Top Stories

February 22, 2013

Inclusive Business

Häagen-Dazs pilots sustainable vanilla sourcing programme

The ice cream brand, Häagen-Dazs, owned by General Mills, is to pilot a two-year training programme for vanilla farmers in Madagascar. The programme will provide training and education to several hundred farmers on how to ‘cure’ vanilla. The process – by which vanilla pods are dried and stored ready for use – is normally performed by vanilla suppliers and traders. By providing the farmers with the training and facilities to take on the curing process themselves, it is hoped that their economic livelihoods will improve. The farmers will also be trained on how to generate higher yields from the vanilla orchid plants. (Business Green, Food Product Design)


New Dow Jones sustainability index targets emerging markets

Dow Jones has launched what it claims is the first index to measure the sustainability performance of companies from emerging markets. ‘The Dow Jones Sustainability Emerging Markets Index’, developed with investment specialist RobeccoSAM, tracks 69 "sustainability champions" from 20 countries. Led by firms such as China Mobile Ltd, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, and Brazil’s Itau Unibanco, the index has a total market capitalisation of more than $680bn (£446bn). The index is constructed along similar lines to Dow Jones' other sustainability indices and is based on RobeccoSAM's annual Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA), which evaluates companies' sustainability performance based on economic, environmental and social criteria. (Business Green, MSN)

Corporate Reputation

Competition Commission raps Big Four accountants

Britain's four biggest accountancy firms have been heavily criticised by the Competition Commission. The regulator has accused PWC, Ernst & Young, Deloitte and KPMG of being too dominant and enjoying too close a relationship with company management. The four accountancy firms act as auditors for 90 percent of the UK's stock-market listed big companies. They have also been criticised in the past for not doing enough to warn of the financial crisis. Critics say accountants failed to scrutinise the banks' balance sheets properly, missing the warning signals that led to government bailouts.(BBC, Guardian, Telegraph)

Policy & Research

Financial markets biased against clean energy

A new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) has said that financial regulation is biased in favour of conventional energy, potentially holding back the flow of investment into renewable energy technologies. The study identified seven major financial regulations which appeared to be dissuading investors from backing clean energy investments that tend to require high upfront investments. Global clean energy investments have grown from less than $50bn to more than $250bn (£33bn to £165bn) a year in the last decade. However, 2012 was the first year that saw investment dip, by 11 percent. (Business Green)


More protection for whistleblowers announced

The UK Government has announced that the protections available to whistleblowers are to be strengthened further. The proposed amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill will mean that individuals, who decide to speak out about their employer, will have protection from instances of bullying or harassment from their co-workers. The current law only offers workers with protection from harassment or bullying by their employer. This new protection, known as “vicarious liability”, mirrors provisions which already exist in equality legislation. (

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