Measuring slavery, rating social and environmental performance and where to find the cleanest energy

What’s your slavery footprint?

Have you ever considered how many slaves are involved in making your gadgets, clothes, makeup, or cup of coffee? Probably not, but the new Slavery Footprint website and application intend to shine a spotlight on this dirty underbelly of modern society.

About 27 million people are currently enslaved worldwide. Slavery Footprint was launched by US non-profit group the Fair Trade Fund, in partnership with the US state department’s office to monitor and combat human trafficking, which supplied a $200,000 grant for the project.

The online tool and mobile app ask users about their demographics and main areas of consumption, such as food, clothing, makeup, jewellery and gadgets. The tool computes these behaviours and reveals the user’s “slavery footprint”. A map pinpoints the main areas of impact around the globe, and explains how slaves are used to produce the raw materials needed to make everyday goods – whether it’s the young boys enslaved in Brazil on logging and mining camps, or migrants in China, who are often used as slaves in coal mines and garment factories.

The mobile app will also enable consumers to take a photo of a product and send an email to the manufacturer enquiring about its slave labour stance. The letter will also be posted to consumers’ Facebook and Twitter accounts to boost public awareness. 

Slavery Footprint does not, however, criticise specific brands, as the goal is to educate people about modern day slavery, and incite them to petition brands to take action.

New rating to boost good business 

If you’re a social enterprise looking for capital – or an investor looking for new, promising opportunities – then the Global Impact Investment Rating System may be your answer. 

GIIRS rates both developed and emerging market companies and funds, with the goal of driving capital towards those with notable environmental and social impacts.

GIIRS is a product of the US non-profit group B Lab, which certifies companies as B Corporations based on rigorous criteria that assess their social and environmental performance.

Through GIIRS investors have a standardised process to identify and analyse potential mission-aligned investments. In fact, GIIRS will soon have an analytics portal, which (for a small fee) makes such investments even more easily identifiable, and provides a new channel for purpose-driven companies to fundraise and gain exposure.

GIIRS also promises to cut admin time for all parties by generating one report with consistent metrics to evaluate their impact. In so doing, the rating provides participants with an opportunity to benchmark performance, as GIIRS members must undergo yearly updates. And if that wasn’t enough, the assessment has best practices embedded within it, offering participants a step-by-step guide on how to improve.

Before its September launch, GIIRS worked with 25 pioneer funds in both emerging and developed markets to finalise the assessment. Fifteen “pioneer investors” (including the Inter-American Development Bank, JP Morgan, Prudential Financial, and The Rockefeller Foundation) will give investment preference to GIIRS-rated companies and funds.

Within five years GIIRS is looking to rate 2,500 companies and 350 funds, and within 10 years hopes to push $1tn towards social enterprises.

Clean energy on the rise

In 2010 clean energy finance and investment grew by a whopping $243bn, or 30%, from 2009 levels.

The findings are part of the Pew Charitable Trust’s latest report, Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race?, with supporting data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Not surprisingly, more than 90% of all energy investments went to companies and projects in the G20. Europe remained in the top spot with $94.4bn in private investments, led by Germany ($41.2bn) and Italy ($13.9bn).

Asia also notched up impressive growth, with a 33% investment increase to $82.8bn, led by China, which the report deemed “the world’s clean energy superpower”. Clean energy investment also rose 33% to $54.4bn in China, which is the world’s biggest producer of wind turbines and solar panels.

The US, on the other hand, fell to third place from second in 2009 among G20 members, with $34bn in investments, while the UK experienced the sharpest decline, falling from fifth to 13th place.  Researchers largely attribute the dip to uncertainty in the US and UK around their clean energy policies, prompting investors to put their money in more reliable markets.



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