Top Stories

February 19, 2016


Top food companies join new WWF Institute to feed nine billion

Environmental charity WWF has launched the Markets Institute to Advance Sustainable Food Production, in partnership with food companies including Mars, Kellogg, Unilever and General Mills. The Institute’s objective is to scale market-based solutions across the industry to spark “systemic change” in how food is grown, procured, shipped and distributed. “Most of the problems we really need to be addressing are too big for one company,” said Jason Clay, WWF senior vice president and executive director of the Markets Institute. “Many of the companies are thinking about the right thing, but they are not talking to each other. We needed to create a space for them to convene so they are comfortable talking about such things as how raw materials are sourced.” The Markets Institute aims to tackle many problems in the food growing and distribution arena, but will be “starting with how to encourage investment in a more sustainable production among smallholder farmers”. (Business Green)

Human Rights

Ruggie: Fifa reform could be human rights landmark

The Harvard professor overseeing a review of Fifa’s human rights policies has claimed that if the embattled governing body is serious about reform it could be a landmark moment for “advancing human dignity around the world”. John Ruggie, who developed the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, will deliver a set of recommendations to football’s crisis-hit governing body in March. Ruggie said he took on the challenge because the prize was so great if the desire among countries to host major sporting events could be allied to using them to improve human rights. “Nobody has a right to host the World Cup. Fifa has every right to determine the conditions as a self-governing entity and Fifa has every right to hold them to that,” he said. The Qatar 2022 World Cup has been beset by criticism over the rights of migrant workers building the stadiums and associated infrastructure. Fifa has promised to rewrite its bidding guidelines to make them consistent with the UN Guiding Principles. (Guardian)


Malaysia signs deal with Bangladesh to hire 1.5 million workers

Malaysia and Dhaka have signed a memorandum of understanding to receive 1.5 million workers from Bangladesh in stages over the next three years. Malaysia is already home to more than 6 million foreign workers, filling jobs that are described as “3D” (dirty, difficult and dangerous), mainly in plantation, construction, manufacturing and cleaning services. The number of undocumented workers in the country is estimated between 3 million and 5 million. Executive director of anti-trafficking organisation Tenaganita, Glorene Das, questioned the move: “In the past years, we had so many recruitment processes, including legalisation processes, that were proven to be fraudulent… Today we find almost 5 million workers undocumented.” The Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs has denied that the move is politically motivated. Meanwhile, rights groups have warned of xenophobic attacks that may trigger violence in the community as the population of foreign workers increase.  (Channel News Asia)

Sustainable Development

UN Global Compact launches search for local SDG pioneers

The United Nations Global Compact has announced the launch of a multi-year ‘Local Network SDG Action Plan’, aimed at spurring action and inspiring business to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in countries around the world. The Action Plan is designed to assist the UN Global Compact’s 80-plus Local Networks in developing and executing relevant SDG implementation strategies and link them with national plans of action. The centrepiece “Pioneers” programme will identify local business leaders and change-makers, with the most inspiring Pioneers being recognised at the 2016 UN Global Compact Leaders Summit in New York. “Our new annual Local SDG Pioneers campaign is designed to make global goals local business,” said Lise Kingo, Executive Director of UN Global Compact. “The UN Global Compact is taking the lead on turning these goals into drivers for sustainable business innovation”.  (3BLmedia)

Responsible Investment

Calvert Investments launches Water Research Index

Responsible investment specialist Calvert Investments has launched the Calvert Global Water Research Index (CALH2O), an investment index focused on investing in companies dedicated to the responsible stewardship, sustainability and accessibility of Earth’s water. Calvert believes that driving capital to responsible companies in the water sector will drive more investment in solutions to global water challenges. By including both water efficiency leaders and innovators, the Index aims to provide a comprehensive approach to investing in water that addresses both the supply and demand sides of the water system. “We want to see more clean water get to more people,” said Calvert CEO John Streur. “We are striving to ultimately create a whole new water paradigm by rewarding the best users and encouraging innovation.” (Business Wire)



Image source: Young soybean plants by Tim McCabe / Public Domain