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RI Briefing, August 3: India launches responsible business guidelines

RI’s regular round-up of responsible investing news

India’s Ministry of Corporate Affairs has launched the National Voluntary Guidelines on Social, Environmental & Economic Responsibilities of Business. The 58-page code, which builds on Corporate Social Responsibility Voluntary Guidelines released in 2009, provide a framework for companies to address interests of stakeholders such as employees, customers and investors.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions has now officially entered into force in the Netherlands. Campaign group IKV Pax Christi has called for a legal ban on investments in cluster munitions companies; motions on the matter have been adopted in both the House of Representatives and Senate. “IKV Pax Christi calls upon the government to implement these motions and put in place a prohibition on investments in producers of cluster munitions,” it said.

A recording of MSCI ESG Research’s recent webinar ‘Integrating ESG into the Investment Process’ is now available. The panellists included: Remy Briand, Managing Director & Global Head of Index and ESG Research, MSCI; Roger Urwin, Global Head of Investment Content, Towers Watson; Rob Lake, Director of Strategic Development, PRI. Link

The TIAACREF Institute is inviting entries for the 2011 TIAACREF Paul A. Samuelson Award for Outstanding Scholarly Writing on Lifelong Financial Security. The award, named in honour of the first American to win the Nobel Prize in economics and a former CREF Trustee, includes a cash prize of $10,000. The award will be presented at the annual meeting of the Allied Social Science Association in Chicago in January 2012. Submissions must be postmarked by September 10, 2011. Link

Dow Jones Indexes has launched the Dow Jones Islamic Market RBP US 50 Index. It will measure the largest 50 US stocks ranked by both Transparent Value’s ‘Required Business Performance’ (RBP) analysis and Sharia compliance screening. The index universe includes all the companies in the Dow Jones US Large-Cap and Mid-Cap indices. Release*Environmental, social and governance research* house Sustainalytics has released a report which finds strong links between sustainability and shareholder value at mining companies. The study – Sustainability and Materiality in the Natural Resource Sector: Mining – finds that effective management in four key areas, namely society and community; employee relations; operations and climate change, was positively linked to shareholder value.

The “Big Society bank” has been officially launched by the UK government. The now renamed Big Society Capital, which will be funded with £400m (€458.5m) from dormant bank accounts and £200m from major banks, will be headed by CEO Nick O’Donohoe, formerly Global Head of Research at JP Morgan. Veteran venture capitalist Sir Ronald Cohen will be interim Chair of Big Society Capital Limited, the operating company of the group, until it is fully operational and a permanent chair is appointed.

China Investment Corp., the Chinese state investor, has said in its new annual report that it is a “responsible investor” which takes its corporate social responsibility seriously. “CIC is committed to being a responsible global investor, a valuable partner and a good citizen of recipient countries,” it said.

The Board of Directors of the IFC, the World Bank’s private sector finance arm, has approved its updated Sustainability Framework. The framework, originally adopted in 2006, aims to strengthen the IFC’s commitment to transparency, climate change, business and human rights, and supply-chain management; it will become effective on January 1 2012. A feature is a new Access to Information Policy. Announcement
The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) has teamed up with the Latin American Federation of Banks (FELABAN) to undertake a pan-regional study on banking sustainability. The study will be finalised in June 2012, UNEP FI said.