Welcome to the EIRIS responsible investment blog. Get our perspectives on the latest trends and developments in responsible investment and corporate social responsibility.
Social risks in consumer finance and the challenges posed by cash-lending companies were the issues in focus at the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) panel in Melbourne, Australia on the 9th of July. The panel was attended by three analysts from CAER, an EIRIS global partner.
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EIRIS Foundation Launches Database on Investment in Crimea and Palestine
- Today, building on its 30-year history of providing free and objective information on ethical finance and corporate activity to the public, the EIRIS Foundation announced the release of a new online database of companies (BusinessInOccupiedLands.org) in Crimea and Palestine. For the first time, businesses, civil society, media and the investor community will have access to objective and comprehensive information about corporate operations in these two occupied territories.
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“Every company, investor and bank that screens new and existing investments for climate risk is simply being pragmatic”
Jim Yong Kim President of the World Bank in a speech at Davos
The last few weeks have seen a number of investors showing the pragmatism advocated by Jim Yong Kim by looking to address the climate change risks from companies in their portfolios, specifically around thermal coal and tar sands. Read more >
Stewardship, decarbonisation and whether Japan can create a whole new approach to responsible investment seemed to dominate RI Asia this year in Tokyo.
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On a number of occasions recently I’ve been invited to speak about shareholder engagement and advocacy. These are at the heart of EIRIS Conflict Risk Network’s work, which focuses on research and engagement on conflict-affected regions. Since 2012, EIRIS Conflict Risk Network has been facilitating a coordinated approach to investment in Burma/Myanmar designed to raise the standards for doing business in the country. The Network’s provision of information and analysis encourages investment in companies that contribute to peace, to development of a sustainable economy and to securing long-term reforms in Burma/Myanmar. Here I share reflections on five key steps EIRIS Conflict Risk Network has taken to coordinate and conduct this engagement.
EIRIS Conflict Risk Network is about to release the second instalment of Investment Watch: Burma/Myanmar, launched earlier this year, to investor subscribers. This service identifies public companies with investments in Burma/Myanmar; provides in-depth profiles and assessments of publicly listed companies investing in the country; and provides analysis of corporate disclosures under the US Responsible Investment Reporting Requirements. These are the steps we’ve taken to get this far: Read more >
For some, the announcement on 11 June 2014 that SOCO International, a UK-listed oil and gas company, would not drill in the Virunga National Park – a designated world heritage site in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – and not conduct any future operations in any other world heritage sites, was a major breakthrough. However, it wasn’t just conservationists that welcomed this news – major investors did too.
The Virunga National Park is home to thousands of bird, plant and mammal species, including the largest concentration of hippopotami in Africa and, of course, the famous mountain gorillas[i]. The park is also protected by the World Heritage Convention that both the UK and DRC governments have ratified. Operating in such valuable protected ecosystems can be risky from a conservation perspective but also from an investment perspective. Read more >
Although in the digital age attention has focused on data security and cyber attacks, this has arguably changed in the last year. Views may differ on whether or not former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden is a hero or traitor to his country, but there is no disputing that his disclosure in mid 2013 of the extent of mass surveillance and data harvesting undertaken by US and UK security agencies, through such operational surveillance programmes as NSA’s PRISM and GCHQ’s Tempora, have heightened the debate and changed the public discourse around state security and personal privacy. Civil liberty sympathizers voice outrage at what they regard as intrusions into private communications, whilst those more concerned with the protection of society from such dangers as terrorism, will regard it as a necessary deed.
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Sustainability issues are often not clear cut and simple. Research expertise on an ESG issue, its changing context or regional variations can often help investors to develop an investment approach or inform an investment strategy over time. Take biofuels as an example: the biofuels issue is a complex and contested one, with potential negative impacts but also potential positive contributions towards current global ESG challenges. The widespread production of crop-based biofuels (so called “first generation biofuels”) may cause several environmental and social problems, as it arguably competes with securing sufficient food, land and water for a growing world population. Here we look at why biofuels is contested and how one investor, German church bank Bank für Kirche und Caritas eG (BKC), has found a pathway through.
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As global competition for resources becomes more intense, the extractives industry increasingly finds itself operating in countries with oppressive regimes. This includes countries where extrajudicial killings occur, individuals are imprisoned without trial and the freedom of the press is restricted. As of May 2014, data collected by EIRIS shows that nearly 61% of companies in the resources sector operate in high risk environments from a human rights perspective. In addition, about half of these companies operate in countries that are subject to international sanctions of some form.
Experience shows that companies operating in these regions are likely to face controversies. Over a quarter of the resource companies that operate in these countries have significant allegations against them – relating to human rights abuses, breaches of international labour standards, corruption, severe biodiversity impacts and environmental pollution. Read more >
A year ago this week, on 20 May, President Thein Sein became the first leader of Burma/Myanmar to visit the White House in almost 50 years. A few days later, new US Government Reporting Requirements took effect. All US companies making new investments of $500,000 or more in Burma/Myanmar became obliged to reveal information related to human rights, anti-corruption, the environment and other responsible investment issues. Read more >