24. Investors and regulators shall compel all businesses to comply with the U.N. Global Compact.

Read Article | Comments

I. Corporate Responsibility and the Connection to Existential Threats

Rapporteur: Robin Collins

There are many debates around the kind of economy the globe needs to best service a growing population of seven billion people in over 190 countries, with a wide range of talents, cultures, laws and levels of democracy. This plank is not intended to solve the problem of economic systems. Rather it collects some of the levers at hand (international and national investors and regulators) and points to some of the institutional and legal mechanisms they can draw upon to compel businesses to meet necessary human rights and climate standards. Many will, as they must, reference international Conventions and the SDG framework, because these are the agreeable tools the international community has agreed to. This short piece is not intended to be a comprehensive outline of measures or mechanisms, but it offers some examples of progress and required attention in the areas of the UN Global Compact, the International Labour Organization, Fair Trade, and Shareholder/Investor Activism and Ethical Investment practices.

The United Nations Global Compact

The UN Global Compact was created in 2006 to “mobilize a global movement of sustainable companies and stakeholders to create the world we want”. It is funded by The Foundation for the Global Compact, a U.S.-based non-profit organization, incorporated in New York State, that was established to financially support the GC through fundraising (from the global business community and broader private sector) and promotion of its Ten Principles (see below). The philosophy of the UNGC is that public-private collaboration will resolve “pressing global problems”. The achievement of this mission the GC, which is now made up of […], promotes doing business responsibly “by aligning strategies and operations with Ten Principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption; and taking strategic actions to advance broader societal goals, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with an emphasis on collaboration and innovation.
All ten of the Ten Principles are sourced from existing international agreements, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ILO’s labour rights principles, the Rio Declaration and the UN Convention Against Corruption.

Read more

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Do Nuclear Weapons Profits Count Too?

comment image

Nuclear weapons are truly the most idiotic thing to spend money on, throwing money out in space would be a better use. How infuriating!

But somehow the Global Compact does not specifically mention nuclear weapons as a type of investment that responsible businesses should reject. The ten principles that the Compact proposes are excellent but should be more explicit in outlawing the trade in weapons (especially nuclear) and fossil fuels. Do you agree?
comment image

Last edited 19 days ago by Cameron

Couldn’t agree more; all current nuclear weapons MUST be safely deconstructed, and ALL countries need to agree to not make them anymore.

The arms race post-WWII led to this. There is big money to be made from manufacturing weapons, especially since a government contract was such a lucrative and reliable source of revenue. I just hope that arms race doesn’t lead to our demise.

What Russia’s $300B Investment In Arctic Oil And Gas Means For Canada

comment image

CBC published an interesting article on 15 February 2020 about the Canadian impacts of Russia’s $300 billion investment in the Arctic – specifically within the realm of gas and oil. These investments would encourage development of and increased traffic in Northern sea routes. What impacts these activities will have on locals – including Indigenous (Chukchi, Nenets, etc.) peoples? Gas and oil drilling in this ecologically sensitive region may result in long-term, environmental damage.

Moreover, the Soviet Union formerly used the Barents Sea, Kara Sea, and areas around Novaya Zemlya as a nuclear waste dump. These areas abut and/or intersect the Northern Sea Route. Some of these $300 billion in investments could go towards cleaning up these sites. Several gas and oil companies proposed drilling the Kara Sea due to its large gas and oil reserves – but shifted plans about 5 years ago.

Environmental groups – indicated concern of drilling activities in close proximity to a nuclear waste dump. In recent years, Russia additionally has developed floating nuclear reactors which can be moved along the Northern Sea Route to supply power to remote regions – with a particular focus on resource extraction activities.

Article by John Last (CBC News, 15 February 2020)

“Last month, the Russian government pushed through new legislation creating $300 billion in new incentives for new ports, factories, and oil and gas developments on the shores and in the waters of the Arctic ocean.
Read more

comment image

Last edited 19 days ago by Cameron

New York City Plans To Divest From Nuclear Weapons!

comment image

In January 2018, New York City decided to divest the city’s $189bn pension funds from fossil fuel companies within the next five years. Now the city looks set to also divest from the nuclear weapons industry.

The Council held public hearings on draft Resolution 0976 which calls on New York City to support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and divest from the nuclear weapons industry, and on Initiative 1621 to reaffirm New York City as a nuclear weapons-free zone and establish an advisory committee to implement this status.

Read more

Banks promise not to spend $47 on fossil fuels

comment image

Under pressure from investors, regulators, and climate activists, 130 big banks have acknowledged the role lenders will need to play in a rapid transition to a low-carbon economy. In September 2019 the banks, which include Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, and Barclays, adopted UN policies and agreed to shift their assets of $47 trillion away from fossil fuel loans. This change aligns their lending practices to the UN Global Compact, which requires that businesses protect the environment. The Compact does not specifically mention climate change as an issue, but any reading of the term “environment” would surely cover restrictions on loans to companies exploiting fossil fuels.

That’s great news. How do you suppose it came about? Did someone go lobby them or did some of the bank executives see the light themselves?

Corporate Social Responsibility Society (CSRS)

Facebook has lots of interesting groups, and I’ve just discovered one that is apparently based at York University’s Schulich School of Business. Check out their Facebook page if you live in Toronto, especially if you’re a student at York U or any other business faculty. They seem to have lots of activities during the academic year.

Are Lockheed Martin’s Nuclear Weapons Fueling Your Retirement?

BY TOBY A.A. HEAPS July 25, 2019 in Corporate Knights
Think you’re not invested in this weapons maker? Canada Pension Plan, Ontario teachers among those banking on nukes.

Read more

New Bill Aims to Compel Companies to Disclose Climate Risks to SEC

July 17, 2019 | By Karen Savage

A bill that would require public companies to disclose the risks posed to their business by climate change passed a crucial committee vote in the House on Wednesday. The House Financial Services Committee passed the Climate Risk Disclosure Act of 2019, which was introduced by Illinois Rep. Sean Casten in 2018. The bill would require the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to develop and implement guidelines for companies on disclosing climate risks. The SEC would be required to make the information available to the public on its website.

Read more

These Major Banks are the Biggest Investors in Fossil Fuel Projects

(From Sum of Us)

A major report released today has found that three of Canada’s largest banks, Scotiabank, TD, and RBC, are amongst the top ten banks in the world funding climate change.

The effects of climate chaos will be far worse than previously predicted. To keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees, by the year 2030, just over a decade away, governments and corporations will need to make drastic changes to reduce carbon emissions to 45% of 2010 levels. Despite the immense scope and magnitude of the climate crisis, these three Canadian banks continue to pour billions of dollars into fossil fuels — even after the Paris Accord was signed.

But it doesn’t have to be this way — these banks could fund clean, green energy projects instead, and stop bankrolling projects that endanger our future. It’s time for TD, Scotiabank and RBC to phase out funding in fossil fuels, and ensure that the rise in global temperature does not exceed 1.5 degrees!

Read more

Now here’s a proposal that should be considered as part of this plank: Create public banks. These would be stronger than credit unions, but accountable in a democratic way, and oriented toward the public good.

Read more

comment image

Secretary General Kofi Annan had his own way of dealing with corporate giants. He allocated a portion of his office to setting up a Global Compact, which would supposedly tame the bad actors. He never said whether he felt he had achieved his goal. Certainly the Global Compact has influenced capitalist business practices to some degree, though it is entirely voluntary and not especially well-known. There is no official mechanism for enforcement, or even shaming firms that do not accept its ten (rather vague) principles. We need a much stronger instrument. Yet the organization does function. The photo shows its CEO, Lisa Kingo, in a meeting with business executives.