RI round-up: UK MPs pension fund under pressure to sign up to Stewardship Code

The round-up of the most important RI stories.

UK MP, Caroline Lucas has joined the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) in calling on the MPs Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund to sign up to the voluntary UK Stewardship Code, which aims to enhance the quality of engagement and corporate governance between institutional investors and companies.
They have written to Brian Donohoe MP, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PCPF, requesting a meeting to make the case for the Fund’s signature. Lucas said: “Most people would be appalled if they thought their pensions were being invested in corporations with, for example, poor records on human rights or environmental protection. By signing the MP pension fund up to the UK Stewardship Code, Parliament can demonstrate its commitment to sustainability and transparency, and really lead by example in responsible investment. Since the Code operates on a ‘comply or explain’ basis, we look forward to the PCPF’s response to this letter – either to confirm that it will sign up or explain why it isn’t willing to.”

The value of insured losses due to serious weather issues has been rising steadily over the past 30 years making it a clear risk for insurance companies, according to a report by Ceres, the US environmental investment coalition. The report said 2011 had been a particularly expensive year with an estimated $44bn of insured catastrophe and extreme weather losses, second only to 2005 when Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma hit the Gulf Coast with insured losses totalling approximately $60bn.
Link to report:

Standard Life Investments, the Edinburgh-based fund manager will launch a European SRI Bond Fund within the next month, according to an article in Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf citing Julie McDowell, Head of Sustainable and Responsible Investment.

The Nord-Pas de Calais region of France has issued its second socially responsible bond since 2008, and the fourth such bond issued in the Eurozone this year. The €80m, 12 year AA- bond with a coupon of 3.42% was sold by Credit Agricole with demand exceeding €150m and 90% of orders from institutional investors. The bond proceeds will be allocated to three sectors: transport & infrastructure (70%: river systems and transport etc.), energy (20%: energy quality of buildings, development of eco-materials, etc.) and biodiversity (10%: regional forest development and other projects).News Corp: PIRC, the UK proxy voting company, is holding a webinar on September 24 outlining two shareholder proposals at News Corp that call on it to appoint an independent chair and to eliminate its dual-class share structure. Representatives from LAPFF, PIRC, Christian Brothers Investment Services and the Nathan Cummings Foundation will update information on the UK phone hacking scandal and outline arguments in favour of the proposals.
Register here

Sustainable palm oil: Herakles Farms, an affiliate of Herakles Capital, a private equity investor in sustainable agricultural projects in sub-Saharan Africa has reportedly withdrawn an application to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) for a palm oil plantation in the Southwest region of Cameroon. A coalition of environmental and human rights groups had submitted a complaint to the RSPO citing that the oil palm plantation would cause irreparable deforestation, wildlife damage, and deprive local indigenous communities of their livelihoods, allegations that Herakles denies.

Access to Nutrition Index: A webinar update on the Access to Nutrition Index will be held on September 27 (corrects date from 29th). Representatives from F&C Asset Management and Boston Common Asset Management as well as the ATNI Project Team will provide an overview of ATNI and its scope, an update on its development and anticipated launch date, and details on nutrition-related risks and opportunities that investors should consider when investing in and engaging with food and beverage companies.

The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) has launched an online registry where users of the Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS) are encouraged to publicly list the metrics they use to monitor the social, environmental, and financial performance of their impact investing activities. Currently, 34 registered users have done so. The GIIN is also hosting webinars on October 11 and October 25 where participants can learn more about the IRIS Registry.