The United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment
(UN PRI) programme has received support from three orginsations
to create engagement between investors and companies to
promote and respect the rights of indigenous peoples around
Investment research company EIRIS, the Centre for Australian
Ethical Research (CAER) and Survival International are supporting
the move with UN PRI collaborative engagement drawing on
latest research from EIRIS exploring the opportunities faced
by companies operating in parts of the world where the rights
of indigenous peoples are threatened.
According to the United Nations there are 370 million indigenous
people in the world and 5,000 distinct indigenous cultural
identities in more than 70 countries.
There are believed to be more than 100 uncontacted groups
in the world. Although indigenous people only account for
5% of the world's population, they account for over 15%
of the world's poor.
Companies engaging in activities that may infringe the
rights of indigenous peoples, as enshrined within the UN
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, face increasing
reputational risks potentially leading to issues with access
to capital, damage to brand, licence to operate, and operational
risks such as the threat of litigation and increased regulation.
The EIRIS report Indigenous rights: risks and opportunities
for investors highlights the rights of indigenous peoples
as a key human rights issue that companies and their investors
should take into account.
It covers companies operating in sectors and countries
considered to be high risk for indigenous peoples.
The research also highlights key risks areas which investors
should consider when engaging with companies on indigenous
rights issues such as access to investment capital; increased
regulation; litigation and reputational risk.
The key findings are:
- Big companies at risk: 250 companies (with a total market
value of GBP 1.7 trillion) have been identified as having
an exposure to indigenous rights. 17% of companies have
a high risk exposure to indigenous rights issues.
- Few companies report on indigenous rights issues: The
quality of reporting is generally poor: whilst most companies
provide a response to allegations of breaches of indigenous
rights few report voluntarily on areas of non-compliance.
- Fewer than 20% of companies have adopted a policy supporting
free prior informed consent2 for indigenous peoples:19%
of these companies have a corporate-wide indigenous rights
policy. Only 15% of companies have a corporate-wide policy
supporting free prior informed consultation.
- Only a fifth of companies disclose employment data on
indigenous people:19% of companies disclose employment data
on indigenous peoples.
- Fewer than 10% of companies have a policy for involuntary
resettlement: Just over 6% of companies have a policy covering
Stephanie Maier, head of research at EIRIS, said: 'Indigenous
rights is a complex issue that companies and their investors
need to address and is especially important for extractive
companies as they seek to expand and gain access to land.
"Our research explores the challenges and opportunities
faced by major companies operating in parts of the world
where the rights of indigenous peoples are threatened. We
are very pleased to be working with the UN PRI and Survival
International on this important area of engagement.'
Click here (http://www.eiris.org/files/research%20publications/indigenousrightsjun09.pdf)
to download a copy of the research report.