Top Stories

February 18, 2013

Corporate Reputation

G20 vows to combat corporate tax avoidance

G20 finance ministers meeting in Moscow have pledged to crack down on tax avoidance by multinational companies. The final communique said members were determined to develop measures to stop firms shifting profits from a home country to pay less tax elsewhere. The UK, France and Germany were the main movers behind the drive. A recent survey carried out by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that multinational firms were exploiting gaps between tax rules in the different countries in which they operate. (BBC, Aljazeera)

Transocean pleads guilty and pays $400m for Gulf Spill

Rig operator Transocean has pleaded guilty to a violation of the Clean Water Act and agreed to pay $400m in criminal penalties for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. The fines are the second-largest environmental crime recovery in US history, after the $4bn criminal sentence imposed on BP in connection with the same disaster. BP also has been temporarily suspended by the EPA from securing new contracts with the federal government. Most of the $400m in fines paid by Transocean will go towards protecting and restoring the Gulf Coast region. (Environmental Leader)

Social Business

Game launched on Facebook to highlight women’s issues

Facebook is to premier a new game, inspired by the book which seeks to  raise awareness of issues like female genital mutilation and child prostitution.  ‘Half the Sky Movement: The Game’, is one of the most ambitious social media games with the goal of social change to date. It is a concept, however, that even its supporters say is largely untested.  Social cause gaming, or the use of games to promote awareness of societal problems, has been growing since pioneer online projects like ‘Food Force’, the UN World Food Programme(WFP)’s 2005 game about confronting famine, and ‘Darfur Is Dying’, from MTV.  Subsequent games have raised awareness of subjects like H.I.V., sex trafficking and political conflicts, among others. (New York Times)

Supply Chain

Germany probes Amazon warehouse conditions after film

Germany is demanding explanations from the online retailer, Amazon, after a TV documentary showed seasonal workers being harassed by security guards. A TV documentary by state broadcaster ARD said employees' rooms were searched, they were frisked at breakfast and constantly watched. Workers from outside Germany, mainly from Spain and Poland, were shown to receive the worst harassment from security guards from a private firm, Hensel European Security Services (Hess). The German Employment Minister, Ursula von der Leyen, said some employment agencies could lose their operating licences if found guilty of such exploitation. (BBC)

Policy & Research

Halve meat consumption, scientists urge developed world

A new UN study says the horsemeat scandal has exposed the dark side of cheap meat and details the extent to which farming practices destroy natural world. People in the rich world should become "demitarians" – eating half as much meat as usual – in order to avoid severe environmental damage, scientists have urged. "There is a food chain risk," said Prof Mark Sutton, who coined the term demitarian and is lead author of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) study. The quest for ever cheaper meat in the past few decades has resulted in a massive expansion of intensively farmed livestock. This has, according to the UNEP report, "caused a web of water and air pollution that is damaging human health". (Business Green)

Human Rights

Gas giant backtracks on exploration in UNESCO site

The Argentine gas company, Pluspetrol, has publicly backtracked on plans to expand the Camisea gas project in southeast Peru into one of the most biodiverse places on earth, following exposure by The Guardian and Survival International. The company has released a statement in which it admitted plans for ‘superficial geological studies… for scientific interest,’ in Manu National Park, but promised that it had now abandoned these plans. The Peruvian national parks authority, Sernanp, has also released a statement, confirming it has denied Pluspetrol’s request to work in the area. The Camisea project is one of the biggest natural gas projects in the Amazon and is located in an area known as ‘block 88’, the majority of which lies inside the Nahua-Nanti reserve for uncontacted Indians. (Survival International)

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