Monday, May 30, 2011

SRI Monitor Weekly News Update

Major UN Global Compact and Accenture Study on Sustainability as an Engine for more here

India wants market to curb more here

Sustainable business market to hit $60bn by more here

The Energizer bunny goes more here

A turning-point we miss at our more here

CSRHUB Releases Sustainability Ratings Widget to be Hosted on the Huffington more here

Compiled with the assistance of Nick Searle

Thursday, May 26, 2011

SRI Conference Preview: Marc Stoiber on SRI Branding

Creative director and brand strategist Marc Stoiber believes the SRI industry is stuck in clichés, bogged down by uninspiring language and lame acronyms.

Stoiber will speak on SRI branding at this year’s Canadian Responsible Investment Conference in Victoria.

“Is green the best way to position a green/SRI brand?” Stoiber asks. “Or should we simply be talking about [SRI products] as more enlightened, more innovative and more forward-thinking?”

Stoiber says terms like SRI and ESG lack the loft and inspiration needed to carry the industry forward. “Would Martin Luther King have rallied millions of people by saying “I have a socially responsible idea?” Right now, I fear the industry is stuck in clichés when it comes to describing the inspiration.”

“My main point is that we’re moving forward one tame increment after another,” Stoiber says. “This is a guarantee for sameness. It’s time to re-examine what SRI promises, see it from the consumers’ point of view and make it as exciting and inspiring as it needs to be.”

Although Stoiber is negative towards SRI as a brand, he certainly believes that SRI products have a future. “I believe SRI products will futureproof client portfolios and therefore prove superior.”

Marc Stoiber is VP Green Innovation at ad agency Maddock Douglas. He has spent nearly 20 years in advertising and design, specializing in building brands.

The Canadian Responsible Investment Conference will be held in Victoria, BC from June 20 to June 22. This year’s theme is Creating Value, Making a Difference. Marc Stoiber will speak on Monday, June 20 at 3pm on SRI Branding, What’s Working and What Isn’t.

If you're interested in blogging about this year's conference, please contact Doug Watt at

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

SRI poised for evolution, bank says

Socially responsible investing has undergone a “spectacular” transformation in recent years and is ready to move to the next level, according to a report from German commercial bank WestLB.

The 120-page report states that the SRI market continues to grow strongly in both absolute and relative terms. “Based on Eurosif numbers, we estimate that the overall [European] RI volume will increase to about 6,500 billion euros by the end of this year – which suggests that it no longer represents a niche market.”

Large institutional investors, such as corporate pensions, have taken the lead in setting RI standards, the report notes.

WestLB divides the growth of SRI in three stages, starting with ethical and/or philanthropic considerations, “basically negative screening,” and continuing with the integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment-making decisions. “A lot of advances have undoubtedly been made in this area over the last couple of years,” the report states. “The concepts and methodologies used have become smarter, the investment process more rigorous and efficient.”

The third stage, which West LB says is just beginning, is the move towards a consistent, multi-asset approach to responsible investing. “It is closely intertwined with some of the open questions regarding ESG integration and active ownership.”

“ESG integration remain the name of the game,” the report states. “Going forward, more specificity is needed with regard to questions about ‘how to do it’ and ‘how to measure added value and impact.’”

The full report is available here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

SRI Monitor Weekly News Update

Stephen Viederman Says Foundations Don’t Practice What They more

Keystone pipeline spilled tar-sands oil 11 times in past year. Do we really want to supersize it? more

Roger Martin-Making the business world all about the common more

Sharing and caring: the implications of collaborative more

California’s big utilities are mandated to look at a 10-year road map. Here’s some of what they see going more more

Compiled with the assistance of Nick Searle

Friday, May 13, 2011

Corporate Governance Milestone

Bill Davis is a long time SRI activist. Bill sent this memo to the SIO listserve, and when I read it, I though everyone should be aware of what he has managed to do. Bill agreed that we could publish his victory on SRI Monitor.

