Monday 9th December 2019 – This week the EU has reached a political agreement on the European regulation for a framework to facilitate sustainable investment, the so-called “Taxonomy Regulation”. The Regulation aims to help investors and financiers better identify and be legally compelled to invest more sustainably, so they do not inadvertently or otherwise cause environmental destruction.
As the debate around climate breakdown continues to heat up, with the Commission preparing its first Green New Deal in the next few months, the agreement was welcomed – but a renewed call of urgency and stronger action rang out.
Richard Gardiner, Campaigner at Global Witness, said:
“The final Taxonomy agreement is a step in the right direction. It includes provisions that no sustainable investment can be at odds with international standards such as the OECD guidelines on business and human rights. This should help to ensure that investments are subject to ethical scrutiny before being labelled as sustainable. It is urgent, however, that the social and governance risks – not just environmental ones – are considered as equally important and that the Commission bring forward a social taxonomy without delay.”
Global Witness has campaigned with other organisations to push legislators to improve on the original Commission proposal for the Taxonomy – and to expand on the concept of sustainable investments to go beyond only environmental investments, and crucially include socially responsible investments.
The organisation as previously used the example of hydro-electric dams to illustrate the importance of this approach. These create environmentally friendly, renewable energy – but in the case of the Agua Zarca dam in Honduras can lead to indigenous land being grabbed or local water sources polluted. In this case, ignoring the social and governance risks for the dam led to violence – with Honduran Land and Environmental Defender Berta Cáceres murdered after opposing the project.
The anti-corruption NGO has also previously pushed to
strengthen human rights safeguards in the taxonomy, and asked that any so
called ‘sustainable investment’ adheres to the international standards set by
the OECD Responsible Business Conduct Guidance and UN Guiding Principles.
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