RI round-up June 13

RI’s bite-sized round-up of the week’s most important responsible investment news.

The first Access to Medicine index is published this week, ranking individual pharmaceutical companies on their efforts to provide medicine to people at risk of HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria and other diseases. The index is compiled by Innovest, the SRI research house in conjunction with the Netherlands-based Access to Medicine Foundation. Investors running assets of about €900bn ($1.3trillion), including the Universities Superannuation Scheme, Switzerland’s Ethos Foundation, the Interfaith Centre on Corporate Responsibility and fund managers Morley, F&C and Schroders, have thrown their weight behind the project. They say the issue is both a humanitarian crisis and an investment problem. A joint statement last year declared: “There is a growing public health crisis which is apparent in developing countries. How the pharmaceutical industry responds to the access to medicine issue could impact materially on long-term shareholder value.” Click link for index details.
Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, the US investor environmental coalition, has told a meeting of the UN General Assembly that setting aggressive carbon limits and putting a cost on carbon dioxide emissions internationally would catalyse the capital markets to find the most cost-effective technologies to reduce global warming pollution.
Lubber said: “A strong, equitable international framework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is essential.Such a framework would correct a significant market failure – namely that there is no cost on climate pollution. Investors want to correct this failure and put a price on global warming pollution.
At the same meeting on private investments and climate change, James Cameron, chairman of the Carbon Disclosure Project, urged UN member states to encourage greater entrepreneurial risk-taking as a means to fight climate change.
The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEPFI) has published a CEO Briefing on human rights, sketching out some of the key human rights challenges presently faced by the finance sector. The briefing, authored by Rory Sullivan of Insight Investment and Philippa Birtwell of Barclays, discusses key questions faced by companies such as the applicability of international human rights law to companies in the finance sector, the specific human rights expectations of companies in the finance sector, the business case for action and the limits to responsibility. It also presents a practical management framework for companies in the finance sector seeking to more effectively manage the human rights issues to which they are exposed.
The €33bn PMT and €21.5bn PME pension schemes for the Dutch metalwork industry, have issued a joint socially responsible investment policy along with their wholly-owned asset manager Mn Services, aligning all

investments with eight principles from international agreements and standards.
The principles cover company strategy, company governance, human rights, labour rights, the environment, anti-corruption, investment chains, and transparency.
Traditional banks and pension funds are reportedly beginning to follow the example of some pioneer investors in the field of ethical investment, albeit reluctantly, according to a report, titled ‘Ending Harmful Investments’ by Netwerk Vlaanderen, the Benelux sustainable consumer finance NGO in cooperation with BankTrack. The report examines limits to investments in four damaging practices: the support of dictators, the infringement of labour laws, the destruction of the environment and the production of weapons. The report says the leaders in the field are the Dutch Algemene Spaarbank voor Nederland (ASN), the Italian Banca Etica, The Co-operative Bank from the UK and Triodos Bank.
A new website, ProxyDemocracy.org, has been launched to help investors better understand proxy voting by comparing funds’ voting records on ESG issues. The site uses the agendas and votes found on the websites of CalPERS, Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS), Domini Social Investments, and Calvert Socially Responsible Mutual Funds for all meetings after July 1, 2007. The agendas and votes for all meetings before July 1, 2007 were collected from SEC filings submitted by mutual funds. Since 2004, the SEC has required investment companies to report all of their proxy votes in an annual filing.
The Responsible Investment Association of Australasia has received funding fromfederal and state governments to establish a Responsible Investment Academy, reports Responsible Investment News. The academy is being established as a partnership with the investment industry.
The European Social Investment Forum (Eurosif) has published today a report covering environmental, social and governance (ESG) challenges for companies in the Information & Communications Technology sector, concentrating on hardware. The sector is estimated to contribute to about 2% of global CO2 emissions. Eurosif worked with West LB, the German fund manager, for the research portion of the report. It highlights six challenges for the ICT hardware sector: energy efficiency, e-Waste and hazardous substances, supply chain issues, electromagnetic fields & human health, nanotechnology and access to ICT/the digital divide. www.eurosif.org.
New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. has said he wants to make New York City pension funds “part of the development of clean-air technologies,” reports Pensions & Investments. The funds made their first such investments in March through a fund of funds with Pacific Corporate Group in renewable energy. Thompson oversees more than $100 billion in assets of New York City’s five public pension funds.
Eighteen environmental organisations have sent a letter to the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Mizuho Corporate Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. and France’s BNP Paribas protesting against reported plans by the banks to provide approximately $5.3bn dollars in financing for the controversial Sakhalin II oil and gas project in Russia. According to the NGOs, Sakhalin II’s environmental

damage violates the banks’ funding requirements as signatories to the Equator Principles on ethical lending and should be deemed ineligible for loans.
Jacques Chirac, the former French President, has launched a charitable foundation aiming to promote conservation and cultural diversity. Chirac said the fund would focus on environmental and cultural issues like deforestation and preserving dying languages.
The US government is planning to kick-start a $10bn global fund for cleaner emissions technology and has asked Congress to commit US$2bn to the fund over three years. The fund, if launched, would likely be administered by the World Bank and proposes to use a mix of concessional loans, grants, equity investments and credit guarantees to make cleaner technology more affordable in developing countries.The US Liberman-Warner climate change bill was defeated in the Senate by 48 votes to 36.
A joint letter issued today by 52 of the world’s largest investors prior to the debate had urged the Senate to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by 60 to 90% below 1990 levels before 2050.
A summit on the global food crisis has ended without a proposed agreement on biofuels. A declaration warned that food prices would “remain high in the years to come” and called for “urgent and coordinated action” to alleviate the impact on the poor, but no co-ordinated policies were put forward on climate change and bioenergy.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the UK television cook, is planning to table a resolution at the forthcoming AGM of Tesco, the UK supermarket chain, criticising the welfare of poultry it sells