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SRI bodies act to raise profile of ethical investing

April 2011

Leaders of socially responsible investment associations around the world held a strategic summit in New York last month to discuss research collaboration, global policy programmes and sharing best practice, in a first for the ethical investment world.

Raising the profile of SRI and advancing ‘a more sustainable economy at all levels’ were the aims of the gathering of the Canadian Social Investment Organization, the US Social Investment Forum (US SIF), Eurosif, UKSIF, the pan-Asia ASrIA, the Responsible Investment Association Australasia and AfricaSIF.

The seven organizations, which are membership associations for professionals, firms, institutions and organizations engaged in socially responsible and sustainable investing, have worked together informally for years.

But now they believe that the ‘near universal’ growth in value of assets in the responsible and sustainable investment market across the world offers an opportunity for co-ordinated action on a wide variety of SRI issues.

One result of the meeting was an agreement to collaborate on developing universal methodologies for counting assets and measuring responsible investments internationally, which should allow investors to build up a more comprehensive picture of the state of responsible investing.

There will also be joint work on new research, global policy initiatives, professional education for the socially responsible and sustainable investing industry, and the sharing of best practices among organizations.    

Lisa Woll, chief executive of US SIF, said: ‘We believe that an increasingly global society and financial system require strong relationships among all the groups working on sustainable and responsible investing.

‘We see this meeting as the first of many steps that we will take to raise our joint profile globally and to increase the impact of our individual organizations.’

In future, said Woll, the groups will plan to meet annually to discuss progress and new ideas on the promotion of socially responsible investment.

? Shareholder resolutions backed by the US Social Investment Forum have encouraged three leading US electric utilities, Dominion, Southern Company and PPL Corporation, to agree to significantly expand their reporting and disclosure on water availability risks and plans.

The move came after shareholder resolutions on the topic were put forward by the Investor Network on Climate Risk, a network of 96 institutional investors with $9.5trillion of collective assets.

The resolutions are among 29 recently filed with 19 US electric power companies in the 2011 proxy season on issues ranging from water-scarcity concerns to greenhouse gas emissions and the use of renewable energy. Resolutions in the US addressing climate and energy across all companies have increased by 50 per cent on 2010 totals.




Global | SRI

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