RI ESG Briefing, June 26: US union pension fund group targets Tesco AGM

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news


Some $513bn was pledged towards sustainable development at the Rio+20 conference by governments, the private sector, civil society and other groups to achieve a sustainable future, according to the United Nations.

The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), the South Korean initiative, was formally inaugurated at Rio+20. Sixteen industrialized, emerging economies and developing countries joined a ceremony to sign an agreement to convert the body into an international organization. The signatories will become the founding members of GGGI when it launches as a new international organization in October. Former Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen will take over as Board Chair from July. Announcement

One element of the “output” document from Rio+20 was the acknowledgment of the importance of corporate sustainability reporting. The communiqué encouraged “where appropriate” publicly listed and large companies, to consider integrating sustainability information into their reporting cycle.

The UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment said it welcomed the decision to promote stronger corporate sustainability reporting at Rio+20. “While the agreement falls short of fulfilling what was asked for by the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Coalition… significant progress has been made this week raising awareness of the need for stronger and more systematic corporate disclosure of ESG issues among policy makers, stock exchanges and other stakeholders.”


A Danish asset manager on behalf of three Danish pension funds has issued a search for two global, low volatility equity mandates, each of $125m. The search, on the IPE-Quest mandate system (QN1244), states: “We prefer a UN PRI complaint asset manager or alternatively a manager, who has similar ethical guidelines.” The closing date is July 27. Link

Index and environmental, social and governance (ESG) firm MSCI has reportedly removed US industrial group Caterpillar from several of its MSCI ESG indices due to an ESG rating downgrade. Israel’s Haaretz daily ran a story from the JTA news wire said the move was related to the firm’s supply of tractors to the West Bank.h6. Governance

CtW Investment Group, the active ownership group which works with pension funds sponsored by unions affiliated with US labour group Change to Win, has UK retailer Tesco in its sights. The group is calling for a review and reassessment of Tesco’s loss-making US arm Fresh & Easy ahead of the company’s annual meeting on June 29. In an unusual move, CtW has sent information to shareholders who control 75% of Tesco’s shares seeking backing for three amendments to the company’s annual report. Link

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), which produces a sustainability reporting framework, has published an “exposure draft” of its new sustainability reporting guidelines, known as G4. “As part of the development process, the second Public Comment Period is now open for organizations and individuals to share their views and help shape the structure and content of G4,” the GRI says. The development is focused on five main areas – Boundary, Application Levels, Governance and Remuneration, Supply Chain, and Disclosures on Management Approach. The content is available online from June 25-September 25. Link
Rockefeller Asset Management, the fund management arm of Rockefeller Financial, has become a signatory to the United Nations-based Principles for Responsible Investment. Rockefeller and its subsidiaries have around $34bn in client assets under administration; last month the group, which dates back to 1882, formed a partnership with the Rothschild family’s RIT Capital Partners.

A new body called the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board has been set up in the US, founded by former Arup and Deloitte consultant Jean Rogers as Executive Director. The board chairman is Harvard Professor Bob Eccles. Board members include BlackRock portfolio manager Dan Hanson, UBS Global Sector Research Head Erika Karp, K2’s John Katovich, Domini Social Investments’ Steve Lydenberg, Morrison & Foerster Partner Susan MacCormac, former Gibson Dunn Partner Aulana Peters and CalSTRS’ Head of Corporate Governance Anne Sheehan. Link