During 2012 the Ethical Council conducted dialogues on various aspects of environmental and social responsibility with a total of 118 companies worldwide. The Ethical Council’s external consultant held discussions with a further 102 companies on the Ethical Council’s behalf. The Ethical Council increasingly takes a preventive approach to encourage companies to act more responsibly and avert the risk of non-compliance with international conventions. Focus areas in 2012 included human rights, business ethics and environmental issues in the extractive, tobacco and cocoa industries. The Ethical Council has seen many examples where dialogue can be an effective tool to influence companies towards sustainable stewardship.
“The Ethical Council’s extractive industries project clearly shows that preventive initiatives are an effective way to exert influence,” said Christina Hillesöy, Chairwoman of the Ethical Council.
“By highlighting strengths and weaknesses in corporate sustainability strategies, we have in multiple cases been able to drive change in areas where we have identified shortcomings. That is exactly what preventive measures can achieve: making a difference and encouraging companies in which the AP funds invest to move towards more responsible stewardship.”
In 2012, two of the companies on the dialogue list – Rio Tinto and Goldcorp – took action in accordance with the Ethical Council’s demands and met our initial objectives. Rio Tinto adopted a policy stating that riverine and shallow marine disposal of mining waste must be avoided at new mines. With regard to Goldcorp, the Ethical Council joined with a group of Canadian investors to demand that the company respect human rights in current and future projects. Goldcorp responded by commissioning an independent human rights impact assessment and subsequently implemented an action plan to address identified deficiencies.
Christina Hillesöy said: “The dialogue with Goldcorp is a prime example of how we can work with other stakeholder groups to spur companies to move in a positive direction. The discussions with Goldcorp have been constructive and the company has now implemented a range of measures. The company itself says that the dialogue has resulted in decisive changes in its Guatemalan operations and has helped to shape its work on sustainable stewardship. Goldcorp has also told us it has received inquiries from other mining companies keen to learn from its experiences.”
For further information, please contact:
Christina Hillesöy, Ethical Council Chairwoman for 2013
Tel: +46 8555 17 123
About the Ethical Council: The First, Second, Third and Fourth Swedish National Pension (AP1, AP2, AP3 and AP)coordinate their work on environmental and social responsibility via the Ethical Council. The Ethical Council is the funds’ joint platform for driving positive change in foreign companies implicated in non-compliance with international environmental and human rights conventions. Combining a preventive and reactive approach, the Ethical Council works to make a difference in the field of environmental and socially responsible stewardship. Preventive initiatives include actions to ensure that companies in which the funds invest operate in accordance with relevant ethical, social and environmental standards and have policies and operating and monitoring systems in place to enable responsible stewardship. Reactive measures include engaging in dialogue with companies that violate international conventions to encourage them to comply with those conventions and to take action to avoid any future non-compliance.