RI round-up May 28

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

The European Social Investment Forum (Eurosif) has launched an approval logo with which SRI fund managers can label their funds once they have been reassessed against European SRI Transparency Guidelines. The guidelines were created in November 2004 to increase accountability for consumers by requiring fund managers to explain the SRI policies and practices related to the fund. National Social Investment Forums in European countries will oversee the guideline assessments. Eurosif has also published its latest sector report covering environmental, social and governance (ESG) challenges for companies in the nuclear energy sector. The reports aim to help policy makers, mainstream and specialist SRI investors, pension fund trustees, and companies understand risks that are not consistently integrated into traditional financial analysis, but which have the potential to influence companies’ shareholder value and fund managers’ investment decisions. In it Eurosif highlights six key challenges for the nuclear sector: climate change, safety, spent fuel waste management, plant decommissioning, social acceptance and educating new talent.
Seperately, Eurosif is to conduct the first-ever study on European high net worth individual (HNWI) investments incorporating sustainability issues. This study is being sponsored by Bank Sarasin in Switzerland. Surveys have been sent out to a number of wealth managers as well as family offices. If you would like to be part of the study, please contact Marion de Marcillac marion@eurosif.org*UBS, the Swiss banking group*, is reportedly planning to launch its range of socially responsible investment funds into North America.
Speaking at a recent conference in Canada, Vijaya Govindan, UBS Global Portfolio Management strategist, said the fund manager was currently in ‘educational’ mode about its products with US and Canadian investors. UBS is understood to manage about $4bn in SRI related assets.
SpainSIF, the social investment forum for the Spanish market, has been fully incorporated. Member groups include Spanish banks: BBVA, BBK and Caser Seguos as well as foreign groups with local market presence including Crédit Agricole and FTSE.
Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), has reportedly said it plans to launch the first exchange-traded fund (ETF) based on the recently launched Madrid-based FTSE4Good IBEX index. The bank told Environmental Finance magazine that the fund will be aimed at investors interested in socially responsible funds, but targeted particularly at institutional investors such as pension funds. Eugenio Yurrita, head of asset management at BBVA told the magazine: “BBVA has been in the forefront of corporate social responsibility for years and enjoys building solutions for our clients regarding socially responsible investing.”
Ethos, the Geneva-based foundation which looks after CHF2.3bn (€1.4bn) in assets run on a socially responsible basis on behalf of Swiss pension funds is

looking for a Geneva-based management assistant to develop its activities.
Shareholders at HSBC will vote this week (Friday) on controversial director pay packages whereby five directors could share £120m over the next three years. The Association of British Insurers has issued an “amber” rating to HSBC investors, indicating concerns over the pay report. Pirc, the corporate governance adviser, says shareholders should vote against the pay proposals, which it said were “excessive”.
US quoted mining firms will reportedly be forced to disclose every payment over $100,000 in a measure to be brought before US legislators next month, according to the UK Observer newspaper. The Extractive Industries Transparency Disclosure Bill, being presented by Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, is part of drive to ensure transparency and thwart corruption in the extractive industries.
Unite, Britain’s biggest union, says it will table a resolution at the forthcoming July AGM of M&S, the UK clothing retailer, warning that it faces significant reputational risks over alleged discrimination to migrant employees in its UK and Irish supply chain. Unite joint general secretary, Tony Woodley, said: “M&S have made enormous profits, while we have had complaints from some workers in its supply chain who feel they are being forced to accept unequal treatment and discrimination.”
Mike O’Brien, UK Minister of State for Pensions Reform, has said the trustees of the personal accountsdelivery authority (PADA), the proposed obligatory pension savings plans to be introduced in 2012, are considering offering an ethical investment option for the regime. Speaking at the launch of UK National Ethical Investment Week, O’Brien said: “This marks the beginning of a serious national conversation as to how we invest.
We don’t want Personal Accounts to be overcomplicated but do want there to a choice of funds for those who desire it. Green and ethical investment has been attracting some debate on floor of the House of Commons and beyond.”
The UN’s carbon offsetting programme is wasting billions of euros by paying industries in developing countries to reduce climate change emissions on projects that were already planned, reports The Guardian, the UK newspaper. It said a working paper from two senior Stanford University academics examined more than 3,000 projects applying for or already granted up to $10bn of credits from the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism funds over the next four years. The paper concluded that the majority should not be considered for assistance because they would be built anyway. The CDM is supposed to support additional emissions cuts above what those already planned. David Victor, law professor at the Californian university, said: “It looks like between one and two thirds of all the total CDM offsets do not represent actual emission cuts.”