RI Briefing, October 26: Trucost launches sustainability app

RI’s regular round-up of responsible investing news

A sustainability app has been launched by environmental data researcher Trucost and US-based Rosslyn Analytics. It enables users to calculate and manage the carbon and water footprint of every supplier in their supply chain worldwide. It makes managing sustainability “as checking the status of your company’s bank account,” said Trucost CEO Richard Mattison. Trucost also announced a partnership with environmental consulting firm ENVIRON.
The $146.9bn (€105.4bn) New York State Common Retirement Fund is to put “millions of dollars” into affordable housing rehabilitation projects in partnership with the Community Preservation Corporation (CPC). The projects are in Saratoga Springs and Poughkeepsie in the state. “With this investment, we’re doing good for the community and doing well for the fund,” said State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

Consulting firm Mercer has developed a suite of services to help its pension fund clients respond to the various new ‘stewardship codes’ that have been launched recently. These include the UK Stewardship Code, the European Fund and Asset Management (EFAMA) Code and Dutch foundation Eumedion Best Practices for Engaged Share Ownership. Link

The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) has released a report looking the exposure of large Australian-listed companies to bribery and corruption risk. ‘Anti-corruption and Bribery Practices in Corporate Australia: A review of the S&P/ASX200’ was produced by CAER (Corporate Analysis Enhance Responsibility).
Index firm FTSE is organising a series of seminars on integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) into investment practice. They take place in Sydney and Melbourne (November 2 and 3) and Tokyo on November 10. Link

Sarona Asset Management, the Canadian impact investing private equity firm, has set up a European office in Amsterdam. Vivina Berla, a former Merrill Lynch and Gartmore executive, was named as European Managing Director. Announcement*The VBDO (the Dutch Association* of Investors for Sustainable Development) has released its fifth Benchmark Responsible Investment by Pension Funds in the Netherlands report. The 73-page paper found that “the sector as a whole is moving forward” – although industry-wide funds still receive higher scores than corporate pension funds. Link

The Tokyo Stock Exchange has called on all listed companies to focus on “enhancing corporate governance” in the wake of the Olympus scandal. “We request that all listed companies firmly renew their awareness of the responsibility of a listed company’s management to shareholder interests and improving corporate value,” the exchange said in a statement.
A group of nine banks in the UK have launched a voluntary ethical standards body called the Chartered Banker Professional Standards Board. It aims to “develop a series of professional standards to support the ethical awareness, customer focus and competence” of banks. Initial signatories include Barclays, Clydesdale Bank, HSBC, ING Direct, Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander, Tesco Bank and Virgin Money.

The Conference Board, the US business group, has produced guidance for listed company directors approaching the task of sustainability oversight. Sustainability Matters: Why and How Corporate Boards Should Become Involved was developed in collaboration with a team of experts, the Conference Board said.
The United Nations has updated its global reported arms trade website so that data will be presented in a searchable, user-friendly manner – “providing easy access to a wealth of previously difficult-to-find information”. The UN said: “This is expected to be a major transparency tool for anyone researching weapons transfers and governmental openness.” Announcement

Desjardins, the leading Canadian cooperative financial group with assets of over C$188bn (€133bn) has released its 2010 Social and Cooperative Responsibility Report. It’s based on Global Report Initiative performance indicators and is closely aligned with Desjardins’ stance on sustainable prosperity and is available here .