Are We Making Progress? Recent News About “Apparel Fashion & Sustainability” -- Investor Initiative to Help Make East Asian Factory Workers Safer & Better Paid…




Are We Making Progress? Considering Recent News About “Apparel Fashion & Sustainability” -- and the Investor Initiative to Help Make East Asian Factory Workers Safer and Better Paid…

In monitoring the growing abundance of news stories and commentary about “supply chain,” “globalization” or “trade” topics and issues, our editors often see the focus is on apparel, clothing, textiles, fashion, etc.  Companies in the developed economies widely source apparel footwear and related items in the developing and under-developed nations – and what happens there can quickly make news that travels around the globe.

Example:  The focus five years ago about this time was on the East Asian nation of Bangladesh and the Rana Plaza vertical factory tragedy in the capital city of Dhaka (or Dacca) that killed more than 1,000 garment industry workers.  The labels of leading western nation marketers were scattered about the debris and ashes -- and those familiar brand images as well as images of the collapsed building and details of the tragedy helped to focus attention on worker conditions in the East Asian region in both North America and Europe.

The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) investor coalition is keeping the focus on worker safety as the “Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Safety” is renewed for another three years.  ICCR institutions and their investor allies organized as “The Bangladesh Investor Initiative” (with collective AUM of US$4.5 trillion) on the 5th anniversary are urging a stronger corporate response and demonstrated commitment to local worker safety and adequate wage levels.  The link to our blog commentary on recent developments and background information for companies and investors is below.

Some good news to share is that sustainability is catching on in the fashion industry.  The uber fashion magazine from publishers Conde Nast – Vogue, with more than one million readers -- just published a story about the embrace of “eco-friendly” fashion, spotlighting “the best designers of a new generation are stitching sustainability into everything they do…”

“While sustainability has long been considered a “byword for hemp-heavy bohemia,” writer Olivia Singer explains, “a new generation of designers is building brands with a more conscious approach to fashion at their core.”

Fabrics are sourced through collectives in India empowering female weavers as just one example.  In the article designers explain why sustainability is important to their brands (Richard Malone, Le Kilt, Elliss, E.L.V. Denim, Alyx, Marine Serre, Richard Quinn are featured interviews).

A number of creative approaches being adopted by the designers is explained -- just think about the contribution to global sustainability of turning recycled plastics and viscose into yarn and fringing, using organic cotton as well as recycled polyester for “new” fashions, creating ECONYL from fishnets to make swimwear, and using recycled cotton and plastics as part of the effort of making sustainability a “pillar of luxury”.

The encouraging details are in our Top Story this week – a cautionary note:  some of the fashion photos are edgy and might offend.

Top Stories

The Young Designers Pioneering A Sustainable Fashion Revolution   
(Thursday - April 26, 2018) Source: Vogue - While eco-friendly fashion has never had particularly glamorous connotations, the best designers of a new generation are stitching sustainability into everything they do. 

And of interest, G&A’s Sustainability Update Blog: 
The Bangladesh Garment Factory Workers Tragedy and
Investor & Corporate Response Five Years On…

 

Sustainability: Forward Momentum! For Your Attention: The Editors' Scans

Europe, Emerging Markets Lead in Sustainability   
(Monday - April 23, 2018) Source: Morningstar - For those who are familiar with the Morningstar Sustainability Rating for funds, it's very much aligned. The globe rating looks at funds' sustainability profiles judged by the environmental, social, and governance practices of... 

Putting the 'U' in sustainability   
(Monday - April 23, 2018) Source: Herald Palladium - The environment can be threatened by all kinds of waste, from PFAS chemicals to pizza boxes, officials said Friday at the eighth annual Michigan’s Great Southwest Sustainable Business Forum legislative gathering.

Achieving Mission Possible: The sustainability success stories of the week   
(Monday - April 23, 2018) Source: Edie.net - Published every Sunday, the new series charts how businesses and sustainability professionals are working to achieve their 'Mission Possible' across the campaign’s five key pillars - energy, resources, infrastructure, mobility.

