Even three years ago, a Starbucks customer wouldn’t have had to ask for a straw. Now? Sure. And it’s not just consumer-oriented businesses that have had to roll with the times and become more environmentally conscious; institutional investors and industry — including in the resource sector — are also having to get on board.
“Corporate social responsibility is seen as an important business principle in project development,” says Thomas Isaac, a partner in Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP in Vancouver, whose practice focuses on Aboriginal law as well as energy, and who typically acts for companies.
If one turns the clock back even five years ago, Isaac says, there wasn’t the same degree of sensitivity to the impact of human behaviour on climate change, the environmental impact of mining or other resource-sector projects or to relationships with Indigenous peoples. Now these concerns are at the fore for companies and investors.
“The world is changing very quickly.”
What’s more, investors themselves are now being looked at as fiduciaries, says Kellie Johnston, a senior member of Norton Rose Fulbright LLP’s global risk advisory practice, from her Calgary office. She notes the UN initiative to ensure that institutional investors have fiduciary duties.
“Investors are not only getting more and more interested in this, but there are looming regulations,” she says. In the European Union, new sustainability-related disclosure regulations will come into force in March 2021. “So, investors are now much more interested,” she says. Notably, in January, BlackRock, Inc., a major American global investment management corporation, pledged to change its investment approach after increased public scrutiny on its fossil fuel and private-prison holdings; BlackRock’s CEO, Larry Fink, even penned an open letter to other CEOs emphasizing the importance of sustainable investing, noting that “in the near future— and sooner than most anticipate — there will be a significant reallocation o
Mar 02, 2020