Investor toolkit launched to protect First Nations people rights

By Jassmyn Goh for Money Management 

The Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) along with fund managers and superannuation funds have launched a toolkit to help investors engage with companies on Indigenous peoples’ rights and cultural heritage protection.

The organisations involved in the production of the toolkit were abrdn (formerly Aberdeen Standard Investments), Hesta, AustralianSuper, Refinitiv, and Indigenous groups First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance, and National Native Title Council.

The toolkit outlined ’red flags’ investors should look out for in companies’ disclosure and engagement practices on Indigenous peoples’ rights, as well as what ‘good’ looks like. It also suggested detailed questions investors could ask in their engagement with companies, and explained the importance of fundamental concepts such as free, prior and informed consent and self-determination.

RIAA executive manager for programs, Estelle Parker, said investors had a key role to play in ensuring the rights of First Nations People were protected in line with community expectations and international standards.

“Investors need tools to be able to effectively engage with companies on this issue to magnify, respect and support the rights of Indigenous Peoples and to mitigate risks in their portfolio of not doing so,” she said.

abrdn environmental, social, and governance investment director, Danielle Welsh-Rose, said the investment community was on a steep learning curve on how investment activities impacted First Nations People and how they could better address risks related to cultural heritage protection.

“This toolkit is a really important step towards better understanding of Indigenous Peoples’ rights, providing a vital tool to guide investors in meaningful and impactful engagement with companies,” she said.


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