In addition to seeking dialogue with individual companies, Triodos Research also regularly works together with other investors to further steer sustainable performance. Triodos Research has a number of partnerships that facilitate and encourage such collaborative engagement.
In 2015, a joint investor letter was sent on behalf of Actiam, Robeco, MN Services and Triodos Investment Management, to 17 leading automobile manufacturers, including BMW, Honda Motor, PSA, Renault, Tesla, Toyota and Volkswagen. The letter was based on the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Automobiles industry report (‘No room for passengers’ CDP 2015) and discusses the highlights of this report and areas for improvement. The letter calls upon companies to prepare for current and future regulatory requirements on fleet emission reductions, to demonstrate strategic leadership for R&D and advanced vehicles and to disclose targets and progress to achieve emissions reductions within manufacturing operations and supply chains. A followup call took place with BMW, Tesla and Honda Motor.
In 2015 Triodos Investment Management co-signed a number of collaborative initiatives organized by members of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). These include:
- Access to medicine index: the availability of medicines for people in developing countries improves the lives of many. The medicine index provides a credible, transparent and independent tool, to assess a company’s performance in this area. The investor statement seeks assurance that companies fully consider the risks and opportunities of this important issue, and have effective policies and processes for dealing with the challenges.
- Support for clinical trial transparency: this statement calls upon companies to register all trials on inception, publish an objective summary of trial results, publish full details of the methods used and to make data at the individual patient level available. Results of clinical trials generally determine whether or not a drug is marketed. Results from around half of all clinical trials ever conducted have not been published. Moreover, trials with negative results are twice as likely to remain unreported as those with positive results, and industry funded trials that have been published are much more likely than independently funded trials to show positive results. This has substantial financial and reputational implications for pharmaceutical companies. Moreover, it has led to patients dying or being harmed by taking drugs approved on the basis of biased and incomplete information and unnecessary costs being incurred by health services.
- UNPRI Human Rights statement: This initiative encourages companies to use the Human Rights Framework to proactively assess and manage their human rights risks, demonstrate how they meet their responsibility to respect human rights and support long-term financial stability.
- Corporate Climate Lobbying: This initiative raises concerns about companies engaging with policy makers directly or indirectly on climate change-related issues and calls upon companies to carefully assess if this engagement is aligned with the company’s position on climate change, to act in situations where policy engagement is not aligned and to publicly report on its position and practices with regard to climate change lobbying activities.
- Encouraging Increased Water Risk Disclosure in the Food Sector: This initiative sent a letter to low scoring companies in the food sector, asking these companies to improve their water risk disclosure practices through reporting to the 2016 CDP Water Questionnaire. This effort is being undertaken in collaboration with members of the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) and PRI.
- Triodos Investment Management joined the initiative for the third Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW). This benchmark is designed to help drive higher farm animal welfare standards in the world’s leading food businesses. The third Benchmark report, launched in February 2015, evaluated 80 global food companies on their policies, governance, management processes and reporting on farm animal welfare. In the second half of 2015, 10 well-performing companies have been commended and other companies, specifically the poorest performers, have been encouraged to improve their farm animal welfare policies, practices and reporting. Triodos Research commits to raising questions about company performance in the Benchmark as part of our routine engagement with these companies. This initiative fits our own engagement efforts on factory farming. You can find more information about this subject in the section ‘Individual dialogue’.
Furthermore Triodos Investment Management continued its support to a number of collaborative initiatives organized by members of the United Principles for Responsible Investment that we signed prior to 2015. These include:
- Sustainable Stock Exchange initiative: This collaborative engagement initiative was launched in 2008. It aims to encourage stock exchanges to consider how to improve the quality of sustainability reporting by the companies that list on their exchange. In support of this initiative, a group of PRI signatories sent letters to the top 30 stock exchanges on 31 January 2011.
- Bangladesh: This investor initiative was launched as a result of the tragic building collapse at Rana Plaza in April of 2013 that killed 1,138 garment workers and injured over 2,000 others. The initiative called on companies to join the multi-stakeholder Accord on Fire and Building Safety. In 2015, letters were sent calling upon companies to donate to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund. The Fund was established to financially support the victims and their families. Despite voluntary commitments made by companies, two years after the accident, the Fund still lacked financial support. As a result of this additional investor letter, the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund reached its goal of USD 30 million in June 2015. H&M, VF Corporation and Inditex all contributed to the relief fund.
- Responsible Palm Oil: This investor initiative started in 2013 and focuses on improving the sustainability of the palm oil value chain. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil plays an important role in promoting sustainability in the palm oil sector. To ensure that the RSPO remains relevant as expectations for sustainable palm oil sourcing evolve, and that the platform better reflects the commitments of its members, a new 2015 investor statement called on the RSPO to conduct an accelerated review of the Principles & Criteria and related documents and to improve transparency, auditing and enforcement among member companies.
- Access to Nutrition Index (ATNI): this initiative started in 2013. It calls on food and beverages companies to provide information about their policies, practices and performance regarding nutrition. Whenever possible and relevant Triodos Research will refer to this index when meeting the companies in which we invest.