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Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
13 August 2001
Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill today announced the release of a new business guide to socially responsible investment.
A Capital Idea - Realising value from environmental and social performance is aimed at senior executives. It discusses ways to profit from socially responsible investment at the same time as saving money from sustainable practices, improving community standing and shareholder returns, and attracting new customers.
"The amount invested in superannuation funds is now exceeding $497 billion and growing at nine per cent a year. Right across the board, Australia is experiencing rising share ownership. At the same time, investors are increasingly demanding information about the social and environmental performance of the companies they are supporting," Senator Hill said.
"This rising interest in socially responsible investment reflects a trend world wide - this kind of investment already accounts for around $US2.16 trillion dollars in the United States and $A7.2 billion in the United Kingdom.
"As time goes by, the importance of environmental issues and the opportunities and risks associated with them means that all funds will take account of them."
Funded by the Commonwealth Government, the guide was prepared by Deni Greene Consulting Services with Standards Australia and Ethical Investments Services. It will be launched in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne this week by Peter Martin, Chief Executive Officer of Rothschild Australia Asset Management - one of the first mainstream funds managers to launch ethical investment funds.
The guide explains measures companies can take to improve their environmental and social performance, such as environmental management systems, public environmental reporting, codes of practice, greater accountability and better consultation with stakeholders and the community.
"In order to assess companies, socially responsible investment fund managers or individual investors need particular information about environmental and social performance but in Australia these details can be difficult to find," Senator Hill said. "By developing good practices and communicating these to the financial markets, stakeholders and the general community, Australian companies are better placed to attract socially responsible investment funds.
"I urge companies to read the guide and see how they can respond."
The guide follows the release last week of a study of the role of the finance sector in promoting sustainable development. The findings will be discussed at a Ministerial round table with the industry in Canberra later this month.
Copies of the guide are available at http://www.ea.gov.au/industry/sustainable/finance/publications.html or by calling Environment Australia's Community Information Unit on 1800 803 772.
13 August 2001
CONTACT: Belinda Huppatz (Senator Hill's office) 02 6277 7640 or 0419 258 364