Top Stories

November 20, 2017


The Independent Research in Responsible Investment survey (IRRI 2017)

The IRRI Survey is open for voting between 1st and 30th November and IR & CSR directors of quoted companies are encouraged to respond. Vote here.
The survey:

  • Recognises and rewards best practice in Independent Research for Responsible Investment (RI)
  • Identifies what asset managers value from their RI/Corporate Governance research providers and,
  • Measures & communicates on trends, opinions and developments within RI & CG research
  • Explores what research providers value from asset managers and companies


Cocoa Industry, Governments Unveil Frameworks for Action on Deforestation

The largest cocoa-producing countries, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, announced far-reaching frameworks for action on deforestation with leading chocolate and cocoa companies, including Cargill, General Mills, Hershey, Mars, Mondelēz International and Nestlé, at COP23 last week. The Framework of Action of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative aims to end deforestation and restore forest areas. The companies and governments pledged to eliminate illegal cocoa production in national parks and enforce national forest policies more effectively. The public-private actions outlined in the framework will be essential for ensuring protection and restoration, as well as the long-term economic viability of over two million smallholder farmers who earn income from the crop’s production. Additionally, the actions are aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement and will play a crucial role in sequestering carbon stocks and addressing global and local climate change. (Sustainable Brands)

Update to: Rare victory for rainforests as nations vow to stop ‘death by chocolate’


EU to push for 40% quota for women on company boards

The European Commission is to push for a quota for women on company boards to address the slow progress to gender equality in the senior levels of publicly listed businesses. Under the proposals, companies whose non-executive directors are more than 60% male would be required to prioritise women when candidates of equal merit were being considered for a post. The proportion of women on the boards of the largest listed companies across the EU has more than doubled, from 10% in 2005 to 22% in 2015. However, women account for only 7% of board chairs and presidents and 6% of chief executives in the largest companies. Previous attempts by the EU’s executive to set a 40% goal for women in the top ranks of listed companies have been blocked by Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden overs fears that Brussels was overreaching into domestic affairs. A quota for boards will be one of a series of legislative proposals aimed at tightening the law to improve diversity and pay practices in work. (Guardian)


Release 2 of the Future-Fit Business Benchmark available now

The Future-Fit Foundation, a non-profit organisation helping business address some of society’s biggest challenges, has announced the Release 2 of its Future-Fit Business Benchmark. The Benchmark enables any company to assess the positive and negative impacts of its actions, and report on these to stakeholders in a concise and comparable way. After 18 months of work with The Body Shop, Novo Nordisk, Grant Thornton and other ‘early adopters’, the updated Release 2 of the Future-Fit Business Benchmark promises to solidify the extra-financial criteria that all businesses must meet if they are to thrive in an increasingly volatile and resource-constrained world. Release 2 incorporates important learnings from the Development Council’s use of the Benchmark, to make it more useful in support of day-to-day business decisions. Release 2 also adds specific guidance on how to pursue and measure positive outcomes at a system level. (Future Fit Business)


UK trade minister lobbied Brazil on behalf of oil giants

Britain successfully lobbied Brazil on behalf of BP and Shell to address the oil giants’ concerns over Brazilian taxation, environmental regulation and rules on using local firms, government documents reveal. The UK’s trade minister, Greg Hands, travelled to Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and São Paulo in March to help British energy, mining and water companies win business in Brazil. Greg Hands met with Paulo Pedrosa, Brazilian deputy minister for mines and energy, and “directly” raised the concerns of UK-based oil firms Shell, BP and Premier Oil over “taxation and environmental licensing”. The UK government denies it was lobbying to weaken the environmental licensing regime. In August, Brazil proposed a multibillion-dollar tax relief plan for offshore drilling, and in October, BP and Shell won the majority of deep-water drilling licenses in a government auction. (Guardian)


Tobacco companies could be sued for billions in healthcare costs, experts warn

Health experts are urging Australian governments to sue international tobacco companies for billions of dollars in healthcare costs for treating smoking-related illnesses. Canadian provincial governments have launched several successful lawsuits against tobacco giants in recent years, and experts suggest Australia should follow Canada’s lead. The social and healthcare cost of smoking in Australia is estimated to be $40 billion annually. Smoking rates in Australia have fallen dramatically, but smoking still kills an estimated 15,000 people every year. In a statement, a Philip Morris spokesperson said the company is committed to changing its business and that, “we would encourage those who want to see a smoke-free Australia focus their attention on proven products that have the potential to substantially improve public health.” (ABC News)


Image Source: Deforestation 2074483b by Dikshajhingan at Wikimedia Commons. CC 4.0