RI Briefing, Oct. 19: Nordic Investment Bank prepares green bonds

RI’s regular round-up of responsible investing news

The Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) is to issue NIB Environmental Bonds that investors can buy to support environmentally sustainable projects. NIB said eligible projects backed by the bonds would include energy efficiency, renewable energy, public transport solutions, recycling, wastewater treatment and pollutant runoff from agriculture. NIB said its first bond, targeted at Japanese retail and institutional investors would be arranged by Daiwa Securities Capital Markets.

GMO, the US investment manager with $106bn (€77.3bn) in client assets under management, has signed up to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment. The firm, formed by Jeremy Grantham, Richard Mayo and Eyk Van Otterloo in 1977, has become a signatory via its GMO Renewable Resources forestry group. Other new signatories include the Dutch central bank’s pension fund, the Stichting Pensioenfonds van De Nederlandsche Bank NV.
The 30 companies on Germany’s blue-chip DAX index have set voluntary targets to raise the number of women in leadership positions, according to reports. “We will let ourselves be publicly assessed year by year on what we have actually achieved,” said BMW’s personnel manager Harald Krueger, on behalf of the companies.

Sarasin & Partners, the UK-based fund firm with £13bn (€14.8bn) in assets under management, held its sixth responsible investment seminar in London earlier this month on the theme: ‘Can Capitalism Be More Responsible?’ Speakers included governance pioneer Robert Monks and Financial Reporting Council Chair Baroness Hogg. Their recorded presentations are available here
The UK government has launched a consultation into reforming the Financial Reporting Council. It will look at reinforcing the watchdog’s independence from those it regulates, improve its efficiency and effectiveness and “rationalise and minimise” the regulatory burdens on market participants. Announcement

MaRS, the Canadian corporate incubator, has received $1.3m in funding support from the Rockefeller Foundation and the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation to house a new Centre for Impact Investing
Link*The UN Global Compact* has been launched in Iraq. The UN Development Programme and the Iraqi Council of Ministers Secretariat hailed the “historic event” which has seen 31 domestic companies sign up to the framework. “Today’s event promoting corporate social responsibility in the Iraqi private sector is yet another step that puts Iraq … on the global business agenda,” said Christine McNab, the UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative.

The launch of the Principles on Business and Children’s Rights Initiative has been delayed until the first quarter of 2012. The guidelines – an initiative of UNICEF, Save the Children and the UN Global Compact – had been set for launch on November 14 but have been put back following a consultation. Link

So where do YOU stand on the Financial Trading Tax? – that’s the question being asked by the Network for Sustainable Financial Markets. It follows the European Commission’s proposals to introduce a ‘Tobin tax’ to curb market speculation and raise up to €55bn a year. “In the final analysis are you for or are you against?” queries NSFM, in a simple to answer, quick questionnaire.

French ESG: Members of France’s Citizen Forum for CSR have criticised what they say is the French parliament’s ‘burial’ of article 225 of the Grenelle 2 rules, which would require companies to report on the social and environmental impact of their operations. The group said it now hoped the watering down of reporting requirements could be overturned in the Senate.

US DC and SRI: The number of defined contribution (DC) retirement plans in the United States offering a sustainable and responsible investing (SRI) choice could double in the next two to three years, according to a new report released last month by Mercer and the US SIF Foundation: Link

Toyota, Ford and Volkswagen are the leading car manufacturers in terms of their ESG policies, according to a report by U.S. SRI firm Calvert Investments. Calvert said it reviewed the ESG practices of leading car manaufacturers for their leadership in environmental policies and practices, human rights and supply chain impacts, workplace policies and programs, and product safety policies and practices.
Link to report