RI Briefing, May 18: French strategic investment fund signs up to UN PRI

RI’s regular Wednesday round-up of responsible investing news

The Fonds Stratégique d’Investissement, the €21.8bn French strategic investment fund, has signed up to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment. Other recent signatories include the $1bn Global Environment Fund of the US, Dutch real estate manager Syntrus Achmea Vastgoed and German consulting firm Funds@Work.

The World Bank’s IFC private sector arm has updated its environmental and social standards, boosting its commitment to climate change, business and human rights, supply-chain management and transparency. The move is the culmination of an 18-month consultation with stakeholder groups around the world. The new framework recognises the importance of resource efficiency and that it is “the responsibility of the private sector to identify adverse risks and impacts through environmental and social due diligence”.

SRI research from Crédit Agricole Cheuvreux is among the features available on the firm’s new iPad Research App. It provides direct access to Cheuvreux’s economy & strategy and SRI research, its selected list, research on 700 European stocks and all information on Cheuvreux’s Corporate Access services. Users can download the app via the App store

CalPERS, the largest US pension fund, says it plans to divest shares worth around $160m in eight companies operating in Iran and Sudan in response to US and international sanctions. The fund once had up to $2bn in 47 companies in the two countries. Home page
RepRisk, the environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk monitoring company, has added four new languages: Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish. It’s the result of a new collaboration with Ethix SRI Advisors, which advises institutional investors on sustainable and responsible investment.

The Long-Term Investors Club, the organisation formed in 2009 by the Caisse des Dépôts, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, the European Investment Bank and KfW Bankengruppe, is holding its third international conference next month. The high-level event Financing Future Challenges takes place in Berlin on June 16.Sustainability reports are becoming more reliable, according to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). Figures from the GRI Reports List, alongside GRI’s Year in Review 2009/10, suggest that more companies are having their sustainability reports assured, resulting in more accurate and trustworthy data.

Wolfgang Engshuber, chair of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment, took part in a news conference to launch German industrial group Bayer’s new sustainability report. He said: “Whether a company aligns its strategy toward sustainable success is not solely a criterion for investors specializing in sustainable investment – rather, it has long since also become relevant to mainstream investment.”

Christian Brothers Investment Services has won an award for its work to help combat sex tourism during the 2010 World Cup, the 2011 Super Bowl and its support for CB657, The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act. It has won the Founder’s award from Los Angeles-based NGO the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking.

The UK government has proposed its Fourth Carbon Budget with a commitment to limit the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions to be cut by 50% by 2025 – and putting it on course to cut emissions by at least 80% by 2050. “By stepping up, showing leadership and competing with the world, the UK can prove that there need not be a tension between green and growth,” said Prime Minister David Cameron.
Ole Beier Sørensen, Chairman of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), the leading European investors’ forum for collaboration on climate change, and Chief of Research and Strategy with the Danish pension fund ATP, said: “The new carbon budget set out by the UK government demonstrates determination, is ambitious in scope and sends a signal to the UK public, financial markets as well as the wider international community. However,the suggestion that the UK could review, and potentially weaken, its own commitments depending on progress elsewhere needs to be clarified to ensure certainty for investors beyond 2014.