The effectiveness of public policy engagement

For over a decade, Triodos Research has been supporting public issues to break the connection between the mining of ‘conflict minerals’, such as gold, tantalum, tin and tungsten, and the extremely violent conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) and its surrounding countries. Income from these minerals is used to fuel the conflict in this region. The engagement tactics employed include discussing responsible sourcing with companies that use these minerals and by requiring a commitment from companies to avoid the use of them.

Tin is one of the most well-known conflict minerals.
Tin is one of the most well-known conflict minerals.

With the collaborative effort of industry players and NGOs, Triodos Research initiated a final call to members of the European Parliament to make it mandatory for companies to conduct supply chain due diligence on conflict minerals. This letter was sent just ahead of the vote in the European Parliament. In 2014 a similar letter was also sent to the European Commission, European Council and European Parliament. Triodos Research was very pleased to see that on 20 May 2015, the European Parliament voted for this mandatory supply chain due diligence on conflict minerals.

The trigger to active involvement

It is not the goal for Triodos Research to get involved in public policy, preferring dialogue and voting with companies over public policy engagement in the political sphere. However, the topic of conflict minerals came to the forefront when the United States adopted a law for mandatory supply chain due diligence, paving the way for Europe to adapt a similar law.

Triodos Research managed to attract many investors who supported bringing this topic to the public domain in Europe. Triodos Research is not a specialist in public policy, but those that have experience helped us to draft the letter and to bring it to the attention of the right people. Once the vote passed in Parliament, it also signaled other companies within our sustainable investment universe to prioritise conflict minerals and even set up further requirements in their supply chain management.

Developing the most impact

The conflict minerals case shows the influence that can be had on public policy. With public policy, Triodos Research applies a stakeholder model, not looking at it from a profit perspective or agenda, but taking into consideration the environmental and social concerns together, and drawing an opinion where everyone benefits.

Collaboration in the public sphere is only one of many ways to encourage improvement.

Engagement will always be our core focus as an investor. Collaboration in the public sphere is only one of many ways to encourage improvement. Public policy must have a connection to Triodos Bank’s role as an investor in order to participate. In the end, the primary goal is to not make direct governmental impact, but to influence companies to become more sustainable.

To read more about our individual dialogue and other forms of engagement in 2015, please refer to the Company Engagement Report