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newsletter 12/2016

Our topics:

1. Customers

- oekom research supports Assurinvest AG with sustainable investment universes

2. oekom Services

- Industry Focus Household & Personal Products

- Updated oekom Position Paper on biofuels

3. Studies/Publications

- EU study on the potential of green bonds for financing resource-efficient investments

- New SÜDWIND fact sheets on “Agenda 2030 – Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”

4. Initiatives

- Swiss Sustainable Finance: “Handbook on Sustainable Investment”

- PRI Global Guide to Responsible Investment Regulation

- New SASB Library for sustainability reporting

5. Books

- John Manners-Bell: Supply Chain Ethics: Using CSR and Sustainability to Create Competitive Advantage

- Heidrun E. Kopp (editor): CSR and Financial Ratings. Sustainable Finance: Rating Rather Than Instalments!

6. Events

- The encyclical Laudato Si and Catholic investment strategies

- PRI webinar: The Chemical Footprint Project Investor Briefing

- Environmental Finance Conference “Water: Risk, Opportunity & Sustainability”



1. Customers

oekom research supports Assurinvest AG with sustainable investment universes

Assurinvest AG is one of the Swiss pension funds market’s biggest independent service providers. In order to be able to consider sustainability criteria in the selection of individual investment universes, the company now uses the evaluation and analyses of oekom research. The total research universe currently covers more than 6,200 issuers – among them companies, associated issuers, countries and local authorities. From this, oekom research identifies and selects those issuers that perform especially well in regards to social and environmental criteria. Countries and companies that do not live up to these ethical standards are excluded from the universe. This includes businesses that manufacture tobacco products or exploit child labour.

Daniel Werdenberg, member of the management board at Assurinvest AG, is glad about the cooperation with oekom research: „Thanks to the detailed and comprehensive sustainability assessment and evaluation we are now able to manage highly individual and specific mandates and special funds. This is an important addition to our self-understanding and consultancy approach.“

Contact: Advisory und Reporting, Assurinvest AG. Tel. 0041-55 286 33 33, E-mail info@assurinvest.ch


2. oekom Services

Industry Focus Household & Personal Products

IF Household&Personal ProductsWith 34 companies in the oekom Universe, the Household & Personal Products industry is characterised by a broad product portfolio ranging from personal-care products such as shampoos, toothpastes, sanitary products and diapers to household cleaners and disinfectants, as well as household articles and stationery. While some companies offer almost the entire product range, others focus on just one or a few of the named product groups. One thing all these manufacturers have in common is that they process synthetic, plant-based and secondary raw materials to produce consumer goods that come into close contact with the human body and are released into the environment via wastewater and rubbish disposal.

The industry’s central task from a sustainability perspective is to reduce the negative impact of its products – primarily during the usage phase by consumers, but also beforehand during the sourcing of raw materials. Compared with other industries’ sustainability performance ratings, the Household & Personal Products industry scores very well in the oekom Corporate Rating, achieving, with 39.12 points in the oekom Performance Score (OPS), the topmost ranking on the comparison scale. The Top 3 companies in the industry were Henkel (DE) with the rating B, and Svenska Cellulosa (SE) and Kao Corp (JP) each with the rating B-.

The oekom Industry Focus Household & Personal Products can be ordered free of charge from communications@oekom-research.com.


Updated oekom Position Paper on biofuels

PP BiofuelsBiofuels are fuels which are used in combustion engines or heating systems and produced from biomass. Plants frequently used as sources are maize, rape, wheat, soya, sugar cane and oil palm.

Globally, bioethanol is currently the most important biofuel. The largest producers are Brazil and the USA which, together, account for 85 per cent of global bioethanol production. This contrasts with the EU, where biodiesel is the predominant biofuel. In the EU, biodiesel is also the most important biofuel in the transport sector with an 80 per cent market share based on calorific value. The problems associated with cultivating energy plants for biofuel production primarily include the clearing of virgin forests and cultivation of natural areas. Particularly the extensive cultivation in emerging and developing countries can endanger water supplies, promote soil erosion, and render the soil unusable over the medium term through overuse.

Future trends in the use of biofuels will be determined decisively by three factors: the cost of crude oil, state support and technological development. Of central importance for the acceptance of biofuels as an alternative to conventional fuels will be a broad consideration of their manifold environmental and social risks and the ability to find satisfactory solutions to these.

