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CalPERS, Ceres, Nike air their call for sustainability

By Barry B. Burr
Pensions & Investments
CalPERS teamed up with Nike and Ceres to urge 1,000 of the largest U.S. companies to incorporate global sustainability factors into business decision-making to deal with social and environmental risks that impact corporate investment returns, according to a joint statement from the group.

CalPERS teamed up with Nike and Ceres to urge 1,000 of the largest U.S. companies to incorporate global sustainability factors into business decision-making to deal with social and environmental risks that impact corporate investment returns, according to a joint statement from the group.

“We expect our portfolio companies to do what is necessary to position themselves to be successful in a sustainable economy,” Anne Stausboll, CEO of the $210.7 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System, Sacramento, said in the statement issued Wednesday. “Environmental and other sustainability issues are core to business performance in the 21st century. We look forward to working closely with companies and other key stakeholders to ensure they are focusing their attention on sustainability risks and opportunities.”

Sally Osberg, president and CEO, Skoll Foundation, Palo Alto, Calif., which is part of the new group, said in the statement: “We believe that environmental sustainability is inextricably linked to long-term economic growth.”

Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres — a coalition of institutional investors and environmental and other groups working with companies and investors to address sustainability risks — said in the statement that “companies aren’t prioritizing environmental and social factors across all of their operations. Short-term profit and myopic attitudes on long-term risk and opportunity still rule the day. These attitudes and practices need to change — not just among companies, but investors, too.”

The new group plans reach out to the companies over the next years through letters and other communication as well as inviting representatives of some of the companies to forums it is hosting around the country with investors to discuss economic sustainability issues, including a roundtable at CalPERS’ office this fall. The group is still working out a date for the CalPERS meeting, and dates and locations of other forums, said Andrea Moffat, senior director of the Ceres corporate program.

A Nike representative couldn’t be reached to discuss the company’s role.

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