Top Stories

July 01, 2015

Human Rights

Unilever releases first-of-its-kind Human Rights Report

Unilever has this week published its inaugural Human Rights Report, becoming the first company to adopt the new UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework. The report highlights key areas of progress, including Unilever’s work to empower women, its progress in the fight against sexual harassment, and in addressing health and safety issues across the supply chain. It also details Unilever’s process for identifying “salient” human rights issues, as defined by the Framework. A particular focus of the report is harassment, which was the company’s highest internally reported salient issue in 2014. The report draws attention to key future focus areas, including addressing human rights issues beyond first-tier suppliers, working conditions for migrant labour, and continuing to collaborate to influence systemic change. The company said that the “overarching learning” from the report was that human rights issues remain “among the toughest challenges we face”. (Unilever)


Report: Local management is key to expanding volunteering programmes globally

A new report published by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation aims to act as a guide for companies looking to expand their employee volunteering programmes internationally from the US. The Global Employee Engagement Report explores the employee engagement landscape in China, Brazil, India, South Africa and the United Kingdom and identifies cultural nuances, policies and trends that practitioners should be aware of. Among other conclusions, the report finds that employees look to management within their company to signal expectations and establish norms, meaning that corporate culture can trump local culture. To this end, the report stresses the importance of local senior leadership buy-in, and the need for an on-the-ground resource with formal employee engagement responsibility, in order to ramp up employee participation and gauge and report back on employee reactions and concerns. (Silicon Valley Community Foundation)


China to cap rising emissions by 2030 in boost to Paris UN deal

China has formally committed to halting the rise in its greenhouse gas emissions within the next 15 years and pledged to reduce the carbon intensity of its vast economy, in a much-anticipated strategy. The world’s top greenhouse gas emitter, China said it would try to cap its carbon emissions before a 2030 target, in a plan that largely mirrors a US-Chinese environment agreement last year. “China’s carbon dioxide emission will peak by around 2030 and China will work hard to achieve the target at an even earlier date,” Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said. China did not, however, say at what level its emissions would peak. The cap is the first set by China, which has traditionally argued it needs to burn more fossil fuels to end poverty and that developed nations must lead in climate action. (Reuters)

US and Brazil set energy goals

The US and Brazil have unveiled ambitious energy goals in a sign of growing co-operation. US President Barack Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced plans to generate 20% of domestic electricity from renewable resources by 2030. “These are very ambitious goals, a near tripling for the United States and more than double Brazil’s current output,” President Obama said at a joint news conference. The Brazilian government has also pledged to eliminate illegal deforestation in the Amazon and to reforest swathes of degraded land. The announcement, which comes ahead of crucial climate talks at the UN Paris climate summit in December, was welcomed by businesses and civil society. (BBC; Business Green)

International Development

Millions have gained access to safe drinking water in last 25 years

Millions of additional people now have access to safe drinking water, but the resulting health gains could be undermined by a failure to meet a global target for improved sanitation, a new report shows. The report, published Tuesday by Unicef and the World Health Organisation, relates to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire in September 2015. The MDG target was to halve the proportion of people who lacked access to basic sanitation between 1990 and 2015. However, the goal has been missed by nearly 700 million people, the report says. In all, 2.4 billion people lack proper sanitation facilities. “It’s quite a significant shortfall,” said Tom Slaymaker, water and sanitation monitoring expert at Unicef. “Sanitation is generally less interesting to politicians and attracts less investment”. UN member states are currently debating a new set of Sustainable Development Goals to cover the period from 2015 to 2030. (Wall Street Journal*)

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Image source: Manjunath Kiran/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images