Why institutions should invest in sustainability practices   
(Tuesday - April 24, 2018) Source: Education Dive - Incorporating sustainability practices into campus operations can go a long way in signaling to the industry, as well as prospective students concerned about the trajectory of climate change, that the institution is committed to...

How the blockchain could transform sustainability reporting   
(Wednesday - April 25, 2018) Source: GreenBiz - Right now, we are experiencing a crisis in cultural confidence. We don’t trust our institutions because they are all talk and no action. We view corporations with suspicion. This is why I believe the blockchain dramatically will.

Report from Sustainability Advocate Shows U.S. Insurers Lag Peers   
(Wednesday - April 25, 2018) Source: Insurance Journal - While a small group of insurance companies is taking meaningful steps to acknowledge and respond to the business risks posed by a new operating reality posed by a changing climate, overall the sector’s performance lags behind its... 

Al Gore: ‘We're in the early stages of a sustainability revolution'  
(Thursday - April 26, 2018) Source: Wired - The sustainability revolution has taken off, but there's more work to do. Former US vice-president Al Gore and veteran investor David Blood explain why they're championing thoughtful firms 

How to leverage science-based metrics in sustainability roles  
(Thursday - April 26, 2018) Source: GreenBiz - Metrics are critical for businesses to assess the success of their processes. Sustainable business professionals also track their processes — with science-based metrics. 

5 ways to engage your senior leadership on sustainability strategy   
(Thursday - April 26, 2018) Source: GreenBiz - The era of stand-alone sustainability strategies, with subsequent integration of sustainability into company strategy, needs to end; the creation of resilient business strategies that take sustainability as their foundation needs... 

Let’s talk sustainability   
(Friday - April 27, 2018) Source: Indianapolis Recorder - While there has been lots of discussion about sustainability recently, sustainability at the national level goes back almost 50 years, beginning with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969. 

Sustainability-Focused Headlines for You From the Corporate Sector  

Tech firms like Google, Amazon push power companies toward solar and wind, a blow to coal  
(Monday - April 23, 2018) Source: USA Today - Every time you save a photo to the cloud, buy something on Amazon, open a Google doc or stream a movie, you’re probably pulling electricity from a wind turbine in Texas or a solar farm in Virginia. 

Ford is basically giving up on US car business, and GM is not far behind
(Friday - April 27, 2018) Source: CNBC - Ford's plan to reduce its passenger car lineup to just two models, and GM's difficulty selling passenger cars in the U.S. show how much tastes are drifting toward trucks, SUVs and crossovers

The Hershey Company Once Again Named to the Dow Jones Sustainability World and North America Index   
(Sunday - April 22, 2018) Associated Profiles : SAM Group Source: Business Wire - The Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes (DJSI) are determined by SAM (Sustainable Asset Management), in partnership with the S&P and Dow Jones Indices. They are the first global sustainability benchmarks that track the financial... 

Danone sets 2030 Goals for long-term sustainable value creation, supported by an innovative governance and employee engagement model
(Friday - April 27, 2018) Associated Profiles : Eiris Source: GlobeNewswire - Listed on Euronext Paris and on the OTCQX market via an ADR (American Depositary Receipt) program, Danone is a component stock of leading social responsibility indexes including the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes, Vigeo Eiris,... 

2017 Sustainability Report Highlights Progress, Features New Graphics   
(Friday - April 27, 2018) Source: Harvard Crimson - Harvard continued to reduce trash production per capita and water use in 2017, bringing the University closer to reaching its sustainability goals, according the 2017 Sustainability Report released Wednesday. 

How UPS navigates a culture of sustainability and innovation   
(Thursday - April 26, 2018) Source: GreenBiz - Our recent work in Dublin has enabled us to replace conventional diesel vehicles with electrically assisted tricycles, which produce no emissions. 

Why Mining — Yes, Mining — Cares About Sustainability   
(Wednesday - April 25, 2018) Source: Harvard Business Review - n the early days of corporate environmentalism, the focus was mainly on big, heavy industries. Fossil fuels and mining had the most obvious environmental issues, as well as extensive regulatory regimes to navigate. These days,...  

