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April 08, 2015

International Development

Mars announces pioneering partnership with World Food Programme on World Health Day

Food giant Mars and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced a new partnership yesterday – on World Health Day – that will improve the WFP’s provision of safe, locally-sourced food in Africa. WFP’s policy is to buy food as close as possible to where it is needed, to help sustain local economies and to save time and money. WFP purchases more than 2 million tonnes of food every year, at least three quarters from developing countries. The two-year partnership with Mars will enable the WFP to work with suppliers to establish new food safety guidelines, thus improving the availability of safe foods. Through the partnership, Mars will provide technical expertise through workshops, auditing of suppliers and lab analyses. It will also fund the hire of a new, full-time expert within WFP based in Nairobi, who will lead the implementation of expanded food safety initiatives with African suppliers. (3BL Media)


World Bank welcomes China’s new bank as means to fight poverty

The World Bank plans to work together with the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to fight poverty and fund infrastructure projects. More than 50 countries including Britain, France and Germany have joined China’s initiative, a US$50 billion multilateral infrastructure bank that will provide project loans to countries across Asia and plans to begin operations at the end of the year. The World Bank president, Jim Yong Kim, suggested the World Bank and AIIB could co-finance individual infrastructure projects or work on regional integration, as developing countries face at least US$1 trillion in infrastructure needs. Kim said in a speech: “With the right environment, labour and procurement standards, the AIIB and the New Development Bank, established by the BRICS countries, have the potential to become great new forces in the economic development of poor countries and emerging markets.” (The Guardian)


India launches air quality index to give pollution information

India has launched its first air quality index, to provide real time information about pollution levels. The index, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will initially monitor air quality in 10 cities. Last year the Environmental Preference Index ranked India 174 out of 178 countries for air quality. The rising and health-endangering pollution has been mainly blamed on a huge increase in vehicles, particularly diesel-driven cars, on Indian roads. Polluting industries, open burning of refuse and leaves, massive quantities of construction waste and substantial loss of forests have also led to high pollution levels in cities. Pollution is a leading cause of premature death in India, with around 620,000 people dying each year from pollution-related diseases, says the World Health Organisation (WHO). A WHO survey last year found that 13 of the most polluted 20 cities in the world were in India, whilst the capital, Delhi, was the most polluted city in the world. (Eco-Business)


Shell seeks to remove Greenpeace activists from oil rig

Royal Dutch Shell has filed a complaint in federal court in Alaska seeking an order to remove activists from the environmental group, Greenpeace, who climbed aboard an oil rig in the Pacific Ocean bound for the Arctic on Monday in a protest against Arctic drilling. Greenpeace said its team would occupy the underside of the main deck of the Polar Pioneer, which is under contract to Shell, and plans to reveal a banner with the names of millions of people opposed to Arctic drilling. The move comes just days after the US Interior Department upheld a 2008 lease sale in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska, moving Shell a step closer to returning to oil and gas exploration in the Arctic since it suffered mishaps in the region in 2012. Many environmentalists oppose offshore energy exploration in the Arctic, saying that once production begins any oil spill would be extremely difficult to clean up. (Reuters)

Responsible Investment

RobecoSAM launches ESG-tilted index for European sovereign bonds

Today, sustainability investment specialist RobecoSAM and S&P Dow Jones Indices have announced the launch of the S&P ESG Pan-Europe Sovereign Bond Index. The index measures the performance of European sovereign bonds based on the notion that ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) is an important element of a country’s long-term investment profile. The index is based on RobecoSAM’s Country Sustainability Ranking, which evaluates countries on a broad range of ESG factors. It primarily focuses on mid to long-term factors that have an indirect impact on a government’s ability to repay its debt or raise revenues, but that are not considered by traditional sovereign ratings, including carbon emissions, energy use, political stability, equality, rights and liberties and democratic participation. In 2014, RobecoSAM rated Sweden as first out of the 56 countries that were assessed, followed by Norway and Switzerland. (RobecoSAM)

Image Source: Arctic Sunrise Greenpeace Rijeka by Roberta F / CC BY-SA 3.0