RI ESG Briefing, November 25: IFC issues its first South African rand green bond

The round-up of the latest environmental, social and governance news


The World Bank’s IFC has issued a green bond denominated in South African rand, raising the equivalent of around $71m for climate-friendly investments in emerging markets. It marks the first time a green bond has been issued in South Africa by a multilateral institution. FirstRand Bank Limited, one of South Africa’s largest banking groups, is the anchor investor in the nine-year bond. Rand Merchant Bank is the sole manager for the transaction. “This transaction demonstrates our continued commitment to support low-carbon development in South Africa,” said Andries du Toit, Group Treasurer at FirstRand. “It paves the way for additional issuers to tap South Africa’s green bond market.”

The latest ‘Climatescope’ study from the Inter-American Development Bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund and Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows 2014 clean energy activity mainly occurred in developing countries, led by China, Brazil and Chile. Developing nations attracted more clean energy power generation investment in 2014 than ever, according to the report; it found that new investment in clean energy capacity in the surveyed countries “soared” in 2014, hitting a record annual high of $126bn—up 39% from 2013 levels. Link

The top managers of 78 major companies have called on governments to include the pricing of carbon emissions as part of policies to limit, according to Reuters. The call comes in an open letter coordinated by the World Economic Forum whose signatories included the likes of HSBC, Siemens, SOHO China, PepsiCo, Engie, Mahindra Group, Tata, Nestlé, BT Group, Unilever and PwC. “We believe that effective climate policies have to include explicit or implicit prices on carbon achieved via market mechanisms or coherent legislative measures,“they wrote.


The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR), the UK faith investment group, has launched a new report, “Forced Labour, Human Trafficking & The FTSE 100” with its partners. It provides a selection of representative industry examples and case studies; advice and guidance is given to investors and businesses on how these risks can be addressed and how companies can meet their corporate responsibilities. Link

Draft Natural Capital Protocol and Sector Guides have been launched for consultation at the World Forum on Natural Capital. The draft Protocol and Sector Guides have been developed by the Natural Capital Coalition as a standardized framework for business to measure and value its impacts and dependencies on natural capital and to help them integrate this into their decision making. The consultation will run until February 26 and will be followed by several months of further development prior to the launch of Version 1 in July 2016.h6. Governance

A group of 19 corporate law professors, led by Harvard Law School Professor John Coates, have submitted an amicus brief (unsolicited information that bears on a case) to the Court on the respondents’ behalf in the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association – a case brought by state teachers challenging compulsory membership fees to politicised unions, citing the First Amendment. The brief compares non-member contributions to union political activity and shareholder contributions to corporate political activity, highlighting the analogous way in which investments are being used to fund political activities in a way in which benefactors might not politically agree with or know about.

US bellwethers Procter & Gamble, Boeing and General Electric have failed to acknowledge the risk posed by climate change to their operations in annual filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), according to a report by InfluenceMap, a London-based non-profit that analyses corporate influence on climate change policy. The report also noted a discrepancy between corporate communications acknowledging these risks and the silence of the companies’ SEC filings. Link

2020 Women on Boards, the US-based NGO launched in 2010 to support the national initiative focused on achieving at least 20% of board seats held by women by the year 2020, has announced a minor increases in the number of women on corporate boards in California at their fifth annual conference. Among the 400 largest companies in California, the percentage of women directors has risen to a new high of 13.3% – from 8.8 % in 2006. Link

Chevron’s shareholders, pension funds and investment managers from the UK, Europe and the US have been briefed, at a forum hosted in London by the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), on the potential implications for investors as a result of the oil major’s tax strategy. The US oil giant was hit last month with an Australian tax bill of about $300 million after losing a landmark case that could have global implications. Link

Mobil NZ, the New Zealand-based subsidiary of US oil giant Exxon Mobil has come under pressure in the wake of an investigation in the US of its parent company alleging it misled the public and shareholders about the threat of climate change. Calls for the company to be investigated by New Zealand’s Serious Fraud Office and the Commerce Commission have been accompanied by demands that the New Zealand Superannuation Fund and ACC investment fund immediately divest from ExxonMobil. Link

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited’s (HKEx) Women’s Exchange, or WEx, highlighted the importance of “Women on Boards: Role Models and Mentors” in nurturing female leaders at its annual reception today (November 25). Chief Executive Charles Li noted in his opening remarks how mentors can nurture female leaders and announced the rollout of HKEx’s 2016 Back to Work Programme, designed to help women resume their careers after leaving the workforce for a few years.