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Watch a Video of Fr. Séamus Finn Speaking on Faith-based Investing in Sustainability August 24th, 2016

Fr. Séamus Finn OMI, Chief of Faith Consistent Investment, OIP Investment Trust & Chair, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility recently spoke on Faith based Investing in Sustainability at an event hosted at the International Finance Corporation.


Asia’s Largest Agribusiness Company Adopts Policy to Protect Forests and Communities December 6th, 2013

Wilmar, Asia’s largest agribusiness company, commits to No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation, No High Carbon Stock, Traceable Sourcing Policy for both its own plantations and third party suppliers.
 
Photo courtesy of Greenpeace

Photo courtesy of Greenpeace

Wilmar, Asia’s largest agribusiness company, which controls 45 percent of the global palm oil trade, has issued a new policy to protect forests, respect human rights, and enhance community livelihood. The company joined consumer products’  leader Unilever, in committing to a “No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation, No High Carbon Stock, Traceable Sourcing Policy” for both its own plantations and third party suppliers. NGOs working on the issue, led by Climate Advisers and The Forest Trust (TFT), say the initiative has the potential to dramatically cut deforestation and climate pollution, while boosting prosperity.

This policy follows a decade of aggressive and effective advocacy for sustainable and responsible palm oil by nonprofit organizations around the world. Recently, activist shareholders concerned about sustainability issues, including the Missionary Oblates, sent letters asking for policy changes to to 40 major palm oil producers, financiers and consumers including Wilmar, Golden Agri Resources, Unilever, and HSBC. The letters were coordinated by Green Century Capital Management and were signed by major institutional investors from the U.S. and Europe representing approximately $270 billion in assets under management.

The announcement represents a vital new approach for Wilmar International, which in addition to its importance in the palm oil trade, is a significant player in other commodities like sugar and soybeans. The announcement sets a responsible path forward for one of the most environmentally intensive commodities on earth.

Wilmar’s policy on palm oil is available online here.

The policy includes numerous provisions to change the way commodities are sourced:

  • No Deforestation: No more cutting down the rainforest for agricultural production.
  • No Exploitation: Protect the rights of workers and communities, including the right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent.
  • Protects High Carbon Stock landscape, including peatlands of any depth.
  • Protects High Conservation Value forests: No more clearing of forests that are habitat for endangered species, such as orangutans, Sumatran tigers, elephants, and rhinos.

Palm oil is a $50 billion a year commodity that makes its way into half of all consumer goods on the shelves. It is in chocolate, baked goods, soaps, detergents, and much more. U.S. imports have increased almost fivefold over the past decade. 85 percent of palm oil is grown on industrial plantations in Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, home of some of the largest remaining rainforests in the world. Clearing tropical forests for these plantations threatens the world’s last Sumatran tigers, as well as orangutans, elephants, rhinos and the tens of millions of people who depend on these rainforests to survive. Because of deforestation, Indonesia is the third largest emitter of global warming pollution in the world, behind only China and the United States.


Newsweek Green Rankings Companies Improve Environmental Transparency October 30th, 2012

The fourth annual Newsweek Green Rankings has found that 20% more of the world’s largest companies reported on their environmental performance in 2012, compared to 2011. The Newsweek Green Rankings aims to “cut through the green chatter and compare the actual environmental footprints, management (policies, programs, initiatives, controversies), and reporting practices” of the 500 largest publicly traded companies in the world. This is good progress; although the report also says more is needed to address the serious resource and sustainability issues facing us.

Global companies are becoming more transparent on their environmental performance, recognizing the risks inherent in a failure to attend to issues such as water and energy. Over 85% of companies in Newsweek’s Green Rankings now disclose some level of detail on their environmental information, representing a 20% improvement on the previous year.

Activist investors, like the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, engage corporations on sustainability issues and regularly encourage companies to report with mechanisms such as the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative), and the Carbon Disclosure Project on carbon and now water.

Newsweek partners with Trucost and Sustainalytics to engage companies in measuring and disclosing environmental performance as an essential first step towards improving it. The Oblates also use Sustainalytics to analyze their portfolio, and provide research guidance for engaging companies.

For more information see Newsweek Green Rankings on The Daily Beast


Watch: Fixing the Future! July 25th, 2012

The Oblate-sponsored Community Supported Garden at La Vista is a good example of the community based economic alternative highlighted in Fixing the Future.

Fixing the Future is both a film and a project to help communities across America become aware of the sustainable, community-based economic alternatives developing everywhere in the US.

Host David Brancaccio, of public radio’s Marketplace and NOW on PBS, has traveled across the country to visit people and organizations that are attempting a revolution: the reinvention of the American economy. The film features communities using sustainable and innovative approaches to create jobs and build prosperity. Fixing the Future highlights effective, local practices such as: local business alliances, community banking, time banking/hour exchange, worker cooperatives and local currencies.

Find a showing in your area…

Watch the trailer…

More information….


A Visit to Mongu, Zambia November 29th, 2011

Early November, JPIC Office colleague Kate Walsh, who works with the TRI-State Coalition for Responsible Investment (CRI) in New Jersey, visited Oblates working in Zambia. She writes about her reflection on the trip and experience in Zambia:

Two weeks ago, I traveled to Zambia to speak at conference co-sponsored by Catholic Relief Services and CAFOD on Extractives in Southern African. My task was to speak about ICCR’s work and run a session on Shareholder Advocacy. However, I had a few days to explore the region, visit, before the conference began.

That first weekend, I went to Mongu in the Western Region. This is the poorest region of the country. After a 7-hour bus ride from the capital, I arrived and went to visit the Diocese of Mongu Development Centre (DMDC).

Click here to read more »


Wal-Mart to Measure Sustainability of its Products July 18th, 2009

walmart_exteriorWal-Mart is known for its rock-bottom prices, but customers soon will also be able to choose what products to buy on the basis of their social and environmental impacts – or at least that is the idea, according to the company.  Wal-Mart announced today that it is launching a Sustainability Index – an electronic indexing system that will provide information about a product’s carbon footprint, the gallons of water used to create it, the air pollution left in its wake and social impacts related to production.

The company has recruited scholars, suppliers, and environmental groups to help it create the index – a universal rating system that scores products based on how environmentally and socially sustainable they are over the course of their lives. The goal is to have other retailers adopt the indexing system, which will be created over the next five years.

Click here to read more »

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