Feb 26, 2009Avian flu detected in Vietnam, EnglandThe H5N1 virus struck poultry in another Vietnamese province, Dien Bien in the northern part of the country, raising the number of affected provinces to 11, Xinhua, China’s state news agency, reported today. Authorities culled about 1,460 ducks and destroyed more than 1,000 eggs to stop the spread of the virus. Elsewhere, British officials have detected avian influenza at two small Bernard Matthews turkey-breeding farms in England, but have so far ruled out H5 and H7 strains, the United Kingdom’s Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said today[Feb 26 Xinhua story][Feb 26 DEFRA press release]Czech lab incident updateNew details about H5N1-contaminated virus samples that caused a scare at a Czech Republic lab emerged today in a report from the Canadian Press (CP). The tainted Baxter International product was an “experimental virus material” that was supposed to contain the H3N2 virus. The product was distributed to an Austrian company to subcontractors in the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Germany. Officials continue to investigate.[Feb 26 CP story]Scientists share anthrax investigation findingsThe chemical components of the Bacillus anthracis spores sent in letters in the 2001 bioterrorism incidents don’t match the bacteria in a flask linked to Bruce Ivins, according to experts who presented their findings at an American Society for Microbiology biodefense meeting on Feb 24, Nature News reported yesterday. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI’s) Jason Bannan, however, said that spores from the flask could have been removed and grown under different conditions that exposed them to different chemicals. The FBI has alleged that Ivins, who committed suicide, mailed letters in 2001 that contained the deadly pathogen.[Feb 25 Nature News story]WHO says drug resistance could stonewall malaria controlParasite resistance to artemisinin detected at the Thailand-Cambodian border could undermine global efforts to control malaria, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement yesterday. The parasite can adapt more easily to monotherapies, so health officials have instead supported treating uncomplicated infections with a combination therapy containing artemisinin. The WHO said it has received a $22.5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help contain the spread of the resistant parasites.[Feb 25 WHO statement]White House orders homeland security reviewThe Obama administration issued its first presidential study directive (PSD) in Feb 23 ordering an interagency team to review how the White House coordinates its homeland security and counterterrorism capacities, Federal News Radio (FNR) reported yesterday. The White House has replaced homeland security directives with PSDs, FNR reported.[Feb 25 FNR story]E coli turns up in wells near outbreak siteSeventeen of 74 private wells in Locust Grove, Okla., tested positive for Escherichia coli, a pathogen that caused an outbreak linked to a local restaurant, the Tulsa World reported yesterday. The state’s attorney general has said poultry litter from area farms may have contaminated the restaurant’s water supply, which was found to contain poultry DNA earlier this month.[Feb 25 Tulsa World story]
“With the target deadline for achieving the SDGs only a decade away, the standardization of that assessment is critical,” he added.The launch follows MSCI’s collaboration in 2018 with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on a joint discussion paper, Institutional Investing for the SDGs, which was intended to spark discussion among stakeholders and market participants.The tool brings together MSCI’s framework covering more than 8,600 equity and fixed income issuers, with analysis of the full range of a company’s operations, products, services, policies and practices, to evaluate its net contribution to addressing the global challenges the UN SDGs aim to tackle.The tool allows for flexible use of its model towards specific impact investing goals or focused on specific alignment dimensions, powered by data inputs from MSCI ESG Research’s core research products.The model provides 17 SDG Net Alignment scores and assessments for each of the UN SDGs on a scale from ‘Strongly Aligned’ to ‘Strongly Misaligned’. The model also offers assessments on two dimensions – product alignment and operation alignment – for each company and for each of the 17 goals.2° Investing Initiative launches PACTA for BanksThe non-profit think tank 2° Investing Initiative (2DII) has launched PACTA for Banks, a free, open-source climate scenario analysis toolkit based on the Paris Agreement Capital Transition Assessment (PACTA) methodology.Developed with the input of leading global banks, universities, and NGOs, PACTA for Banks enables users to measure the alignment of their corporate lending portfolios with climate scenarios across key climate-relevant sectors and technologies.It represents a major step forward in climate scenario analysis for lending, by providing banks with insights into the alignment of their corporate clients’ capital stock and expenditure plans, 2DII said.Thanks to the toolkit, banks can get a granular view of the alignment of their corporate loan books by sector and related technologies, at both the corporate client and portfolio level.Banks can use this information to help steer their lending in line with climate scenarios; to inform their decisions around climate target-setting; and to gain insights into their engagement with clients on their respective climate actions.2DII also noted that the toolkit can also help banks identify their exposure to transition risks associated with a disruptive shift to a low-carbon economy.The think tank developed PACTA for Banks as a free-of-charge public good, in partnership with and funding from a range of stakeholders across the banking, academic, and NGO sectors.Over the course of the last two years, the toolkit has been road-tested by 17 global banks from Europe, North and South America – which include ABN AMRO, Barclays, BBVA, BNP Paribas, Citi, Credit Suisse, KBC, Nordea, Santander, Société Générale, UBS, and many others.The toolkit has also been reviewed by more than a dozen academic institutions and designed with the input of NGOs and industry experts. Contributing institutions include the Center of Economic Research at ETH Zurich and the research network Institut Louis Bachelier.The methodology, data, and software are available here.To read the digital edition of IPE’s latest magazine click here. MSCI has launched a tool to help investors assess their exposure and alignment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).The MSCI SDG Alignment Tool is designed to provide investors with a complete view of a company’s net contribution – both positive and negative – towards addressing each of the 17 UN SDGs.Remy Briand, head of ESG at MSCI, said: “There is increasing demand from investors to channel capital to help deliver on these goals, but the fragmented data around the extent to which a company’s products and operations are aligned to a particular SDG remains an obstacle.”He said through this new tool MSCI will aim to provide an additional layer of transparency for investors to better assess the merits of claims put forth by their portfolio companies.