Top Stories

September 26, 2018

Corporate Reputation / Policy & Research

Report: Corporate sponsorship diverts research and distorts public policy

Corporate sponsorship of academic studies is diverting researchers away from important public health questions and potentially distorting government policy, a new study has found. The findings, published by University of Sydney researchers in the American Journal of Public Health, highlight the influence of the alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceutical, food, mining and chemical industries on the agenda of academic researchers. The paper seeks to understand how the corporate sponsorship of academic research shapes the agendas of researchers. The study cites the example of Coca-Cola, saying the company attempted to shift attention away from the role sugary drinks play in obesity by funding research on the benefits of physical activity. “They fund research that can be used to promote their products or distract from the harms of their products, or to drive the research away from policies that will tend to harm them” the lead author, Alice Fabbri, told Guardian Australia. (Guardian Australia)


UK business giants commit to ‘world-first’ Roadmap to halve food waste

Some of the UK’s largest supermarkets, hospitality firms and food and drink manufacturers have committed to a “world-first” initiative from WRAP to halve food waste by measuring and acting on wastage levels across a “farm-to-fork” approach. A total of 89 organisations have committed to reducing the UK’s annual £20bn food waste costs, through WRAP’s Food Waste Reduction Roadmap. The initiative encompasses the entire food supply chain, with producers, manufacturers, retailers, restaurants and food service companies announced as early adopters of the cause. UK supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, Aldi, Lidl and Waitrose will use a Target-Measure-Act approach to identify ways of reducing surplus unsold food. The Roadmap has set a one-year goal to enrol 50% of all major retailers and large food businesses in the UK to the programme. By 2026, it is hoped the 250 largest UK companies across the two sectors will be added to the programme. (Edie)


Chile shuts down polluting industries, declaring health alert in Valparaiso towns

Chile has issued a health warning sparked by air pollution levels in the coastal towns of Quintero and Puchuncav, in central Valparaiso region, the environment ministry said in a statement. Authorities have ordered local polluting industries to suspend operations, following hundreds of cases of residents showing signs of intoxication from high concentrations of contaminants in the air. According to the Minister of the Environment, Carolina Schmidt, this decision “allows the suspension of polluting activities throughout the area”. The government is looking for a permanent solution to the crisis, which has been decades in the making, Carolina told reporters, adding that “the government has taken every step to reduce such episodes in the area” but “you can’t eliminate more than 50 years of pollution in one month.” Officials are mulling tougher emissions standards for sulfur dioxide (SO2) by adopting international norms. (Santiago Times)

Human Rights / Supply Chain

Investor Alliance for Human Rights calls on jewellery manufacturers & retailers to source responsibly

The Investor Alliance for Human Rights has issued a statement on Responsible Sourcing in the Jewellery Supply Chain calling on companies in the jewellery industry to review their policies and practices and take action to ensure responsible sourcing of gold, diamonds, and other precious minerals and gems. The statement urges jewellery manufacturers and retailers to conduct human rights due diligence in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas. It emphasises to investors in the jewellery industry, which generates over $300 billion in revenue each year, that “responsible management of global supply chain risks is material to investors. Where businesses fail to respect human rights in their own operations or in their supply chains, there is a risk of expensive litigation and reputational harm.” (Business & Human Rights)

SDGs / Supply Chain

International Fair Trade Charter defines vision for a fairer world

More than 250 organizations around the world came together on 25 September to launch an International Fair Trade Charter that sets down the fundamental values of Fair Trade and defines a common vision towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The International Fair Trade Charter sets out a vision of a world in which justice, equity and sustainable development are at the heart of trade structures, business models and practices so that everyone, through their work, can maintain a decent and dignified livelihood and develop their full human potential. The Charter, initiated by Fairtrade International and the World Fair Trade Organization, defines new models that build a stronger economy and environment for all. It has been recognized by an escalating number of diverse local, national and international organizations from across the cooperative, social enterprise, organic, farmer and global solidarity movements. (Fairtrade International)


Image source: Diamond by Judit Klein on Flickr. CC BY-ND 2.0.