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Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
25 July 2002
The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, said today that a grant of $55,000 from the Howard Government will soon enable investors and fund managers to view environmental and social initiatives of the Australian Stock Exchange's top 300 companies on the internet.
Dr Kemp said that the Melbourne-based Sustainable Investment Research Institute is currently developing the database called Sustainability Reporter, which will help meet increasing demand for information on environmental and social performance.
Data for the top 100 companies will be available in late August 2002, with the project due for completion by December 2002.
The announcement was made at the Finance and Sustainability Forum in Melbourne, attended by finance sector stakeholders to discuss ways of incorporating environmental and social issues within their products and services in Australia. The forum was co-hosted by Environment Australia and Victoria's Environment Protection Authority.
"This initiative is consistent with the broader effort by the Howard Government to encourage industry to pursue sustainable development. The Financial Services Reform Act 2001 requires financial product providers to disclose the extent to which investments such as superannuation, managed investment and life insurance products take into account labour standards, or environmental, social or ethical considerations.
"This database will assist investors, as well as easing the burden on companies arising from increasing levels of requests for information on sustainability. It will also help to consolidate the growth of Australia's market for Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) products, which incorporate environmental or social performance into traditional investment analysis.
Dr Kemp also announced that the Commonwealth had provided funding of $50,000 to the Ethical Investment Association (EIA) to support the continued development of SRI. The funding will be used to raise public awareness and support the third annual Ethical Investment Association conference.
"In Australia, assets of SRI managed funds grew by 86 per cent between 2000 and 2001 to $1.3 billion. Many institutional investors believe companies that operate in a socially and environmentally responsible manner will be the most likely to succeed over the longer term. Eventually, environmental performance will be part of mainstream risk management for both business and the finance sector.
"I congratulate the finance sector on its leadership in environmental reporting. Companies that are better managing the environment and reporting their efforts are now not only being rewarded by regulators and the communities in which they operate, but by the financial markets too," Dr Kemp said.
Catherine Job Dr Kemp's office (02) 6277 7640; 0408 648 400
Terence Jeyaretnam SIRIS (03) 9691 4000
Janice Carpenter EIA (03) 9853 0995