Daily ESG Briefing: GRI heading new sustainability charter for South East Asia

The latest developments in sustainable finance

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The Global Reporting Initiative is working with experts in South East Asia on a Charter on Sustainability Imperatives, to be published “soon”. Representatives from organisations including Mahindra & Mahindra, UN India, UNDP Bangladesh and GAIL India Ltd, are finalising the charter, which “commits to a decade of urgent action in South Asia to ensure the completion of the Sustainable Development Goals”. Signatories will be required to adhere to relevant laws, act ethically, publicly disclose their environmental and social performance, and sign up to “at least two” more SDG-linked initiatives as part of the agreement. 

The UK Government is consulting on a new law that would see companies fined for using products involved in illegal deforestation. The rules, if introduced, would relate to palm oil, soil, cocoa, leather and beef, and would force big businesses to conduct thorough due diligence on their supply chains. 

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility has criticised Rio Tinto’s internal review of how it manages cultural heritage, prompted by the destruction of 46,000-year-old caves at the Juukan Gorge. James Fitzgerald, Strategy Lead at the not-for-profit, said the financial penalty of A$7m is “completely off the mark of the damage caused” and called for the CEO and head of cultural heritage to step down. 

80% of advisors believe that being made to ask clients about ESG will be a positive development, but fewer than 20% have fully integrated it into their business, according to a survey of 100 UK advisers by investment firm Rathbones. The survey comes as regulation known as MIFID is updated to include questions around sustainability and impact in suitability tests. Additionally, although the survey found more than three quarters of advisers were confident around the terms ‘ESG’, ‘socially responsible’ and ‘ethical’, 60% said their understanding of ‘impact investing’ was ‘weak’ or ‘very weak.’ 20% of advisers claimed to understand the difference between the above terms, but are unsure how to apply them to their portfolios.

Federated Hermes has joined up with Oxford University, the University of California Berkeley, Brighthouse, WLRK and the British Academy to release ‘ENACTING PURPOSE WITHIN THE MODERN CORPORATION: A Framework for Boards of Directors’. The report aims to provide boards and senior executives with a framework to govern corporate purpose, and highlights best practice.