Ethical Funds unveils 2010 plan to engage major corporations on top concerns

VANCOUVER, Nov. 9 /CNW/ - Ethical Funds, a division of Northwest & Ethical Investments L.P., will engage in dialogue with over 60 Canadian and international corporations in the coming year to advance corporate sustainability issues, reduce portfolio risk and increase shareholder value.

The launch of Ethical Funds' Shareholder Action Focus List follows an extensive review of environmental, social, and governance risks; exposure to these risks in our Funds, and where we can be most effective in improving corporate performance. This year the Focus List themes are separated by environmental, social and governance issues and include:

    
    -   Environment - Oil Sands, Climate Change & Biodiversity, and Safe Food
        & Water
    -   Social - Protecting Human Rights, Indigenous Rights, and Workers'
        Rights
    -   Governance - Risk Management Procedures, ESG Disclosure, and
        Executive Compensation
    

"Investors are embracing the idea that socially responsible investment is not simply about investing in good companies - it's about making good companies better. That is the goal of our shareholder action program," says Vice President of Sustainability Bob Walker.

While financials have always been prominent on the Focus List for issues relating to climate change and biodiversity, a slightly different tact is being taken this year. In light of some of the underlying causes of the financial crisis, it is our intention to ensure that Canadian banks and insurance companies are adequately assessing overall risk through comprehensive risk management procedures.

The 2010 Focus List has a renewed emphasis on the most basic of life's necessities - safe food and water. "With almost daily headlines about the safety of our food system, the presence of toxic chemicals and the protection of our water sources, this work is crucial and timely," says Walker.

The oil sands industry continues to be an important focus going into 2010. Ethical Funds will encourage companies to better manage impacts on biodiversity, water and climate change in addition to respecting First Nations' treaty rights.

The 2010 Focus List, including all companies for engagement is available at ethicalfunds.com.

About Northwest & Ethical Investments L.P.

Northwest & Ethical Investments L.P. (NEI) has over $4 billion in assets under management and is owned by Desjardins Group and the Canadian Credit Union System. NEI was created through the merger of Northwest Mutual Funds and The Ethical Funds Company in late 2007. NEI offers a full range of management styles and a diverse selection of boutique funds. These include conventional risk-managed investments from Northwest Funds and Canada's largest family of socially responsible investments through Ethical Funds. NEI has offices in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

SOURCE Northwest & Ethical Investments LP

For further information: For further information: Bob Walker, Vice-President, Sustainability, (604) 633-0615, Email: mediarelations@northwestethical.com

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Northwest & Ethical Investments LP

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