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Socially Responsible Investment

Socially Responsible Investment – Global Business Trend Examined Auckland Conference – March 1

An inaugural one-day conference for the CSRI to look at socially responsible, ethical and sustainable investment by institutional investors and individuals is being held at Waipuna Lodge, Auckland, on Monday 1 March 2004. Media are invited to attend.

The CSRI (www.csri.org.nz) is the Council for Socially Responsible Investment, started by major New Zealand churches, and set up to help develop practical guidelines for institutional, individual and other investors to ensure the organisations they are investing in are acting ethically. CSRI aims to build a broad coalition of interests including environmental and secular groups and individuals.

The Conference features international speakers some of whom are experienced in creating individual and institutional shareholder advocacy programmes on ethical issues in large corporates such as:

Pollution and environmental issues such as greenhouse gases Indigenous peoples and their value systems HIV Aids, and other modern health issues Terrorism and organised crime. child labour

Speakers include:

8.30am: Sister Patricia Wolf, chief of New York faith-based institutional investment group ICCR, whose member organisations have more than US$110 million under investment. ICCR works ecumenically and sees value in working with people with similar values. Sister Patricia, formerly President of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, is responsible for helping the member shareholder organisations of ICCR press large corporates on major ethical issues. [see www.iccr.org] 10.30am: Helga Birgden, chief of CCSRI, the equivalent organisation to ICCR in Australia.

11.00am: video taped interview with Peter Butler, the UK based Hermes Focus Asset Management, Europe – a major player in the pension fund management market. Peter was recently in New Zealand and his interview looks at how his organisation helps ensure more ethical behaviour, and stronger governance in investee organisations. 9.30am: Jeanette Fitzsimons, Co Leader of the Green Party in New Zealand. 7.00pm: David Cunliffe, Associate Minister of Finance and MP for New Lynn will be the dinner speaker.

“In New Zealand we lag behind overseas initiatives on ethical investment by our companies and institutions,” says the chair of CSRI, Dr Robert Howell. “Overseas, many institutional investors and individual investors who have banded together, advocate change through organisations via shareholder resolutions, ensuring effective governance, and nominating appropriate board members. They press hard for changes to corporate behaviour. This conference is about finding a way forward for churches and other large investment groups in New Zealand to establish appropriate guidelines for ethical sustainable investment.”

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