The oekom Position Paper Biofuels can be ordered free of charge from communications@oekom-research.com.


3. Studies/Publications

EU study on the potential of green bonds for financing resource-efficient investments

EU Studie Green BondsGreen bonds are an important factor in financing investments that can be used to achieve the EU’s climate and energy goals and fulfil the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The report “Study on the potential of green bond finance for resource-efficient investments” presents a comprehensive analysis of the development of the green bond market and its internal mechanisms, as well as its main players and areas. It also summarises the weaknesses that could hamper the market’s further development and identifies ways in which the public sector can overcome these obstacles. Furthermore, it evaluates the regulatory feasibility and the expected mechanisms of the standardisation proposals concerned.

The report can be downloaded free of charge from the following link: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/enveco/pdf/potential-green-bond.pdf 


New SÜDWIND fact sheets on “Agenda 2030 – Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”

In 2015, the international community agreed on an extensive orientation framework in the form of its Agenda 2030 programme. Serving as the key element of its implementation are the United Nations’ SDGs that, if they are to be achieved, will require sizeable investments and the participation of private enterprises and investors. SÜDWIND has published two fact sheets on this and shows that a commitment from the private-sector does not automatically guarantee achievement of the SDGs but, rather, that it also has to be steered in the right direction.

The fact sheet “Agenda 2030 – Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): The role of the private sector” investigates which of the 17 SDGs can be significantly leveraged by the private sector. The fact sheet “Agenda 2030 – Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): partnerships with the private sector” looks into the various forms of cooperation between the public and private sectors which could become increasingly important in an SDG framework.

Both fact sheets can be downloaded here: http://bit.ly/2hGKmtM.


4. Initiatives

Swiss Sustainable Finance: “Handbook on Sustainable Investment”

Swiss Sustainable FinanceWith this Handbook on Sustainable Investment, Swiss Sustainable Finance (SSF) primarily aims to facilitate the introduction of institutional investors to the topic. The Handbook, which is based on the expertise of SSF’s members, offers a comprehensive, practice-orientated overview of existing approaches and current trends in the sustainable investment sector.

The sustainable investment market is currently characterised by highly dynamic growth. In Switzerland, alone, volume has more than doubled over the past year. Another trend being driven by the rapidly rising global demand for sustainable investments is the permanent offer of new services and the refinement of existing approaches. One of SSF’s goals is to use trade events and publications as a platform for informing stakeholders on this rapidly expanding market. 

The Handbook is split into four sections: 

  • Sustainable investment context
  • Various sustainable investments
  • Special topics
  • Implementation steps

The Handbook can be downloaded in English and German from: http://bit.ly/2fHNgxf.


PRI Global Guide to Responsible Investment Regulation

The Global Guide to Responsible Investment Regulation issued by PRI (Principles for Responsible Investment) concludes that investors still remain doubtful as to the actual efficacy of regulations in the responsible investment field. On the other hand, it is generally recognised that individual regulatory aspects in this area are principally suitable for raising awareness for ESG aspects.  

The report investigates almost 300 regulatory requirements encompassing e.g. pension fund regulation, stewardship codes and business disclosure regulations. It also contains interviews with many political and investment stakeholders and draws conclusions from these on whether such regulations influence the way in which investors think and act with respect to ESG factors.

The Global Guide to Responsible Investment Regulation can be downloaded from: http://bit.ly/2dsZ2My.


New SASB Library for sustainability reporting

The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) is presenting a new anthology of policies and guides as well as technical data sheets and research information. It also contains the newly published SASB annual report, the Annual State of Disclosure Report. It is the first publication to compare and evaluate the disclosure of sustainability measures in SEC documents. Some of the report’s main findings are:

  • 81 per cent of the sustainability topics that SASB addresses are already taken into account in the submission of SEC documentation. This shows that the issues are increasingly being recognised by companies and promise to have an impact on their business.
  • However, less than 24 per cent of the documents contain concrete figures, while over 53 per cent use standard texts such as corporate boilerplates etc. This suggests that many companies only fulfil the minimum requirements for sustainability reporting.
  • For the first time, SASB is publishing the state of reporting in a sector-specific ranking. With respect to the mechanisms and efficacy of their sustainability reporting, the five best industries are: Education & Science, Car Rental & Leasing, Cruise & Shipping Companies, Gas Utilities and Tobacco companies.

