Top Stories

August 10, 2017

Human Rights

Migrant crisis triggers heightened risk of slavery in EU supply chains, say analysts

The migrant crisis has increased the risk of slavery and forced labour tainting supply chains in three-quarters of EU countries over the past year, according to the Annual Modern Slavery Index. Romania, Italy, Cyprus and Bulgaria – all key entry points into Europe for migrants subject to exploitation – were identified as particularly vulnerable to slavery and forced labour. Produced by Verisk Maplecroft, the index assessed the conditions that make labour exploitation more likely. It found that even the EU’s largest economies were not immune. The UK, which introduced the Modern Slavery Act in 2016, has experienced a slight negative shift in its scores, moving from low risk to medium. Dr. Alexandra Channer, a human rights analyst at Verisk Maplecroft said the change was marginal driven by “[lack of] enforcement”, as new data revealed gaps in the UK’s labour inspectorate. In Germany, which has also experienced an upward shift in its score, there was an increase in recorded trafficking and servitude violations. (Guardian)

Responsible Investment

Interest in sustainable investing is growing, Morgan Stanley survey finds

Retail investors, particularly millennials, are driving growth in sustainable investing, according to the latest edition of an investor survey by the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing. Based on a survey of 1,000 U.S. investors, the survey found that 75% of individual investors and 86% of millennial investors, say that they are “interested in” sustainable investing while 38% of millennials are “very interested”, up from 28% since 2015. The firm explained the heightened interest from millennials to be likely tied to their “strong belief that they can make a positive difference with their own investments”. The survey also found that investor attention to sustainability is growing faster than consumer concern with sustainability as 71% of investors say that good environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices can potentially lead to higher profitability. (Investment Executive)


Latin American renewables sector enjoys twin funding boost

Latin America’s fast-expanding renewables sector received a twin-boost this week as two leading developers announced they had secured funding for giant wind farm projects in Chile and Mexico. Mainstream Renewable Power announced yesterday that its Chilean joint venture Aela Energía has obtained $410 million in project financing for two wind farms, expected to be completed in the second half of 2018 and to power the equivalent of 460,000 households. General Manager of Mainstream Chile, Bart Doyle, said the projects “were awarded through a competitive tendering process in which wind energy prices came in below fossil fuel prices, clearly demonstrating that renewable energy is cheaper than fossil fuel generation”. The project financing will be provided by a group of multilateral and commercial banks including Inter-American Development Bank and its member affiliates, and KfW and Banco Santander as VAT lender. (Business Green)

Corporate Reputation

Amazon sued by transgender woman and husband for workplace harassment

A transgender woman and her husband have sued, accusing the company of subjecting them to severe harassment and physical threats when they both worked at the retailer’s warehouse in Kentucky. The couple lodged a series of complaints with supervisors, but the company took no action, the lawsuit said. Supervisors joined in the harassment and were instructed to “watch them closely”. The couple quit their jobs in 2015 following repetitive harassment and the sabotage of their car’s brake lines. A group representing the couple said their case was striking given the Seattle-based company’s vocal support of LGBT rights. The couple say Amazon violated federal and Kentucky laws banning sex discrimination in the workplace and infringed the Americans with Disabilities Act as supervisors viewed the women’s gender dysphoria as a disability. (Reuters)


Airbnb cancels accounts linked to white nationalist rally in Charlottesville

Airbnb has cancelled a number of accounts and bookings associated with the Unite the Right Free Speech Rally, which “seeks to affirm the right of Southerners and white people to organize for their interests,” according to an event description on Facebook. Thousands of people are expected to descend on Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday to participate in, or protest against, a white nationalist rally. Charlottesville has become a nexus of protest and counterprotest between white nationalists and the anti-fascist and anti-racist groups that often demonstrate alongside them. Airbnb confirmed it had cancelled the accounts of some users who were involved with the event, citing the company’s request that its users commit to “accept people regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age”. (New York Times)


Image Source: Amazon warehouse by Scott Lewis at Flickr. CC 2.0.