Footwear and Apparel
SIRC works towards addressing issues related to labor rights in the apparel and garment industry and their supply chains.
More footwear and apparel companies are becoming aware of the potential for human rights abuses in their global operations and supply chains and what they can do to prevent these egregious crimes. Given the complexity of company supply chains and the multitude of contractors and subcontractors, recruiters, and suppliers used throughout a production process, there can be great risks to companies from illegal labors, negative publicity, and consumer boycotts, business interruptions and strikes–all of which can have a deleterious impact on shareholder value.
Among footwear and apparels corporations, SRIC intensely engages in dialogue with Skechers, Coach, Ralph Lauren Corporation in addressing supply chain management, especially related to labor rights. SIRC advocates for minimum wages and improving working conditions for workers in the production stage.
In 2019, SRIC filed shareholder resolutions to Skechers on HR policy and forced labor. We requested the Board of Directors to adopt a comprehensive human rights policy by December 2020 articulating our company’s commitment to respect human rights, which includes a description of proposed steps to identify, assess, prevent and mitigate actual and potential adverse human rights impacts.
SRIC has actively engaged in discussions with corporations regarding flaring from oil and gas industry in West and South Texas.
Dr. Anna Falkenberg, Executive Director of SRIC discusses the flaring issue in various meetings with corporations and investors and proposes a call on all oil and gas companies to implement cost-effective methane technologies and management processes to significantly reduce flaring. Similar to Eagle Ford Shale booming of flaring, since 2013, Permian operators in West Texas have squandered roughly a trillion cubic feet of natural gas through flaring — enough to meet the yearly needs of every Texas home three times over. In 2019 alone, Permian operators sent 280 billion cubic feet of gas worth about $420 million up in flames. As investors in oil and gas companies and residents where these operations are based, we are disturbed by the industry’s disregard for operational efficiency and clean air.
In times of difficulties posing by the COVID-19, the debate over sensible and sustainable flaring standards long predates the pandemic and it is an issue that will not go away on its own. We recognize that companies are weathering serious economic turbulence as a result of the pandemic, and oil and gas companies face additional challenges given current market volatility. But part of the calculus for emerging as a healthy competitor must include consideration of future market demand, operational excellence that includes protections for workers, and strong climate and environmental standards that will safeguard public health. Investors will be watching operator strategies in these areas closely.
Health Impacts of Methane Emissions
SRIC, in association with ICCR, advocates for regulation of controlling methane leaks from oil and natural gas wells. Methane contributes to climate change, thus harming health. Increases in world average temperatures already lead to heat waves, wildfires, increased rainfall, flooding, extreme weather events, and other climate change phenomena that harm human health.
In 2017, SRIC published a letter opposing EPA action in rescinding limits on methane leaks from oil and gas industry through New Source Performance Standards (NSPS – the “Rule”). While Americans depend on federal methane safeguards to keep the air they breathe clean, NSPS poses serious challenges to the efforts of reducing the impacts of methane emissions. The EPA has a responsibility to reduce methane pollution by holding oil and gas companies accountable for checking for and repairing leaking equipment. Comprehensive standards will help protect the people who live near oil and gas facilities from harmful methane pollution that worsens asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
One in three Americans lives in a county with oil and gas production. Methane pollution poses a serious and immediate risk to the health of Americans and should be addressed with seriousness and urgency. Americans need protection from the health effects of natural gas, especially the roughly 17.6 million Americans who live near active oil and gas operations and face serious health risks associated with fugitive emissions.
Site visits to mines in Ghana, Peru, and Columbia gave representatives a high-level overview of operations, including mining, processing and supporting infrastructure, and the management of health, safety and environmental aspects. They also provided an overview of stakeholder engagement activities including community consultation, complaints/grievance management, community development and actions take to minimise the mining operations environmental impacts; an opportunity to have open frank conversations about key challenges from a social and environmental perspective and the various efforts underway to address these issues. These visits also allowed an opportunity to understand local community characteristics, civil society organizations, community and local government leader perspectives regarding the positive and negative impact of mining on the community. These trips were organized by Mining and Faith Reflection Initiative (MFRI) at the invitation of various mines. In 2014, SRIC Executive Director, Anna Falkenberg, visited gold mines at the invitation of Newmont Mining and AngloGold Ashanti. This visit was specifically related to water issues and human rights in mining. In 2015, Anna Falkenberg visited the gold mines in Peru at the invitation of Newmont Mining. The purpose of the trip was to discuss issues relating to water, human rights and a land dispute. In 2017, Glencore and Cerrejon invited Anna Falkenberg and other MFRI representatives to visit their coal mines in Columbia. During this trip, issues discussed included water and human rights.
