RI round-up September 16

RI’s regular round-up of the most important responsible investment news.

A group of thirteen Swedish investors with assets of SEK 3.8 trillion (€370bn), including the four AP funds (1-4) and the Church of Sweden, have launched a sister initiative to the Sustainable Value Creation (SVC) project launched in Norway in August 2008, to push the country’s top companies to report to a public set of standards on issues such as the environment, labour and human rights. The questionnaire has been sent to the 100 largest corporations on NASDAQ OMX Stockholm. The Norwegian version is sent to 74 companies in the Oslo Børs Benchmark Index. The results of the two surveys will be reported in January 2010. The other Swedish companies backing SVC are DnB NOR Asset Management, Folksam, Meta Asset Management, Nordea Investment Funds, SEB, Skandia Liv, SPP and Swedbank Robur.
France’s Natixis Asset Management has created a scientific climate change committee to feed into its portfolio management decisions on questions of country and sector risk and potential. The committee includes Carlos Joly founder member of UNEP-FI, Pierre Radanne, president of 4D, which produces research papers and debates on sustainable development, and Miklos Konkoly-Thege ex president of Det Norske Veritas, the environmental foundation.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), part of the World Bank Group, has stopped investing in palm oil projects pending a review of concerns over associated environmental and social practices. World Bankpresident, Robert Zoellick announced the move in a letter to a group of environmental NGOs that had raised concerns about IFC investments in Wilmar, the Singapore-based agribusiness and in Indonesia’s palm oil sector.
FTSE4Good has added 33 companies and deleted 15 in its latest bi-annual review. Changes to the indices are effective from close of trading on September 18th 2009.
Link to FTSE4Good
The Dow Jones Sustainability World Index (DJSI World) has added 33 companies also deleted 33 firms, leaving the number of components unchanged at 317, following its latest annual review by SAM.
Link to DJSI World
Russell Investments has formed the Russell Sustainability Council to incorporate environmental, social and corporate governance considerations into its manager research and product development, after signing the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investment.
Nordic companies are lagging significantly behind their European peers in their management of climate change risks and opportunities, according to report, titled ‘Taking the Temperature’, published by Ethix SRI Advisors and Insight Investment. The report assesses the 40 largest companies in the Nordic region looking at their governance, climate change policies, reporting and efforts to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Link to report

Impax Asset Management is launching Impax Asian Environmental Markets PLC on the main market of the London Stock Exchange. The company will be managed by Bruce Jenkyn-Jones, managing director at Impax and David Li of Ajia Partners in Hong Kong, who Impax will work with on the fund.
A report by Bank Sarasin on sustainable property developers has identified two UK companies, Land Securities and British Land, as leaders. Sarasin’s research universe comprises 160 listed property companies in 17 countries, of which it rated 64 as sustainable. Among other European companies, two French real estate companies, Gecina and Unibail-Rodamco, received above-average sustainability ratings.
Link to report
Australia’s RI Academy has signed an agreement with the UNPRI to establish education and training programs on key areas of responsible investment. James Gifford, PRI executive director, will become a member of the RI Academy Advisory Council.
Link to RI Academy
Total and Chevron have been accused by Earth Rights International of propping up Burma’s military government through their gas projects in the country. Earth Rights has published two reports about theYadana gas pipeline project in Burma, which transports gas to Thailand, and which it says has allowed the government to siphon off $5bn (£3bn) in revenue. Both Total and Chevron issued statements denying involvement in the Yadana project and said the findings were untrue.
Link to Earth Rights International
The Global Compact signed up 61 companies and 42 non-business stakeholders during August, while 26 companies were delisted for failing to communicate on progress.
Link to Global Compact
ECOFACT, the Swiss-based environmental and social risk data provider and consultant is expanding its sales team into the UK and US asset management markets and hiring a sales manager for each.
A research paper by Swiss bank, UBS, titled “Emerging Market Equities: Sustainable Investment Opportunities”, has found that as of mid-2008, assets allocated to socially responsible investment (SRI) or sustainable investment exceeded $50 billion in emerging markets. It said another $250bn in assets was managed by mainstream investment managers who considered environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors.