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RI ESG Briefing, Dec. 18: Warsaw exchange joins Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative

The latest ESG news

Environmental

President Obama has issued a Presidential Memorandum on federal leadership on energy management. The missive, to the heads of executive departments and agencies, says the government “must lead by example” to create a clean energy economy that will increase prosperity, promote energy security, combat climate change, protect the interests of taxpayers, and safeguard the environment.

The Global Wind Organisation (GWO) has chosen the Copenhagen headquarters of the Danish Wind Industry Association (DWIA) as the base for its new secretariat. “We have chosen the DWIA because we will have the opportunity to live with a highly reputable and professional wind energy organisation with a broad international network of contacts,” said GWO Chairman Claus Rose in a statement released by the DWIA.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is supporting phase I of the construction and operation of a wind farm in North West Poland with a loan of up to PLN301m (€72m). Phase I covers the installation of 79.5MW capacity generated by a wind farm located in the municipality of Gołańcz and supported by the EBRD. It is expected to reduce CO2 emissions in Poland by approximately 100,000 tonnes per annum.

New research from the University of Oxford’s Stranded Assets Programme has found that environment-related factors are changing China’s coal consumption with potentially significant consequences for Australian coal assets. Stranded Down Under? was supported by HSBC‘s Climate Change Centre of Excellence.

Social

Unitus Seed Fund, the Indian impact investor, has made an investment in GoCoop Solutions and Services Pvt. Ltd, a Bangalore-based venture that provides a social marketplace for co-operatives and community-based enterprises to list and sell their produce online. The investment is in partnership with the Indian Angel Network. Unitus has also backed Welcare Health Systems Private Ltd, an affordable eye screening services company.h6. Governance

The Warsaw Stock Exchange has become the latest exchange to join the UN Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) initiative. The WSE, the first SSE participant in Central and Eastern Europe, joins NYSE Euronext, NASDAQ OMX and exchanges in Turkey, Brazil, India, Egypt and South Africa. It comes as the WSE has published the new portfolio of its ‘Respect’ socially responsible index, which includes 23 listed companies.

The European Union has taken a “big step” in making auditor rotation mandatory at companies, according to the Financial Times. The FT said that under the package of reforms, which faces further legislative hurdles, listed companies and banks will have to change auditors after 10 years.

The Green Century Equity Fund has filed a shareholder resolution to urge US retail giant Safeway to voluntarily label its private line of products that contain GMOs ingredients. “Customers have the right to decide for themselves whether or not to participate in the ongoing GMO experiment,” said Lucia von Reusner, Shareholder Advocate at Green Century.

The Institute of Management Accountants, the accountancy body, has responded to the launch of the International Integrated Reporting framework. It says several issues must be addressed to “reap the benefits” of integrated reporting. It said: “The end goal should not be to produce a single, integrated report. It should be to motivate disclosures that better inform investors and other stakeholders as to the sustainable value creation capability and capacity of the organization.”

Management consultancy the Hay Group has released a report looking at the non-executive directors (NEDs) of 393 of the largest quoted companies in Europe. Non-executive directors in Europe 2013 found that while the gender mix continues to improve the pay gap has widened, with men paid 10% more. While Swiss firms pay NEDs most, Austrian firms pay theirs least. And pharmaceuticals firms pay their NEDs the most.

A new report looks at women’s participation in leadership positions at companies in the Standard & Poor’s 100 Index (S&P 100) and the Silicon Valley 150 Index (SV 150). The Fenwick & West Gender Diversity Survey covers gender diversity trends among the board members and leadership teams of publicly traded companies for the period from the 1996 proxy season through the 2013 proxy season. Link