Embedding Human Rights in Business Practice II

April 7, 2008

The Global Compact Office and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have announced the release of the second edition in the Embedding Human Rights in Business Practice series. The publication features 20 case studies from Global Compact signatories around the world.

Among the companies profiled are: ABB, Achilles, Anglogold Ashanti, AREVA, Barloworld, BASF, Eskom, Ipek Kagit, Ketchum, MAS Holdings, Newmont Mining Corporation, NIKE Inc, Novartis, Sasol, Royal Dutch Shell, Starbucks, Titan Industries, Volkswagen and Westpac Banking Corporation.

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Minimum Requirements for Equator Principle Reporting and one year of EPII Implementation and

September 17, 2007

A template which sets out the minimum reporting requirements for EPII has also been released. This covers:

  • An annual report;
  • The number of projects screened each year;
  • The category and number of projects reviewed;
  • A discussion on EP implementation (although the scope of this is completely up to the bank concerned).
  • The template also contains suggested formats for providing regional and sectoral information, but this is not obligatory.

The template certainly is minimal and unsurprisingly many organisations and shareholders will be expecting the banks to provide substantially more information than is set out in the requirements. Many EP banks are already providing far more information and are setting an excellent example for those that have signed up to the principles more recently.

On May 14, 26 out of 51 EPFIs met to discuss lessons learned and challenges related to EPII implementation.

6 recent adopters attended the event and made a significant contribution to the success of the meeting. EPFIs have been implementing the new Principles for nearly one year following their revision and launch in London last July. Bank of America hosted the day-long event in Washington, DC. Issues related to EPFI governance, disclosure and transparency related to Principle 10, and other items were discussed. This EPFI meeting was then followed by a 2-day series of meetings at the International Finance Corporation (IFC’s) “Community of Learning” event which focused on lessons learned from application of the IFC Performance Standards. EPFIs interacted with and heard from IFC senior management and staff, and also had the opportunity to interact with a number of environmental representatives of Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) from across the globe.


IFC Guidance to the Private Sector on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples

March 14, 2007

March 13, 2007- The International Finance Corporation (IFC) announced today the release of a new IFC publication, “ILO Convention 169 and the Private Sector: Questions and Answers for IFC Clients.”

The ILO Convention 169 and the Private Sector (PDF, 90kb) publication is intended as a practical guide for IFC clients who operate in countries that have ratified Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. It is the first guidance of its kind written for the private sector in relation to Convention 169 which is directed at governments. IFC prepared this publication, in close consultation with the ILO, in response to the experiences that IFC has had in recent years with private investments affecting indigenous peoples and their lands in Latin America.

IFC hopes this publication will help to raise awareness about the Convention and its possible implications for private sector companies, and provide added clarity and guidance for IFC clients. The publication should be read in conjunction with IFC’s Performance Standard on Indigenous Peoples.


CSR in the Australian banking sector – Westpac

January 29, 2007

Westpac has released its sixth non-financial Stakeholder Impact Report, available at www.westpac.com.au/corporateresponsibility.

The 2006 report is based on the ‘G3’ GRI guidelines, and sets out Westpac’s extended performance in building human, social and environmental capital. It also includes contributions from a number of thought leaders, suppliers and community advocates.

In the past year, Westpac has:
point Committed to the revised Equator Principles – the only Australian bank to do so;
point Launched two new ‘green’ products: the EcoNomical Home Loan and the Westpac Landcare Term Deposit account;
Continued to reduce greenhouse gas emissions –cutting emissions by over 45% since 1996;
point Contributed a total of AU$47m to the community, 1.4% of pre-tax profits; and
point Celebrated 30 years of partnership with Surf Life Saving Queensland.

The report again emphases the links between sustainability and shareholder value, with Westpac CEO, Dr David Morgan, stating that managing social, environmental and workplace performance, along with stakeholder relationships and other intangibles, is fundamentally linked to long-term shareholder value.


Banks consider how to include climate change in their investment decisions

January 25, 2007

London, 11 January: A group of investment banks is to investigate how best to include climate change in investment decisions.

The London Accord will seek to provide investors with more information on how best to make investments that address climate change. Sponsored by the City of London Corporation and BP, the project already has the support of investment banks including Morgan Stanley, Bank Sarasin, HSBC, Société Générale, Credit Suisse and Canaccord Adams.

“If you look at the field of climate change and investment decision-making, lots of people are aware of it and want to integrate it into their decisions. But not many people are sure of how you go about it,” said project director Jan-Peter Onstwedder, who was previously head of risk in BP’s supply and trading business.

Extract from Environmental Finance


Key discussions at the Ethical Finance Summit

December 5, 2006

There were some excellent discussions on the Equator Principles (EP) at the Ethical Corporation – Sustainable Finance Summit. The main hot topics were:

  • The need to manage the success of the principles. The need to prevent their extension to areas other than Project Finance weakening the brand, due to insufficient leverage in such areas.
  • The EP’s have lead to an unprecedented level of collaboration by Financial Institutions.
  • There is a lack of mechanisms for demonstrating how the adoption of the EP’s have contributed to business performance and financial benefits, but despite this FI’s are see these issues as key to their core branding.
  • There is a need for a pragmatic approach to their application, in certain situations when good project sponsors and FI’s have turned down projects with high potential environmental and social risks, the projects have been progressed by weaker parties and consequently developed more severe environmental and social problems.
  • There is a need to manage expectations about what the EP’s will achieve – e.g. they have not been established to be a tool for equity.
  • There has been a lack of developing market banks and a notable absence of leading French Banks adopting the EP’s.
  • The need for sufficient lead in times to review Finance deals to avoid situations where problems are picked up too late on a project to enable compliance.
  • Some banks are striving to be leaders in sustainability, while others believe the EP’s have created a level playing field.

Workers’ rights top list of ethical investor concerns

November 23, 2006

A survey of investor has found their key concerns include workers conditions, involvement in arms trade and environmental pollution.

Extract from Environmental Finance:

London, 16 November: Ethical fund managers should favour companies that maintain high standards of working conditions in their supply chains, according to a survey of investors released this week.

UK investment management company Standard Life polled close to 1,200 of its ethical investors, asking them to rank the issues of most importance to them.

Workers’ conditions topped the rankings, which also revealed that the environment was a major concern among investors. The provision of pollution control products or services, and the development and use renewable energy, were placed second and third in terms of importance.

Standard Life Investments manages approximately £130 billion ($245 billion) of assets, £425 million of which is ethically invested. It uses the survey to adapt its investment policy in line with investors’ views on issues such as community involvement, employment policies, corporate governance, alcohol, gambling and animal testing.

The investors said fund managers should avoid investing in companies and countries with poor human rights records, companies involved in the arms trade, and those that are responsible for clearing tropical forests.