We are aware that Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) practices impact the value and reputation of entities in which we invest. We expect companies to meet their fundamental obligations in the areas of human and labour rights, protecting the environment and ensuring anti-corruption safeguards, wherever they operate, in line with the UN Global Compact Principles and OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (OECD MNEs Guidelines). These are shared frameworks, recognised worldwide and applicable to all industry sectors, based on the international conventions in the areas of human rights, labour standards, environmental stewardship and anti-corruption. We aim to engage with companies where they fall short, and exclude the worst offenders.
We have a series of sector policies that set out the conditions for investing in particular sectors, and guide our screening requirements and stewardship activities. These criteria are based on relevant international conventions and regulations (including the supplemented criteria provided by the OECD for sensitive sectors such as responsible agricultural supply chains or conflict minerals), BNP Paribas Group CSR Policies, and voluntary industry standards. In each sector, we highlight mandatory sector RBC requirements which have to be met by issuers in order for BNP Paribas Asset Management to invest. We do this because if the activities in question are not conducted properly, then they could cause serious social or environmental damage (such as palm oil). In addition to the compulsory standards, we have also developed additional criteria that we encourage companies to comply with. The latter provides a good framework for further analysis and dialogue with companies.
We have another set of policies that commit us to exclude particular sectors or activities (tobacco, coal, controversial weapons or asbestos), as we deem them to be in violation of international norms, or to cause unacceptable harm to society and/or the environment, without counterbalancing benefits. These are generally sectors where engagement makes little sense.
We are committed to ensuring the consistent implementation of our Responsible Business Conduct policy to all open-ended funds managed or delegated by BNP Paribas Asset Management entities, but related exclusions are not currently applied to all client mandates. This is now the default approach for new mandates, and we will approach existing clients to seek their approval to apply the policy to existing mandates.
Affiliated entities over which BNP Paribas Asset Management or the BNP Paribas Group do not have operational control are invited to adopt this strategy and implement the components of our Responsible Business Conduct Policy. Where we use affiliates or external investment managers for our open-ended funds, we expect them to incorporate Responsible Business Conduct policies in line with our sustainable investment philosophy.
In applying our Responsible Business Conduct Policy, we take into account specific circumstances as they relate to the environmental, social and governance practices of individual issuers. BNP Paribas Asset Management bases its judgment on data gathered from issuers and third-party research providers, and does its best to gather relevant information. However, it is dependent on the quality, accuracy and timeliness of the information collected.
We strive to implement this Policy in the best interest of our clients and operate at arms' length from the BNP Paribas Group and its subsidiaries or affiliate companies.
Our Responsible Business Conduct Policy is publicly available on BNP Paribas Asset Management's website and is reviewed regularly in order to reflect the evolution of ESG standards and market practices.