Rio+20 Round-up: Sustainable insurance principles, natural capital, exchanges

Investor news from Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum

A round-up of some of the key investor-related developments to emerge from the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum.

“We need companies everywhere to deliver value — not just financially, but socially, environmentally and ethically.” That was the message to the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “Corporate sustainability is an idea whose time has come.” Text of speech

Almost 30 leading global insurance companies, worth over $5trn in total assets and accounting for over 10% of premium volume, are set to launch the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) Principles for Sustainable Insurance. The principles aim to “green the sector” and provide tools for risk management supporting “environmental, social, and economic sustainability”. The principles cover risks such as climate change/natural disasters, water scarcity, food insecurity and pandemics.

A group of five stock exchangesNASDAQ OMX, BM&FBOVESPA, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the Istanbul Stock Exchange and the Egyptian Exchange – announced a commitment to promote long-term, sustainable investment in their markets. The bourses, with over 4,600 listed companies, will work with investors, companies and regulators to promote improved environmental, social and corporate governance disclosure and performance.

Aviva Investors have released a report tied in with the sustainable exchanges initiative called “Trends in Sustainability Disclosure: Benchmarking the World’s Composite Stock Exchanges”. It finds that European stock exchanges are among the world’s best on sustainability reporting – but that policy intervention is now required amid stalling momentum. The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Coalition, which launched last month and which represents some $2trn in assets, is urging nations to commit to develop an international policy framework.

Brazilian exchange BM&FBOVESPA published the results of the “Report or Explain” initiative that seeks to encourage listed companies to report their sustainability information. It found that 45% of listed companies published information related to social, environmental and corporate governance dimensions, or explained why not. Out of a total of 448 listed companies that were analysed, 96 (21%) published sustainability reports.The Natural Capital Declaration has been launched with the support of 37 banks, investment funds, and insurance companies. It is the first statement of its kind to be signed only by the CEOs of financial institutions – a requirement that aims to ensure that endorsement translates into concrete actions. The project is co-convened by the UNEP FI, the Global Canopy Programme, and the São Paolo-based Center for Sustainability Studies. Link

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development (CEBDS) are urging governments to “act now” to make sustainability reporting standard practice. In particular they want them to encourage all listed and large companies to report their sustainability performance on a report or explain basis. They are also calling for Ban Ki-Moon to develop a process and a timeframe to establish a global policy framework to create the appropriate enabling conditions for more widespread sustainability reporting.

The UN Global Compact and the Rockefeller Foundation have announced a new ‘framework for action’ to offer investors, corporations and governments a resource on the growing for-profit social enterprise sector. “It is our hope that this Framework will motivate large companies and investors within the UN Global Compact and our sister initiative, the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment, to invest in social enterprises in a range of sectors,” said Global Compact Deputy Director Gavin Power.

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), the extractives industry body, launched the first of a series of seven publications at Rio+20. The first publication in the series is called Mining’s contribution to sustainable development: an overview. Two more publications in the series – “The role of minerals and metals in a low carbon economy” and “Human rights, social development and the mining and metals industry” – are set for release.

A group of 45 global company CEOs committed to advancing corporate water management practices – and called on governments attending the summit to make global water security a top priority. Announcement

Rio has seen the launch of the ‘Green Industry Platform’, an initiative to mobilize action for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization’s (UNIDO) Green Industry Agenda. This aims to promote green manufacturing and create green industries. Link