RI Briefing, March 2: Nomura Asset Management signs up to UN PRI

RI’s regular round-up of sustainable finance news.

Nomura Asset Management Co. Ltd., the Japanese fund giant with a total of JPY24trn (€211.8bn) in institutional and investment trust assets under management, has signed up to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment, according to the UN PRI web site. Among a raft of other recent new signatories are AllianzGI Investments Europe, Brazil’s FBDS, Santander Empleados Pensiones, Allegro Private Equity and Covalence EthicalQuote.

Meanwhile, the PRI has published a series of case studies: Responsible Investment in Passive Management Strategies. It looks at how asset owners and investment managers are meeting the challenge of responsible investment within passive management strategies for equities. The PRI says some 17% of signatories’ total assets were held passively in 2009.

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition has been launched by a group of leading clothing companies like Adidas, Gap, Levi Strauss, Marks & Spencer, Nike, Patagonia, Timberland and Walmart alongside NGOs, academics, the Environmental Defense Fund and the US Environmental Protection Agency. It will be chaired by Patagonia’s Rick Ridgeway. Link

A new reportPromoting Revenue Transparency: 2011 report on Oil and Gas Companies – by Transparency International and the Revenue Watch Institute has found that while oil and gas companies have improved the transparency of their revenue reporting and information about anti-corruption programmes, they should take bolder action to stop corruption. “Too few companies publish what they pay governments in each country where they operate,” said TI Chair Huguette Labelle.

The Conflict Risk Network (CRN), a hundred-strong group of investors, which includes the $140.6bn New York State Common Retirement Fund, has called on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to demand that oil and other extractive companies are transparent on payments they make to foreign governments such as the Government of Sudan, accused of genocide in Darfur. Commenting on the SEC’s implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act, CRN recommended that certain companies be required to report payments made by their parents, not just their subsidiaries.

There is a “second wave” of corporate governance in the Middle East and North Africa, according to new analysis from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Alissa Koldertsova. It was prepared before the recent events in Algeria, Egypt and Libya.The nomination deadline for the annual Joan Bavaria Awards for Building Sustainability into the Capital Markets has been extended to March 8. The awards, presented by Ceres and Trillium, will be announced at the 2011 Ceres Conference in California in May. Link

The United Nations Global Compact, the initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with 10 universally accepted principles, was introduced in Iran at the First International Corporate Social Responsibility Congress held in Tehran. The event, organized by the MAHAK, the Society to Support Children Suffering from Cancer, and co-sponsored by the Iranian Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Mines, was attended by 150 participants. Link

The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), the not-for-profit impact investing organisation, has opened ImpactBase to subscribers. It’s a global directory of funds active in the impact investing industry, created to reduce search costs and bring order to the fragmented impact investing marketplace.
The Property Working Group of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) has released the fourth in its series of toolkits. The 16-page Implementing Responsible Property Investment Strategies is available here.

JP Morgan’s Social Finance Unit has invested £2.75m (€3.2m) in the Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund, bringing the fund to a final close of £11.75m. Bridges said it was the first UK-based commitment by the unit.

US banking giant Northern Trust has joined the United Nations Environment Programme’s Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), the global partnership between the UNEP and the financial sector. Northern Trust, which has $15.6bn in socially screened assets, signed up to the UN PRI in 2009. Link

Norges Bank Investment Management plans to carry out a reputational survey of the Government Pension Fund and is tendering for providers. “The reputation survey shall use both qualitative and quantitative methods and shall cover the fund’s three main markets: Europe, North America and Asia,” it says.
ADA, the Luxembourg-based microfinance NGO, has published a discussion paper, titled: “Can bad microfinance practices be the consequences of too much funding chasing too few microfinance institutions?”

UNCTAD, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, has published The Road to Rio +20, the first in a series focusing on green economic growth.