As an individual shareholder, I filed a shareholder proposal with the CIBC seeking the provision of an abstention option on the proxy ballot. At the annual meeting, held April 28, 2011 in Winnipeg, my proposal received 65.67% support from shareholders.

I do believe this is the first time in Canada that a proposal from an individual shareholder actually received a majority vote of any size, let alone a significant one.

I take this as encouraging, in that institutional shareholders obviously took the time to consider an issue and exercise their judgement, regardless of the fact that the issue had not been extensively promoted and was filed by an relatively unknown shareholder. This is a step forward for shareholder democracy.

The wording of the proposal appears in the CIBC proxy material along with my explanation. Needless to say, media covering the meeting did not notice the historic first.

To provide a brief sketch of the history leading to the filing, I offer the following.

As a shareholder, I have encountered occasions when a proposal made sense but seemed awkward to implement, or flawed in some minor way. The management's opposition appeared not to address the intent of the proposal, as much as to dismiss it. I have then abstained to send the signal that more consideration is warranted. While abstention is permissible it has not been clear how it should be done. Proxy circulars from US corporations do provide a box to facilitate abstention. In an increasingly global investment climate, I felt Canadian shareholders deserved the same clarity.

I began my effort with a question from the floor of a CIBC meeting several years ago and followed this with the same question at the AGM of Manulife Financial. After 4 years of correspondence with both corporations, I decided things would not change without engaging all shareholders through a proposal. I filed first at Manulife, for their 2010 annual meeting and they agreed to provide the abstention box, so I withdrew my proposal. Now that the will of the shareholder body is more clearly defined, I plan to be in touch with a number of corporations over the summer to expand the provision of an abstention box to facilitate those who choose to abstain.

Thank you Bill!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sustainalytics announces European expansion

ESG research firm Sustainalytics is expanding into northern Europe, today announcing the hiring of Liz Wirth as Senior Responsible Investment Advisor, Nordic Region. Wirth will be based in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“Sustainalytics has long served the financial community throughout northern Europe and Scandinavia,” says Michael Jantzi, CEO, Sustainalytics. “Liz’s presence there continues our commitment to provide clients access to global responsible investment solutions that are informed by the conditions and subtleties of the local markets. Liz’s mainstream capital markets experience, combined with her sustainability background and skill set, position her nicely to support clients who integrate environmental, social and governance factors into their investment decision-making processes and initiatives.”

Wirth was an economist and commodity price specialist for the Bank of Canada and spent nearly 10 years as a senior economist and financial strategist with the Bank of Montreal. She will be responsible for client services within the Nordic markets as well as Sustainalytics’ stock market indexes, including the STOXX Global ESG Leaders Indices, S&P/TSX Clean Technology Index and the Jantzi Social Index.

“The Nordic countries are leaders in responsible investment, each with their own signature,” said Wirth in a news release. “I am pleased to be working with investors in the different regions to leverage our global research and expertise to meet their responsible investment objectives.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Volunteer bloggers wanted for SIO conference

SRI Monitor is looking for volunteer bloggers to write previews and on-site articles about this year’s Social Investment Organization conference, to be held in Victoria from June 20-22.

The theme of this year’s conference is Creating Value, Making a Difference. Topics up for discussion include SRI branding, the future of energy in Canada, renewable energy investment, the Alberta oil sands, corporate governance, conflict minerals and new technology as well as impact investing.

Guest speakers and panelists include Hazel Henderson, Stephen Griggs, Robert Bateman, Bob Monks, Gord Lambert, Nancy McHarg and Bob Walker.

The idea is simple – pick a speaker or a session you'd like to write about and produce a short article (250-400 words). Don't have much writing experience? Not to worry, we'll give you some basic training and walk you through the process. Video blogs are also welcome.

The articles will be published before and during the conference, and distributed on SRI Monitor, the SIO's e-mail Listserve and the SIO website.

