and rainforest protection,” said Robert Blood, author of the report and director of SIGWatch. 

“That this pressure has been increasing in recent months suggests NGOs consider banks a soft target at a time when public sympathy for bankers is low.” 

SIGWatch said NGO tactics have also changed in the last year. “We are seeing fewer ‘soft’ campaigns of persuasion over matters like environmental and social responsibility principles, and more deliberate targeting of individual institutions to split them from clients the NGOs don’t approve of. This strategy was pioneered by animal rights groups and can be highly effective if pursued with psychological intimidation of senior executives,” said Robert Blood. 

SIGWatch said financial institutions are being targeted in North America mainly over their links with coal mining and oil, Canadian oil sands and firms active in countries with unsavoury regimes. European NGOs are hostile about oil sands and fossil fuels too, but rising up their agenda are bank ties to arms manufacturers and the use of tax havens. In Asia and South America, activists are also concerned about bank investments in large dams, fossil fuels and nuclear energy. 

Readers can download a free copy of the SIGWatch report, which surveys all industry sectors, globally and by world region, from

Note for editors

You can download this report from

SIGWatch specializes in global NGO tracking and issues analysis. Headquartered in Freiburg, Germany with partners in the U.S. and Canada, SIGWatch has over 50 clients, nearly all multinational companies, banks, major PR consultancies and high profile industry associations. SIGWatch services are also used by several business and management schools for teaching and academic research. 

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Media contact: Robert Blood on [email protected] or +49 176 6257 1577
Contact Robert Blood for a live remote online demonstration of SIGWatch.