RI ESG Briefing, March 11: Investors back EPA decision to review Alaska mine project

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news


An investor group led by US sustainable fund firms Trillium Asset Management and Calvert Investment Management, have welcomed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recent announcement that it will initiate a Clean Water Act review of a large scale mining operation in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska. The investors include the Christopher Reynolds Foundation, Clean Yield Asset Management, First Affirmative Financial Network, Green Century Capital Management, Investor Voice, SPC, Maryknoll Sisters, Newground Social Investment, SPC, Pax World Management LLC, Sierra Club Foundation, The Sustainability Group of Loring, Wolcott & Coolidge, Walden Asset Management, and Zevin Asset Management. The group is urging Rio Tinto, a large stakeholder in the proposed mine, to re-examine its participation in the face of the growing risks and costs.

Environmental data body CDP is planning to “raise the bar” for full points for verification in 2015, rewarding those who are doing more and incentivizing companies to verify more data. In order to do this CDP will introduce a threshold of 70% of both Scope 1 and 2 emissions verified for full points to be awarded and for inclusion in the Climate Performance Leadership Index (CPLI) in 2015. Link

The UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) has welcomed the recent “Green Finance” report by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Select Committee which advised the government on how to boost investment into the low-carbon economy. It added that “urgent legislative and regulatory action” – such as clarifying legal duties to encourage investors to take environmental, social and governance issues into account – was now needed.


Australia’s A$22bn (€14.3bn) Cbus Super, the fund for the construction and building industry, will prioritise suicide prevention and intervention initiatives for low-skilled construction workers after a study it commissioned from the University of Melbourne showed suicide rates in the sector. Link

IFC, the World bank’s private sector finance arm, has teamed up with underwriting group Incapital for a new program that, for the first time, allows US individual investors to buy triple-A rated IFC bonds and support private sector development in emerging markets. The new financial instrument, known as IFC Impact Notes, is an alternative to securities issued by Government Sponsored Enterprises, or GSEs.h6. Governance

Trillium AM has withdrawn its shareholder proposal at Wabtec Corp., the New York-listed industrial group, following the company’s agreement to commit to board diversity inclusive of gender, race and ethnicity. Following a successful dialogue with the company, Wabtec’s board agreed to amend its Corporate Governance Guidelines, Nominating & Corporate Governance Committee Charter and 2014 proxy statement. Link

South Africa’s Public Investment Corporation (PIC) has reportedly called for the resignation of pan-African lender Ecobank’s CEO Thierry Tanoh. PIC, which is Ecobank’s largest shareholder with an 18.95%, stake made the demand in a letter to interim chairman Andre Siaka. It was signed by PIC’s investment chief Daniel Matjila, who is a board member at Ecobank, the reports added.

Shareholder activists John Chevedden and James McRitchie have won a case against IT giant EMC Corp. relating to their shareholder proposal calling for an independent chairman at the company. EMC had sued the pair but the case has been dismissed by Judge Mark Wolf in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts. “Next up for us is Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc v. Chevedden, et al,” says McRitchie on his CorpGov.net blog. “Will the Colorado District Court render a similar decision?

Canada’s Responsible Investment Group (RIG) is launching its new Alert Service on March 17. Produced in cooperation with the Regroupement pour la Responsabilité Sociale des Entreprises (RRSE), it is intended to inform readers of upcoming controversial general meetings.

The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF), the UK industry body, published its Stewardship Disclosure Framework in October 2013. Since then, 51 asset managers (including 30 of the 50 largest firms by assets under management which have signed up to the Stewardship Code) have responded to the NAPF’s call for greater transparency and completed a Framework for their firm. These firms represent almost £10.5trn of assets under management AUM. A further six firms have committed to completing the Framework by the end of March 2014, representing a further £3trn of AUM. Link

RepRisk, the Zurich-based ESG research house, has added Italian language sources and analysis, its 14th language. Other languages include English, Chinese, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish.