UK church investors developing ethical investment policy for extractives firms (Update)

Ethical Investment Advisory Group seeks input for standalone policy

(Updates with extended deadline for consultation.)

The Church of England is developing a standalone ethical investment policy for the extractive industries.

It is being spearheaded by the Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) of the Church of England’s National Investing Bodies (the NIBs) – comprising the Church Commissioners, Pensions Board and CBF Church of England Funds – which collectively manage around £11bn (€13.9bn).

The EIAG is holding a public consultation led by the Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd David Walker, which will be open until May 17*. Walker chaired a roundtable late last month bringing together clergy and theologians, advisors, industry experts, academics and civil society groups to discuss best approaches, case studies of successful engagement and a way forward.

He tweeted: “Delegates from companies, communities, NGOs and campaign groups. Being a good investor.”

The EIAG aims to produce their policy within a year. The NIBs have a number of existing policies in place to address some of the ethical aspects of extractive industries such as climate change but “given the size, impact and range of challenges specific to the sector”, the EIAG is keen to develop and recommend a standalone policy.

The ethical panel is seeking a range of views to reflect “our overlapping interests in theology, ethics, and the industry” to advise the NIBs. Any new policy that emerges from the process will be made public.The Church argues that non-renewable mineral resources play a dominant role in the economies of 81 countries – accounting for a quarter of the world GDP, half the world’s population and 70% of those living in extreme poverty.

The extractives sector – and any ethical policy relating to it – “has the potential to impact the lives of a very wide range of individuals and communities”. Potential ethical concerns range from equity, environmental degradation and the geo-political structure of the sector, to corruption and human rights.

The following definition has been agreed for the purposes of the policy development:

Extractive industries consist of any operations that remove metals, minerals and aggregates from the earth. Examples of extractive processes include oil and gas extraction, mining, dredging and quarrying. For the purposes of this consultation, it does not include water resource extraction other than where mining activities utilise or otherwise affect water drainage and reservoir systems.

The EIAG says it is keen to hear from communities, church groups, civil society organisations, think tanks as well as governments, industry and international organisations. Each submission will be considered as part of the policy development process. Link

  • Since this story was written, the deadline has been extended to June 17.