Sustainability Update: A diverse range of activities

July 19, 2023
ESG Insights

It has been a busy period for the sustainability team. We were firstly invited to join WWF and many diverse thought leaders at a roundtable hosted by Deloitte recently to grapple with the question of how to attract investment into regenerative business and the challenges and barriers to growing the regenerative economy. The indigenous perspectives from Professor Dean Sanders OAM and Sean Appoo from the Aboriginal Carbon Foundation were invaluable and Ethical Partners was grateful to hear directly from these and many other great minds gathered around the table. Ethical Partners was able to share details of the current limitations as listed equities investors to being able to better invest in regenerative economy solutions, as well as the policy advocacy we are supporting in this space. We are excited to continue this conversation with WWF and Deloitte and are currently endeavouring to bring together a wider roundtable of responsible investment leaders to further develop this conversation.

Finance roundtable at the Circular Economy Forum

Ethical Partners also attended the Finance roundtable at the Circular Economy Forum, which once again focussed on the need for a holistic approach, a rapid move from a siloed linear economy, a system-thinking approach and finding the shared levers for change. The Financial sector roundtable focused strongly on the critical role for the Australian banks given their large spheres of influence and ability to require action on circularity, climate change and natural capital loss from all their downstream customers. This is something that we firmly believe in at Ethical Partners as detailed in our recent Stewardship and Engagement report on page 12. It was also great to discuss these issues with representatives of the four big banks, as well as the Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative and the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. Key topic areas included:

- Supporting wider mainstream investments in circular economy solutions;

- The importance of taxonomy developments;

- The need for the development of credible metrics and best practice guidance;

- Legislative adjustments needed to facilitate the financial sector collaboration that is required to drive this wider economy shift

Once again, the focus on indigenous wisdom and the necessity of a relational approach, as noted by indigenous leaders Susan Moylan-Coombs and Professor Dean Sanders OAM was very much valued and Ethical Partners was once again grateful to hear directly from indigenous voices on these critical issues, something we have committed to endeavouring to do wherever possible in our recent draft Reconciliation Action Plan.

Australia Pacific Climate Change and Circular Economy Dialogue

Ethical Partners was also invited to attend the Australia Pacific Climate Change and Circular Economy Dialogue with the Minister for Climate Change for Vanuatu, Ralph Regenvanu, the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation for Fiji, Linda Tabuya, government representatives from Samoa and Papua New Guinea, as well as the Australian Ambassador for Climate Change, Kristen Tilley.

Important conversations at this forum included the Port Vila call, the vulnerability and continuing challenges of climate change for these Pacific Island neighbours, but also their great progress on renewable energy, the need for abolishing fossil fuel subsidies, and the need for Australian producers to step up and help the Pacific Islands deal with their imported waste, as well as the gendered nature of the effects of climate change on women and the critical need for a gender sensitive climate change response. Other topics discussed included the Pacific Islanders traditional circularity knowledge, forestry in PNG, resilience and adaption, relocation of communities, climate justice, Australia’s new Net Zero Authority (for which Ethical Partners has actively advocated for over the last few months), as well as Australia’s new First Nations Clean Energy Strategy, and the critical role for Australia in supporting the Pacific in the global loss and damage negotiations. These discussions left the room with much food for thought, a huge amount of admiration for the bravery and leadership displayed by these countries, and an increased sense of urgency to advance climate change action and climate justice.

Australian Government Modern Slavery Conference

Finally, Ethical Partners was invited by the Attorney General to attend the Australian Government Modern Slavery Conference in Melbourne last week. It was a great opportunity to gather with many other diverse and committed stakeholders who are passionate about addressing Modern Slavery, including representatives from government, NGO’s, unions, civil society, survivors, international agencies, human rights experts, business, clients, and investor collaborations. We look forward to publishing a detailed wrap-up of the many important conversations that took place here, as well as the key takeaway and next steps for Ethical Partners, in the next few weeks.

Additionally, Ethical Partners was pleased to make a submission to the Australian Parliament on enacting a National Human Rights Act, as well as publish the results of our recent analysis on human rights protections across the ASX 300, as well as our concerns regarding the lack of attention to a broad and deep definition of human rights across ASX companies in general, and upcoming subsequent engagements on this with portfolio companies. Please see this article linked here.

Back in the office, Ethical Partners has been doing a deep analysis across the portfolio on our Scope 3 footprints, as well as finalising our expectations for companies, a report on our collaborations and our portfolio wide TNFD analysis, as well as finalising our engagement plans and objectives for the upcoming reporting season engagements with all portfolio companies. We look forward to sharing our takeaways from these meetings with you in an engagement update later in the year.

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