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18 Mar 2021

Saijel Kishan & Annie Massa, Bloomberg Green

BlackRock to press companies about their policies related to human rights, biodiversity, deforestation & water

"Blackrock to press companies on human rights and nature," 18 March 2021

Blackrock... said it will ask companies in which it holds stakes to identify and show how they intend to prevent human rights abuses, and provide “robust” disclosures about those practices. BlackRock also will request that businesses show how they have adopted sustainable practices regarding air, water, land, minerals and forests.

... In both cases, the New York-based firm said it will ask companies to explain the board’s role in overseeing management’s approach to these issues, and may vote against directors who don’t act. “A company that fails to effectively oversee risks related to the use of natural resources may face negative consequences arising from regulatory, reputational or operational risks,” BlackRock said in the report. Employees, consumers and investors increasingly expect companies to manage all their environmental and social impacts “in order to preserve their social license to operate.”

... BlackRock said it will ask companies about how they preserve biodiversity and the health of the ecosystem, and about their responsible use of energy... BlackRock said it’s particularly interested in how companies are behaving in the communities in which they operate, be it locally or via their supply chains.

... Environmental group Amazon Watch welcomed BlackRock’s moves but said they didn’t go far enough... “BlackRock should adopt a definitive no-deforestation and human rights policy with clear accountability mechanisms that result in concrete improvements for communities, ecosystems, and the planet,” [said] Moira Birss, Amazon Watch’s climate and finance director.