Top Stories

January 19, 2015

Rankings and Awards

RobecoSAM publishes annual DJSI Sustainability Yearbook 2015

Investment specialist RobecoSAM has today announced the publication of The Sustainability Yearbook 2015. The yearbook summarises RobecoSAM’s ESG assessment of listed companies from around the world for the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI), listing the best 15% per industry and ranking them Gold, Silver or Bronze. The top-performing company from each of the 59 industries analysed is named Industry Leader. Companies promoted to Industry Leader status in 2015 include Royal Mail, AMEC and Unilever, which has re-taken the Food Producers top spot from competitor Nestlé. Split by region, Europe holds the greatest number of companies included in the Yearbook as well as the most Gold Class medal winners. Over the years the participation rate in RobecoSAM’s assessment has on average steadily grown by seven percent annually. With a total of 1,995 assessed companies, this year’s corporate sustainability assessment provides a record 87 per cent coverage rate of the total global Yearbook universe market capitalization. (3BL Media)


Supermarket food waste: Combined UK figures revealed for first time

The UK’s seven major supermarkets contributed to just 1.3% of all food waste in 2013, according to the first annual food waste report from the British Retail Consortium (BRC). The report uses data from Asda, the Co-operative Food, M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose – making up 87.3% of the UK grocery market. It reveals that, of the estimated 15 million tonnes of food thrown away in the UK each year, 200,000 tonnes comes from these retailers, while more than half is generated in the home. BRC director of food and sustainability Andrew Opie said the figures tell a “positive story” for retailers, but illustrate that supermarkets have “huge contribution” to make in helping reduce waste in the supply chain and the home. The report highlights how supermarkets are working with farmers and producer groups to tackle food waste and losses in agriculture; and with organisations such as FareShare, FoodCycle and Community Shop to redistribute unsold surplus food to those who need it. (Edie)

International Development

Inequality on the agenda at Davos

Billionaires and politicians gathering in Switzerland this week will come under pressure to tackle rising inequality after a study found that – on current trends – by next year, 1% of the world’s population will own more wealth than the other 99%. Ahead of this week’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the anti-poverty charity Oxfam said it would use its high-profile role at the gathering to demand urgent action to narrow the gap between rich and poor.  Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International and one of the six co-chairs at this year’s WEF, said “The message is that rising inequality is dangerous. It’s bad for growth and it’s bad for governance. We see a concentration of wealth capturing power and leaving ordinary people voiceless and their interests uncared for.” Pope Francis and the International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde have been among those warning that rising inequality will damage the world economy if left unchecked. (The Guardian)

Supply Chain

Report finds Asia Pulp and Paper lagging on social responsibility commitments

A field-based survey by NGO Rainforest Action Network (RAN) investigating Asia Pulp and Paper (APP)’s performance on social responsibility commitments, says that there little on-the-ground evidence to date that APP is taking sufficient action to resolve land conflict issues. In February 2013, APP announced a new Forest Conservation Policy, following criticism from environmental groups who put pressure on companies including KFC and Mattel to drop the company as a supplier. However, RAN’s report claims there has been little change for communities embroiled in land disputes with the company and APP has failed to involve affected communities and other key stakeholders in the identification, analysis and resolution of these conflicts. In a statement to Sustainable Brands, APP responded: “Although there is much more to be done, we have had some early successes, such as our work with the community in Senyerang.” (Sustainable Brands)


The real social cost of carbon: $220 per ton, report finds

A new paper by two Stanford University researchers contends that current government estimates of the “social cost of carbon” – a key metric of the economic damage caused by climate change used in cost-benefit analysis of regulations – could fall woefully short of reality. The researchers argue that the social cost of carbon on the global economy is actually about $220 for each tonne of carbon dioxide emitted, far from the $37 calculated by the US government. One key explanation for the big disparity is the likelihood of stunted GDP growth when countries use their capital to repair damage related to climate change. The research comes at a time when businesses and governments are scrambling to assess the value of all sorts of assets that may be affected by climate risks. “If the social cost of carbon is higher, many more mitigation measures will pass a cost-benefit analysis,” wrote Delavane Diaz, Stanford report co-author. (GreenBiz)


Image source: Coal power plant Datteln 2 by Arnold Paul /CC BY-SA 3.0