This is the second year SRI Monitor and the SIO have worked together on conference-related social media. In 2010, SRI Monitor posted eight pre-conferences articles and ten articles during the conference itself. We also collaborated on a conference-focused twitter feed.

If you'd like to take part as a blogger or if you are interested in distributing the content on your website, please contact social media coordinator Doug Watt at

Monday, May 9, 2011

SRI Monitor Weekly News Update

Investment Managers Pushing Companies to go more

Social and Environmental Shareholder Resolutions Gain more

Assessing Companies’ ESG more

Social Responsibility a Low Priority for Canadian more

Companies Must Court Stakeholders to Accelerate more

Climate legislation advances in 16 major more

LinkedIn IPO to List on NYSE: Big Win for Big more

Compiled with the assistance of Nick Searle

Thursday, May 5, 2011

SRI assets hold steady

Socially responsible assets in Canada dropped marginally to $531 billion as of June 30, 2010, compared with $579 billion in 2008, according to the biennial SRI review, released today by the Social Investment Organization. However, SRI still represents about one-fifth of total Canadian assets under management, about the same level as 2008.

“SRI has held steady, showing resilience in the face of the unprecedented turmoil in the capital markets brought about by the credit crisis of 2008,” the survey notes. “SRI continues to gain traction as a reliable mainstream tool for value enhancement, risk management and the realization of social and environmental goals.”

“I think the numbers are encouraging,” said SIO executive director Eugene Ellmen in an interview. “The assets are down somewhat, but the overall market share is about the same, about 20%. Where the significant decline in the numbers came was on the pension fund side, and that’s purely a result of the market declines in 2008.”

“We’ve maintained our market share through the decline, markets have come back nicely in 2011 and I think that SRI is poised for growth in the future.”

Assets managed by pension funds make up the bulk of SRI assets in Canada at $453 billion, about 85% of the total. That’s a drop from $513 billion in 2008.

The survey notes that Canada’s major, publicly-managed pension funds – such as the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, OMERS and OPSEU Pension Trust – have been early adopters of responsible investment strategies.

SRI retail funds managed on behalf of individual clients gained some ground, rising to $25 billion compared with $22 billion in 2008. SRI mutual funds make up about half the total in this category, at $12.4 billion. Retail funds represent about 5% of total SRI assets in Canada.

“SRI mutual funds have had some challenges over the last couple of years, but they have bounced back nicely in 2011, and I think they are poised to grow as advisors learn more about socially responsible investment,” Ellmen says.

Renewable energy income trusts, which invest in a pool of investments focused on the production of clean energy, have grown to nearly $13 billion. There are some fundamental reasons for that, Ellmen explains, such as such as the rising price of oil, which has created opportunities in other forms of renewable energy. At the same time, there have been some key policy changes, such as the Feed-in Tariff program under the Ontario Energy Act.

Impact investments, such as community loan funds and social venture capital, represent $4.5 billion, or about 0.8% of total SRI numbers. It’s a small, but fast-growing segment of SRI, the report notes.

“I think impact investing has quite an exciting future because local communities are looking for ways to use investment capital to improve their economies and to create opportunities for disadvantaged people”, Ellmen says. “Social finance is growing tremendously as an alternative to traditional ways of funding non profit organizations and social services. There’s a lot of attention in this area.”

The review also found that asset management firms investing funds under SRI mandates grew to $46 billion, about 9% of the total.

Click here to access the full SRI Review.

This story was originally published on

Monday, May 2, 2011

SRI Monitor Weekly News Update

Not so much news this week, lots of good background pieces.

Why GE, Coca-Cola, and IBM Are Getting Into the Water Business…read more

Suncor fined for breaking water plan conditions…read more

A star Silicon Valley investor puts his money where his mouth is for sustainable ag…read more

Cadbury's embracing of ethically-made chocolate has changed the market…read more

Aperio group introduces the first animal rights portfolio designed to track the broad us equity market…read more

and watch
China Weighs Environmental Concerns Against Economic Growth

Compiled with the assistance of Nick Searle