The Royal Commission Report: a new path for the Australian finance industry?

On Monday 4 February, the final report from the Royal Commission inquiry into misconduct in the Australian financial sector was published. It contained a scathing review of years of misconduct and of the failures by regulators to appropriately supervise and hold companies accountable. The report also provided 76 recommendations to fix these issues.

Companies Invest to Extend their Life of Mines

In December 2018, an investor trip was organised to see the operations of Vedanta’s Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) and Glencore’s Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) located in the Copperbelt of Zambia. We’ve been engaging with Vedanta and Glencore for several years as the companies have experienced several ESG issues in their histories. As part of our engagement process, we conduct in-person visits to gain a better understanding of what’s happening on the ground. During this trip we saw how investment can extend the life of mines and continue to support the local communities. In this article I’ll discuss the importance of stakeholder and government relations as these companies make major investments to improve and extend their operations in the country.

The True Cost of Tomatoes: Insights from our Supply Chain Engagement Trip

In late 2019, Sustainalytics traveled to Italy as part of our Stewardship and Risk Food Supply Chain Engagement. We embarked on this trip with a group of investors and Nestlé to gain an understanding of the working conditions in the tomato sector. The goal of this engagement program is to address risks of child labor in the targeted companies’ supply chains as well as remediate potential adverse labor rights impacts.

Value-Based healthcare: are companies embracing the change?

National healthcare budgets are steadily growing worldwide. Increasing budget pressure, ageing populations and the rise of chronic diseases[i] are pushing both developed and developing markets to look for more effective healthcare delivery methods. In the United States, where national health expenditures peaked at USD 3.5 trillion in 2017, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) projected the healthcare budget will increase at an average annual rate of 5.5% in the next decade.[ii] [iii] In the United Kingdom, around 70% of healthcare spending goes to the treatment of chronic conditions.[iv] As governments and healthcare providers examine ways to contain healthcare costs without sacrificing quality of the service, value-based healthcare (VBHC) has emerged as a potential solution to create a more affordable, efficient and inclusive healthcare system.

Implications of Consolidation in the Pharma and Biotech Sector

Increasing consolidation within the pharma and biotech industry has triggered questions about the ultimate impact on the industry, as well as on its stakeholders. With increased competition from generic manufacturers and rising drug development costs, several pharmaceutical companies have engaged in M&A as a defensive strategy to offset losses in market share and gain cost savings. While M&As are typically scrutinized by authorities for harming competition, another question has emerged: does consolidation harm innovation and ultimately the industry’s capacity to develop lifesaving drugs?

Celebrating 70 years of human rights – a role to play by investors

This blog originally appeared on GES International’s website and has been republished following Sustainaltyics’ acquisition of the company on 9 January 2019. See the press release for more information.

Sexual harassment – an emerging risk

This blog originally appeared on GES International’s website and has been republished following Sustainaltyics’ acquisition of the company on 9 January 2019. See the press release for more information.

Cyber Security and Data Privacy: The Downsides of the Network Effect

As investors assess their portfolios and develop engagement approaches, considering data privacy and security risks alongside traditional fundamental factors may be necessary to develop a fuller understanding of the risks facing a company’s enterprise value. In many cases, these risks may fly under the radar until there is a systemic failure, at which point it may already be too late to effectively mitigate the fallout.

A hope for stability in South Africa

During GES’ recent Emerging Markets Engagement trip to South Africa, we held several meetings with mining companies and, for the first time, with the South African government’s Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and the Minerals Council South Africa, the mining industry’s trade body.

Social Media Regulation: Latest developments and future trends

The internet’s burning issues have taken center stage, as regulators globally push for a crackdown on social media. In the wake of the 2016 US presidential election, tech companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google were criticized for having allegedly permitted the propagation of so-called “fake news” on their platforms.

How Prepared are Australian Companies for the Modern Slavery Act?

Australia is being scrutinized for lagging on climate action and for a string of scandals in its financial sector, but the country will soon be a leader in fighting human rights abuses and modern slavery practices, as it is set to become one of few countries in the world to adopt a historic Modern Slavery Act (MSA).

Why 23 August 1791 is still relevant today

This blog originally appeared on GES International’s website and has been republished following Sustainaltyics’ acquisition of the company on 9 January 2019. See the press release for more information.

Net Neutrality: Caught in a web of lobbying and regulatory uncertainty

In June 2018, the US Federal Communications Commission repealed the network neutrality rules (Open Internet Order) that required Internet Service Providers (ISPs)[1] to treat all content on the internet equally, and to not discriminate based on any characteristic, such as who owns or created the content.[2] Specifically, ISPs were not allowed to block, slow or give preferential treatment to certain content. In this blog, we explore the implications of this repeal to users and investors, particularly in light of the recently announced mergers between distributors and content creators in the US.

Industry expert Jon Hale shares his views on attempts to discredit sustainable investing

In a new Medium article highly worth the read, Jon Hale, Global Head, Sustainable Investing Research at Morningstar, writes about recent misleading attacks on the credibility of ESG assessments and sustainable investing. He takes aim at a critical report from The American Council for Capital Formation, a Washington D.C. policy group financed by the National Association of Manufacturers, the fossil fuels industry and various other corporate lobbying organizations.

First strikes against ‘killer robots’

This blog originally appeared on GES International’s website and has been republished following Sustainaltyics’ acquisition of the company on 9 January 2019. See the press release for more information.

Antimicrobial Resistance: A life-threatening issue

Since their introduction, antibiotics have saved millions of lives by reducing complications and mortality associated with infectious diseases. However, widespread use of antimicrobial drugs is also closely associated with an increase of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). As the makers of these drugs, pharmaceutical companies can play a big role in battling AMR. Without their efforts, the prospects for successfully combating the issue are dim.

Migrant Detention at US Borders: What investors need to know

Over a five-week period in May and June 2018, 2,342 immigrant children were forcibly separated from their families at detention centers along US borders[1]. This was the result of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy of referring for criminal prosecution people who cross the border illegally, including asylum seekers. This policy and the resulting family separation have been criticized as unconscionable and damaging by the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, as well as by the American Association of Pediatrics.

Celebrating a diversity of approaches to sustainable investing

I recently traveled from the US to Europe to learn about the major market differences in sustainable investing. For context, investors long rooted in sustainable investing practices have viewed the general US market as lagging compared to Europe. As it pertains to values-based investing, I agree. However, the US has embraced ESG integration in a very sophisticated and pioneering way as it relates to risk mitigation.

Revisiting ESG in China: Has company performance improved?

China’s growing economic power, continuous reforms and liberalizations have made it increasingly important to global capital markets. In 2017, MSCI announced it would add around 230 “A-Shares” to its Emerging Markets and All Country World Index indices in June and September 2018. Due to the large amount of passive-strategy funds worldwide, it is estimated that a total of USD 20 billion, and as much as USD 300 billion at full inclusion, will flow into A-Shares market.

GDPR and the Right to Privacy

On May 25, 2018, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will enter into force, repealing the 1995 non-legally binding European Union (EU) Data Protection Directive. GDPR enhances European citizens’ right to privacy by enshrining the “right to be forgotten,” establishing concepts like “privacy by design” and by setting aggressive timelines for businesses to report data breaches.