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.

Risk Exposure in a Changing Climate: The Story of PG&E

The destructive California wildfires in November 2018 once again focused investor attention on climate-change related risks. PG&E, the largest utility in the United States, has stated the fires were very likely caused by its equipment. The company has since announced it will file for bankruptcy protection at the end of January in what is being called the highest profile climate-change bankruptcy to date. The company’s expected liabilities from the devastating wildfires in 2017 and 2018 are estimated at over USD 30 billion and the company’s share price has dropped by over 90% since before the 2017 fire. It is currently unclear what would happen in the event of PG&E filing for bankruptcy protection, but state legislators have mentioned the possibility of breaking up the utility, selling off assets, or converting it to a publicly-owned company.

Redefining the purpose of a corporation – theory or practice?

In August 2019, the U.S. Business Roundtable (BRT), a non-profit association composed of corporate CEOs, issued a statement redefining the purpose of a corporation. The BRT has defined a corporation’s purpose as working for the benefit of all stakeholders, such as customers, employees, suppliers, communities where the company operates, as well as shareholders. Drafted following months of consultation with CEOs and members of the political, academic and NGO sectors, the statement was signed by 181 CEOs, or 95% of BRT members (though not by the companies they represent).

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?

COP24 in Katowice up close

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.

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

Today, exactly 70 years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – a unique milestone in human history, defining our universal rights for the first time.

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.

Searching for Solutions to Ocean Plastics

Over the past year, the public, regulators and investors have expressed growing concerns about the problem of ocean plastics. While some organizations have pledged to address the issue, our analysis of 4,575 companies in the sectors that generate most of the plastic waste on the planet reveals that less than 1% of these firms mention the phrase “ocean plastic” or “ocean health” in relevant corporate documents. This finding suggests a low level of strategic awareness about ocean plastics among companies exposed to the issue despite clear interest among consumers, law-makers and investors.

Palm Oil and Deforestation: a missed window of opportunity for the RSPO?

In August 2018, 90 institutional investors representing USD 6.7 trillion in assets sent a letter to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) expressing their concern over deforestation and the disconnect between leading corporate policy commitments and the RSPO standards.

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).

Shareconomy – a path to sustainability

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.

Whistleblower Protections in Europe: Considerations for Investors

All organizations have hidden vulnerabilities. Whistleblowing exposes fraud and other financial crimes, thereby giving society an opportunity to act against misbehaviour. Globally, whistleblowers have helped save lives, recover billions of dollars, and protect the environment and local communities.

IPCC Releases Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC

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.

Smart Beta ESG - The Next Big Thing in Asset Management?

Smart beta is all the rage these days. According to data from Morningstar, global assets under management in smart beta strategies hit USD 1tn last year, up from USD 136bn in 2007.[i]

Hope from San Francisco

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.

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.