Sustainable Agriculture – Pesticides
Growing food relies on pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers that pollute the environment if used in excess. SRIC, in association with ICCR, engages in dialogue with food-related companies regarding the practice of sustainable agriculture, especially the use of pesticides.
Agriculture depends on the conservation of our most precious natural resources: water, land, and biodiversity. With industrialization of agriculture, profit-based and fast growing produce led to many unintended environmental and social consequences, including the overuse of artificial fertilizers and pesticides, and generation of enormous quantities of animal waste that are contaminating our soil, air and water.
We promote agriculture sustainability towards more resilience to the environment and human health. Companies should seek to decrease and eventually eliminate reliance and improper use of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides — including glysophosphate and neonics — which threaten human and environmental health in the long term.
SRIC promotes programs where biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people. We especially highlight local efforts to Preserve Natural Landscapes, to provide Food Supply Chain Security and to promote Water Stewardship. We believe that the conservation of biological diversity should be a common concern of humankind. We urge our partners, friends and corporate businesses to take effective and urgent action to halt the loss of biodiversity in order to ensure that the ecosystems are resilient and continue to provide essential services for the planet.
SRIC has held the virtual 2020 Annual Educational Event topic “Care of our Common Home is in our Hands.” We invited Rev. Séamus Finn OMI, Director and Chief of Faith Consistent Investing, OIP Investment Trust, to share with us in Celebrating the Mystery of Inter-Dependence!; Maurice Lange, Director of Lebh Shomea House of Prayer, reminds us that Earth Day is every day with his Letter to those celebrating the 100th Earth Day on April 22, 2070. He also invites us to consider how Religious Communities can meet a “Profound Need of the Human Soul” with a beautiful trip to Lebh Shomea as an example of land preservation.
Antibiotics in our food supply
Antibiotics have been given to farm animals like cows, pigs and poultry in order to treat infections or prevent an illness from spreading. In 2011, 80% of all antibiotics sold in the US were for use in food-producing animals. Excessive antibiotic use contributes to the rise of antibiotic-resistance in the U.S. and across the world.
SRIC, in association with ICCR, engages in dialogues with producers, food companies and restaurant chains to commit to being responsible stewards of antibiotics use. We prioritize protecting human and environmental health by asking companies to eliminate the use of all antibiotics, including animal-only antibiotics, for purposes of growth promotion, feed efficiency and routine prevention (both prophylactic and metaphylactic use). We actively engage farmers, suppliers and other stakeholders to reduce the use of antibiotics across the industry and establish standard reporting requirements on antibiotics use.
Access to Nutrition
SRIC actively engages in dialogue with major food manufacturers and local retailers on the issues of effective governance and management systems for nutrition including nutritional quality of food and beverage products. We support the Access to Nutrition Index (ATNI) initiative as ATNI will assess the nutrition policies, practices and performance of the largest food & beverage manufacturers.
SRIC concerns about the obesity issue in the United States. Obesity is a pressing health concern that affects nearly 40% of adults and 18.5% of children in the United States, putting them at risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and other serious diseases. It threatens the nation’s healthcare system and economy. SRIC communicates America’s major manufacturers, specifically with General Mills, on the necessity of how the food and beverage industry can contribute to addressing America’s nutrition challenges and play its part in finding solutions to obesity challenges.
With the increasing mass incarceration of noncitizens, for-profit corporations are making a lucrative business out of detaining immigrants. At the time that Immigration laws continue to tighten, refugees and asylum seekers coming through the US-Mexico border have to spend days or months or more in detention centers as they go through judicial and diplomatic processes. Detainees are obviously status-insecure, confined and without clear legal standing. They have been shown to suffer from a shortage of access to healthcare and basic services while paying a large amount of money to stay in detention centers.
SRIC supports the work of the Interfaith Welcome Coalition (IWC), which centers on protecting the rights of those individuals detained in Family Detention Centers. IWC works tirelessly to push legislation aimed at ending deportations and close such facilities. Currently, these centers are administered as for-profit prisons that disregard humanitarian concerns. To contribute to IWC efforts, SRIC has been actively involved in multiple corporate engagements with organizations like the GEO Group Inc. and Core Civic, which own such detention facilities, as a way to improve the conditions of detainees.
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