6 Ways Pro Sports Brands are Pushing Sustainability Initiatives (and Why it Matters)   
(Wednesday - April 25, 2018) Source: Inc - Major sports brands, despite being removed from typical consumer markets, are starting to transform their organizations to change fan (and sponsor) perceptions by becoming more sustainable, in line with this growing trend... 


Celebrating Earth Day 2018!

Cornell Celebrates 46th Earth Day, Continues to Maintain a Strong Commitment to the Environment, Sustainability and Climate Change 
(Wednesday - April 25, 2018) 
Source: Cornell Sun - As the Ivy League institution that is ranked number one in the country for sustainability according to the Princeton Review, it is no surprise that Cornell goes all out for Earth Day. So much so, in fact, that the entire month of..

Earth Day review: Public opinion on global warming   
(Monday - April 23, 2018) 
Source: AEI - For Earth Day 2018, we decided to highlight a few key survey trends from the Gallup Organization and Pew Research Center that provide an idea of how Americans think about a hot topic in polling on environmental issues: global... 

How the Environment Has Changed Since the First Earth Day   
(Monday - April 23, 2018) 
Source: National Geographic - When the first Earth Day was held in 1970, pesticides were killing bald eagles, and soot was darkening the sky. Now, habitat loss and climate change are imperiling the planet. 

Bloomberg pledges $4.5M to fulfill US commitment to Paris accord   
(Monday - April 23, 2018) 
Source: The Hill - Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) said on Sunday that he would cut a check for $4.5 million to fulfill the United States' financial commitment to the Paris climate accord. 


Our Focus This Week on A Range of ESG Topics & Issues – More Things For You to Think About

Genetically modified foods raise questions   
(Friday - April 27, 2018) Associated Profiles : Institute for Responsible Technology Source: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - according to the Institute for Responsible Technology. Besides human health, other issues surrounding GMOs are bee health, reduced biodiversity, soil health, contamination of organic crops and very importantly, how genetically..

Climate change intensifies droughts in Europe
(Thursday - April 26, 2018) Source: Science Daily - Global warming will exacerbate soil droughts in Europe - droughts will last longer, affect greater areas, and have an impact on more people. If the earth warms by three degrees Celsius, extreme events could become the normal...

Investors are making a difference with their portfolios   
(Wednesday - April 25, 2018) Source: Yahoo Finance - Canadian clean energy financing and investment company CoPower has shown that it’s not only easy to be green, but it’s also a way for investors to make some money along the way. 

A Look Inside The California Water Crisis That Nobody's Talking About   
(Wednesday - April 25, 2018) Source: MBG Planet - An estimated 500,000 to 1 million people in California's central valley have trouble accessing water, or the water doesn't meet federal clean water drinking standards. 


News & Opinion: Asset Managers, Sovereign Wealth Funds, Pension Funds

Calpers Rejects Plea to Divest From Carmakers Over Emissions   
(Thursday - April 26, 2018) Associated Profiles : California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) Source: Bloomberg L.P. - The California Public Employees’ Retirement System opposes plans by the Trump administration to relax vehicle emissions standards. But don’t expect Calpers to exert its muscle by dumping shares of car makers. The... 

A NY Pension Fund Just Entered Invested $2 Billion With Goldman Sachs   
(Friday - April 27, 2018) Associated Profiles : South Carolina Retirement Systems Source: Business Insider - In 2008, South Carolina Retirement Systems entered a $1.5 billion partnership with the bank's investment management unit and in 2010, the Alaska Permanent Fund awarded it over $500 million. AIMS, which had $156 billion in assets...

Investors are making a difference with their portfolios   
(Wednesday - April 25, 2018) Source: Yahoo Finance - Canadian clean energy financing and investment company CoPower has shown that it’s not only easy to be green, but it’s also a way for investors to make some money along the way...

Norway dominates sovereign wealth funds   
(Thursday - April 26, 2018) Associated Profiles : National Wealth Fund Source: Financial Standard - The remaining capital was redistributed to the country's National Wealth Fund. Assets of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) and Turkey Wealth Fund continued to gain momentum, growing US$183 billion and US$40 billion...

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