Notable News Roundup & Recommended Reading

The TakeAway: Proxy access, human rights, and ethics among important topics of the weekplus, 2 books on improving performance.

Lots of news that’s fit to print this week, but we didn’t have room—so before the long Columbus Day weekend here in the US, a roundup of the highlights.  We also recommend some readings that help improve your game.

MurnPost Notable News Roundup

Proxy Access On Hold | We knew this was coming, but it still galls: on Monday, the SEC issued a stay of its proxy access ruling, in deference to the petition filed in the DC Circuit Court by the Business Roundtable and US Chamber of Commerce, who argue that shareholder say in director nominations tramples corporate Constitutional rights.  This bewildering position even offended some conservatives, who wish to elect more of their own to corporate boards.  See James McRitchie’s blog for an historic overview.

Medicines Patent Pool for Poor Countries | The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has become the first patent-holder to share its intellectual property with the Medicines Patent Pool.  The Patent Pool is a newly-established mechanism to increase access to affordable AIDS drugs that’s managed by UNITAID, an innovative global health financing initiative founded in 2006.  UNITAID’s mission: help scale up access to treatment for HIV/AIDSmalaria, and tuberculosis, primarily for people in low-income countries; 93 countries currently receive UNITAID funding.  The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) applauded the NIH move, and urged pharmaceutical companies to join the Patent Pool.

Burma & Human Rights | After three years of pressure from an investor coalition – including Trillium Asset Management, Domini Social Investments, Walden Asset Management, Boston Common Asset Management, and ICCR – the trading division of Toyota divested its ownership stake in Myanmar Suzuki Motor, jointly owned with the Burmese military junta.  (Next month Burma holds elections the first in 20 years.)  Here’s the SocialFunds report.

International Finance, Human Rights & Climate Change | According to the Bretton Woods Project, which tracks the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), civil society organizations recently called for an extension of the International Finance Corporation (IFC – the World Bank’s private sector arm) consultation on its performance standards.  (See Bretton Woods Update 67.)  The delay enables human rights and other “controversial issues such as climate” to be incorporated.  Supporters also believe a delay could lead to IFC adoption of the free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) principle, as well as the recommendations of UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights John Ruggie (see Update 71).

Gates Foundation & Social Investing, cont’d | After its brush with ignominy in early 2007 regarding its portfolio management, the Gates Foundation continues to search for the right formula for social impact investing that expands opportunities for poor people, rather than generates fees for money managers.  Check out the website for this week’s third gathering of SoCap10 (Social Capital Markets 2010), where Julie Sunderland, senior program investment officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, spoke to participants about the world’s capital allocation problem.

Ethics Department | The Corporate Responsibility Officers Association wants comments on its newly-developed Ethics Code.

Stakeholder Engagement | Framework:CR ponders “pay to play” schemes for stakeholder engagement, and as part of its National Strategy for Corporate Social Responsibility, Germany developed a National Engagement Strategy with four strategic objectives aimed at fostering civic involvement among government, business and civil society.

MurnPost Recommended Reading

Like many of you, I’m a big believer in lifelong learning and ongoing professional development—especially in the sustainability field, which seeks to function at peak performance amidst rapid change.  That’s why I’m reading all I can about the use of emerging technologies in education, as well as the cultivation of virtual and face-to-face learning communities—they’re called “communities of practice”.  Two books lie at my elbow:  The Handbook of Leadership and Professional Learning Communities, edited by Carol A. Mullin (New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2009), and Emerging Technologies in Distance Education, edited by George Veletsianos (Alberta, Canada: Athabasca University Press 2010).

Despite the two books’ general focus on K-12 and post-secondary education, they’re entirely relevant to organizations looking to boost sustainability performance.  In the end, we’re all teachers and learners, and Web 2.0 opens up exciting opportunities for getting better at both.

Please provide us with your “Notable News”, as well as what you’re reading that’s worth sharing.

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