Top Stories

April 15, 2013


Norway’s government pension fund divests from palm oil producers

Norway’s government pension fund – one of the world’s largest – has withdrawn US$314m in investments from a string of companies that it says produce palm oil “unsustainably”- a move environmental advocates are likely to welcome because of links between the industry and deforestation. Palm oil is found in roughly 50 percent of packaged products on supermarket shelves and interest in using oil palm as a feedstock for biofuel is growing. The decision to divest was made by Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), independently of Council of Ethics investigations into oil palm companies. Earlier decisions also resulted in divestments from tobacco, timber and gold mining companies. (Reuters)

Corporate Reputation

Advertisers vent fury at Facebook

Angry advertisers have complained to Facebook, the social network giant, because their products appear on pages glorifying rape and domestic violence. Companies including Vodafone, Dove cosmetics and the homeless charity Shelter have contacted the site to express their concern after adverts for their products and services appeared on Facebook group pages which were considered to be highly offensive. The site is facing criticism for being slow to remove such graphic material when reported. Facebook made $1.33bn (£869m) from advertising revenue in the last quarter. (The Times)

Policy & Research

Green energy can help reduce poverty

The Indonesian government has been urged to pay serious attention to the use of renewable energy, especially in rural villages, as it can help drive the economy by creating job opportunities and generating income that, in turn, can reduce poverty, a scholar has said. Jakarta-based Darma Persada University’s renewable energy director, Kamaruddin Abdullah, said the government already possessed several regulations to push the use of renewable energy but that in practice the government was yet to allocate sufficient funds to put renewable energy into practice. Currently, only 67 percent of Indonesia’s total regions have access to electricity. The remainder has no such access despite the fact that they are rich in renewable energy sources such as firewood and biomass. (Jakarta Post)

EC to require large companies to report on social and environmental matters  

Tomorrow, the European Commission will adopt a proposal for a directive enhancing the transparency of certain large companies on social and environmental matters. Companies concerned will need to disclose information on policies, risks and results as regards environmental matters, social and employee-related aspects, respect for human rights, anti-corruption and bribery issues, and diversity on the boards of directors. Under current legislation companies may choose to make this type of information public. However, the requirements of the existing legislation have proved to be unclear and ineffective and applied in different ways in different Member States. Currently, fewer than 10 percent of the largest EU companies disclose such information regularly. (Europa)

Water corruption accounts for 30 percent revenue lost in Africa

Thirty percent of national budget allocated to water resources in most African countries is lost as a result of unethical practices by various officials, a water expert has disclosed. Mr James Leten, Regional Programme Manager for Water Integrity on Capacity Building of the Stockholm International Water Institute, made the disclosure at a workshop in Ghana last week. He called for drastic steps to halt the unethical practice and reverse the status quo so that funds for the Water Service Delivery in the continent were utilised for the correct purposes. The workshop aimed to assist participants in becoming ‘water integrity ambassadors’ in order to strengthen transparency, accountability and participation in water governance in their respective countries. (Ghana Business)

Social Investment

Tod’s pledges to help small businesses

Tod’s, the luxury clothing brand, will donate a percentage of its profits to help small Italian companies struggling in the country's current economic climate. The luxury group's chief, Diego Della Valle, confirmed that one per cent of net profits will be donated annually to support businesses in the Marche region of Italy – which is where Tod's is based. The entrepreneur estimated that in 2013, the brand will bequeath around €2m (£1.7m). He emphasised that the money should benefit children, young aspiring businesses and the elderly in particular, through a number of institutions. (Vogue)