US SIF Statement on Today's SEC Disclosure Rules on Conflict Minerals, Resource Extraction
Statement from Lisa Woll, CEO of US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, on Issuance of the SEC's Rules on Conflict Minerals and the Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers (Sections 1502 and 1504 of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act)
WASHINGTON– Lisa Woll, CEO of US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, issued the following statement regarding disclosure and reporting obligations with respect to the use of conflict minerals as required under Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act), and the rule regarding to payments to governments made by resource extraction issuers as required by Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). As of the time of this statement, the full text of the final rules has not yet been released to the public and therefore this statement relies on information based on the SEC's press releases and public statements during today's open meeting.
We welcome the much needed and long-delayed disclosure rules issued by the SEC today and thank the SEC Commissioners and staff for their hard work through the rulemaking process. In light of the growth of sustainable and responsible investment (SRI) in the United States, these rules come at an important time. With the disclosure required by these rules, investment managers, advisory firms, mutual fund companies, financial planners and other asset owners will be better informed about material risks in investments.
The Section 1502 rule on conflict minerals includes a number of provisions that provide significant benefits to investors, but also includes provisions that are weaker than we would have liked. Corporations will need to report to the SEC on their use of “conflict minerals” – tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold – used in their products, and are required to conduct due diligence measures that conform to a nationally or internationally recognized due diligence framework. We are pleased that the rule applies to all companies – both foreign and domestic. Additionally, the requirement to file versus furnishing the disclosure information on a new form with the SEC recognizes the materiality of the data to investors – although we are disappointed that the SEC did not require that the report be filed in the body of the Annual Report. We call on companies to implement this rule so that investors can assess the degree of care taken by companies to manage their supply chains in a more responsible manner and avoid contributing to human rights violations.
Additionally, we believe the SEC's ruling requiring the disclosure of payments to foreign governments or the U.S. government by resource extraction issuers (Section 1504) will help establish much needed transparency in the extractive industries and help foster an environment that promotes accountability and sound corporate governance practices. While we are pleased that the rules require resource extraction payment disclosure to be filed, rather than furnished, we are disappointed that the filing will be on a new and unfamiliar Form SD and not in the Annual Report. We applaud the fact that there are no exemptions to smaller reporting companies or foreign private issuers, which will keep investment information consistent and comparable for investors.
Disclosure of information on supply chain management and payments to governments are essential measures of sound governance. Although we believe some of the provisions in these rules could have been stronger, the issuance of these rules represents an important step forward in providing greater clarity on material environmental, social and corporate governance disclosure to millions of investors. We ask companies to implement these rules.
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For the US SIF submission to the SEC on conflict minerals, please click here.
For the US SIF submission to the SEC on payments to resource extraction issuers, please click here.
US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (www.ussif.org) is the US membership association for professionals, firms, institutions and organizations engaged in sustainable and responsible investing. US SIF and its members advance investment practices that consider environmental, social and corporate governance criteria to generate long-term competitive financial returns and positive societal impact. US SIF's members include investment management and advisory firms, mutual fund companies, research firms, financial planners and advisors, broker-dealers, banks, credit unions, community development organizations, non-profit associations, and pension funds, foundations and other asset owners.
CONTACT: Alya Kayal, 202-872-5359, firstname.lastname@example.org