Insurers commit to sustainable principles
About 30 global insurance companies, worth more than $5 trillion in total assets, have backed the UNEP Finance Initiative’s new Principles for Sustainable Insurance, launched at the UN Global Compact’s Rio+20 Forum. Companies including ING, Munich Re and Aviva have signed up to the Principles, which commit them to considering environmental, social and governance issues in decision-making; working with clients to raise awareness of ESG issues; and working with governments and regulators to promote action on these topics. Signatory companies will also publicly disclose their progress in implementing the Principles on an annual basis.
Rio+20 final draft document draws heavy criticism
The draft agreement to be signed by the world leaders at Rio+20 has been greeted with disappointment by delegates and NGOs, who state that the text is vague and watered-down. The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, acknowledged that negotiations had failed to live up to expectations, and urged leaders to work harder. Jim Leape, the head of WWF, described the text as “pathetic”, while Friends of the Earth's director of policy and campaigns Craig Bennett criticised “woolly definitions, old ideas and missing deadlines”. The document will be discussed at high-level talks this week, although it is thought unlikely that negotiations on the wording will be reopened.
Nestlé awarded for efforts to help Chinese farmers grow coffee
Nestlé’s efforts to help farmers successfully grow coffee in a remote region of China have been recognised with a World Business and Development Award from the International Chamber of Commerce, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF), alongside ten other companies including Unilever and the Indian conglomerate ITC. Nestlé has been helping farmers in Yunnan province develop the mountainous region into a thriving coffee growing district for the past 20 years. Over that time, the company’s agronomists have trained more than 5,000 farmers in improved farm management, planting, quality control and processing techniques. Farmers are able to obtain better prices and a steady income, while Nestlé benefits from a regular supply of quality coffee.
Agrofinanzas wins inclusive business plaudit
Agrofinanzas, a non-deposit taking financial institution that provides financing to small farmers and food producers in Mexico, is one of fifteen companies to be recognised for working with individuals at the base of the pyramid by the G20’s ‘Challenge on Inclusive Business Innovation’. Francisco Mere, Agrofinanzas' CEO commented: “Since our inception we have granted more than 80,000 loans to small agricultural producers, 80% of whom had no prior access to the formal financial sector… Today, these producers are able to establish a credit history that gives them the opportunity to obtain other financing products.”
UK plans binding votes on executive pay
The UK business secretary Vince Cable has promised the most comprehensive reforms of boardroom pay for a decade by giving shareholders binding votes on pay policy and forcing companies to make executive pay more transparent. He told the House of Commons yesterday that it was “neither sustainable nor justifiable” for directors’ pay to rise at 10% a year when the global economy remained fragile, listed companies’ performance lagged behind and many workers were suffering pay cuts. Cable said he had been “greatly encouraged” by the so-called shareholder spring, which has seen rebellions by shareholders over pay at companies including Aviva, WPP and Barclays.
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