RI Briefing, May 25: iShares launches sustainable ETFs on Dutch market

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

BlackRock’s iShares has launched two sustainable equity exchange traded funds (ETFs) on the Amsterdam market of NYSE Euronext: the iShares Dow Jones Global Sustainability Screened and the iShares Dow Jones Europe Sustainability Screened. ‘’I am excited to introduce the first Dutch ETFs based on sustainable criteria,” said Roel Thijssen, head of iShares Benelux. iShares launched two ESG-themed ETFs on the London Stock Exchange in February.

Settlements to investors relating to Shell’s 2004 mis-statement of its oil reserves are now not expected to be distributed before November this year, according to a statement from the Shell Reserves Compensation Foundation. The foundation, the body which represents all shareholders covered by the non-US settlement agreement, comprises around 150 institutional investors including ABP, PGGM, DEKA, Norges, UBS and Morley.

The C$35.7bn (€25.9bn) Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) has become the latest major institution to be disclosed as a signatory to the United National Principles of Responsible Investing. HOOPP is already signed up to the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance, the Carbon Disclosure Project and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). HOOPP already “closely considers ESG factors across all of its investments and has a responsible investing policy to guide its decision making”.
The first global United Nations inter-agency initiative to promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples has been unveiled. The new United Nations-Indigenous Peoples’ Partnership (UNIPP) brings together the International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Announcement

UBS, the Swiss bank, and Dutch development bank FMO have both joined the Global Impact Investing Network’s Investors’ Council. UBS’s Values-Based Investing team supports ultra high net worth clients, families and foundations in aligning their environmental and social values with their investment portfolios. FMO has a portfolio of €5.3bn and investments in 60 countries. Link*Verité – the US non-profit* organisation that works with companies to improve working conditions – has become the 12th member organisation of the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST). “Verité grapples every day with the shocking realities of slavery and trafficking in numerous sectors worldwide, and the challenges of bringing solutions to bear on these complex problems,” said CEO Dan Viederman.
Australia: a forum looking at how accountants can help improve governance through the integration of financial and non-financial information into their reporting was held this month. The event, which included speakers from National Australia Bank, VicSuper, Macquarie Securities, KPMG, the University of Melbourne, the Water Accounting Standards Board (Australia), and the International Integrated Reporting Committee, included a focus on environment, social, and governance (ESG) factors.

The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and the African insurance industry took the first steps towards developing sustainability principles for the insurance industry at a regional meeting in mid-March. Over 70 senior executives from the African insurance industry and its stakeholders attended the meeting in Johannesburg, co-hosted by Santam and the South African Insurance Association.

The Florida State Board of Administration’s proposal calling for a declassified board at McDonald’s annual meeting last week received 77% approval. But shareholder resolutions on controlled atmosphere stunning, children’s nutrition and beverage containers were not approved. Link

Veolia Water has launched a website called GrowingBlue.com that is designed to help stakeholders understand global and local water challenges and best practices. It provides a “visually compelling” representation of the current state of water in 180 countries. The site also includes possible water availability scenarios in 2050 and the intrinsic link between water and economic prosperity, societal stability and environmental sustainability.