The newly organised SASB Library can be found here: https://library.sasb.org/ 


5. Books

John Manners-Bell: Supply Chain Ethics: Using CSR and Sustainability to Create Competitive Advantage

Manners: Supply Chain EthicsIn his examination of supply chain management models, John Manners-Bell juxtaposes conventional supply-chain management geared solely towards profit maximisation, and a variant centring on ethical and sustainability aspects. Using case studies and data evaluations, he reaches the conclusion that supply chains can only be economically successful if they take each of the three dimensions profit generation, environmental compatibility and positive social impact into account. Overall, a triple advantage is achievable by integrating sustainability aspects into global business. Against this background, traditional supply-chain systems with their view mainly on costs are deemed untenable in the future.

The book presents best practices of globally active manufacturers, traders and logistics companies. With the dominant theme of environmental and social sustainability, it provides examples from the areas of product design, sourcing and storage, transportation, logistics and recycling, as well as supply-chain technologies.

The book, to be published by Kogan Page, should be available as of March 2017. Further information is available at: http://bit.ly/2hbAkSu.


Heidrun E. Kopp (editor): CSR and Financial Ratings. Sustainable Finance: Rating Rather Than Instalments!

Kopp: CSR und FinanzratingsIn the framework of the discussion on corporate social responsibility, the publication looks into the issue of corporate sustainability ratings and their role in socio-environmentally-motivated investment decisions. In doing so, sustainability ratings, as well as appropriate quality labels, are highlighted as key instruments for rating companies’ non-financial performance. At the same time, the book also investigates how a successful CSR strategy or recognised sustainability rating can have a positive impact on a company’s economic success.

The book gives CSR experts and interested consumers an overview of the development, form and relevance of sustainability ratings and quality labels. It also shows the role or leverage that financial companies and consumers can have in increasing the offer of green financial products.

In the section “Unternehmensrating gestern – heute – morgen: Herausforderungen und Chancen” [Corporate ratings yesterday – today – tomorrow: challenges and opportunities], oekom research CEO Robert Haßler reflects on the beginnings, development and future opportunities of the sustainability rating industry.

“CSR und Finanzratings. Nachhaltige Finanzwirtschaft: Rating statt Raten!” was initially published in November 2016 as part of Springer Verlag’s Corporate Social Responsibility management series (in German).

More information is available at: http://www.springer.com/de/book/9783662474600.


6. Events

The encyclical Laudato Si and Catholic investment strategies

The importance and necessary urgency of a speedy and just transformation from fossil fuels to clean and environmentally-friendly energy available for everyman cannot be underestimated. Catholic institutions regard themselves as playing a pivotal role here. Inspired by the encyclical Laudato Si and its call for action, the international conference wants to discuss the connections between Catholic organisations and fossil fuel divestment as well as investments in renewable-energy concepts on a municipal basis.

The conference will be held in Rome on 27 January 2017 and address the following points:

 

  • Safeguarding our common basis of existence without leaving anyone behind: Laudato Si and its messages on climate change, energy supplies and poverty
  • Strategies to expedite a just and needed energy revolution by the Catholic Church.

 

 More information is available at: http://www.catholicclimateinvesting.com/.


PRI webinar: The Chemical Footprint Project Investor Briefing

In times of increasing regulation of chemical products and growing market demand for safe substances, investors need additional standards to allow for better comparison of companies’ policies for dealing with chemicals. The Chemical Footprint Project (CFP) Assessment Survey intends to provide answers to these issues and offers standards that allow the measurement, evaluation and communication of companies’ performance in dealing with chemicals.

In a webinar on 26 January 2017, the cofounders of CFP and investors will discuss the significance and importance of participating in the CFP survey. Also to be discussed will be the development of the survey, the added valued it offers investors and businesses and opportunities to support CFP.

Further information and webinar registration can be found at http://bit.ly/2h0WnX4.


Environmental Finance Conference “Water: Risk, Opportunity & Sustainability”

UK trade magazine Environmental Finance will be hosting a conference on the most pressing sustainability aspects of water on 05 April 2017 in London. According to Environmental Finance, water-related green bonds have already breached the USD 10 billion threshold. In connection with this, the conference wants to discuss the growing importance of managing water-related risks, and look into new trends and opportunities offered around the globe by investments into water technologies and appropriate infrastructure.

Further information and details of the event can be found at: http://bit.ly/2gAPEoo


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