Stewardship Roundup: Tailings Dam Update, Asset Manager Priorities | News


The £3.5bn (€4bn) Church of England Pensions Board (CEPB) will vote against the chairmen of the boards of beneficiary companies who have not confirmed their intention to implement new best practices in tailings dam management.

CEPB established and leads the coalition of 100 investors who form the Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative, which followed the fatal collapse of a mining waste management facility (tailings dam) at a mine site in Vale in Brazil in 2019, known as the Brumadino Disaster.

The pension fund announced today that 79 companies have committed to implementing a new global industry standard on tailings management or are assessing their alignment with it, while 183 have yet to confirm whether they will implement it.

Adam Matthews, director of responsible investments at CEPB and chairman of the Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative, said any company that “opposes the standard will face intense scrutiny from investors.”

He said shareholder resolutions were a possibility.

CEPB also announced today that John Howchin, former Secretary General of the Swedish AP Fund Ethics Council, will become the Global Ambassador for the Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative to work with investors, mining companies and wider stakeholders in the creation of an independent Global Institute for Tailings Management.

The Institute is to become operational this year to support the implementation of the Standard by companies.

LAPFF concerns persist on third anniversary of Brumadinho disaster

The Local Authorities Pension Funds Forum (LAPFF) said today it continued to hear stories of loss, devastation and insufficient reparations from affected community members in Brumadinho, as the mining disaster reaches its third anniversary.

Over the past three years, LAPFF has engaged with Vale and BHP – the mining companies involved – following the collapse of the Brumadinho and Samarco dams and continues to be “appalled by the lack of progress to address to the needs of affected community members,” he said.

LAPFF President Doug McMurdo said, “How do we repair and compensate for the loss of 272 people? It is simply not possible. We continue to hear from affected parties in Brazil that the next dam collapse is only a matter of time. Haven’t people suffered enough? The authorities and companies concerned must intervene as soon as possible and prevent these completely unacceptable events.

Aviva and BMO will review biodiversity efforts

Aviva Investors and BMO Global Asset Management, now part of Columbia Threadneedle, both said they would review companies’ efforts on biodiversity, among other environmental issues, this year.

In his annual letter to company presidents, Mark Versey, chief executive of Aviva Investors, identified biodiversity as one of “four key stewardship priorities that will shape our voting and engagement activities” in 2022, at alongside climate change, human rights and executive compensation. .

“We want to encourage companies to look at the bigger picture of sustainability because that’s how they’ll create the best return for shareholders, while helping to build a better future for society,” he said. .

“Companies now need to turn their promises into concrete, measurable delivery plans.”

One of the specific points raised in his letter was that companies should voluntarily report, “as soon as possible”, against the prototype climate-related disclosure developed for the new International Sustainability Standards Council.

BMO’s engagement priorities for 2022 are similar to what Aviva’s Versey identified in his letter, namely climate change and biodiversity, chemical industry, human rights and ESG risk metrics in executive compensation.

Biodiversity was already a priority area highlighted by BMO last year. He said he would step up engagement with companies in the most critical sectors, including food and beverage, extractive industries, materials, transport and finance.

“It can take time to build consensus for change within a business and to develop the tools to achieve it,” said Claudia Wearmouth, Co-Chief Investment Officer of BMO GAM EMEA.

“We support companies on this journey, but in 2022 a key focus of our work will also be to hold companies accountable to their commitments.”

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