Jane Enid Nganzi Murungi
Osgoode Hall Law School (Visiting Researcher)
North-West University (Potchefstroom campus) South Africa
My Interest in Business Ethics
Academic - PhD Student
Areas of Interest
Development ; Economic - Environmental ; Economic - Social ; Globalization ; SRI/Responsible Investment ; Sustainability
Me in Brief
I am interested in the business ethics underlying financial institutions’ implementation of sustainable development. Some financial institutions both international and private are already incorporating their understanding of sustainable development. They, for instance, are conducting due diligence of selected projects which might have adverse impacts on the environment or society; or are creating new products which they believe incorporate social and environmental criteria that adequately meets sustainability requirements. Many have however criticised the efforts as being largely self interested and in pursuit only of profits. Hence, my interest to understand what role law could play to engender business ethics in financial institutions’ implementation of sustainable development.
My current research is on my doctoral thesis entitled “Sustainable development and environmental regulation through financial institutions: a South African legal perspective” This research asks what the international, constitutional and legislative mandate for sustainable development for banks in South Africa is, and queries the extent to which law could be used to attain sustainable investment practices, with specific regard to project financing and corporate lending. To that end, it investigates how banks presently apply the concept of sustainable development and how it could or should be understood in relation to financial institutions. It will look into the role banks currently play and could play to promote sustainable development and suggests policies and strategies they (and government) could employ to facilitate that role. It studies what existing principles and guidelines instruct banks to do, and determine whether some or all of these could regarded as international law which would influence the South African definition of sustainable development found in the National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998 and National Framework for Sustainable Development. Presently, the Equator Principles, the UNEP Finance Initiative are the most actively used code and forum, respectively, currently facilitating socially responsible investment for financial institutions.
Recently launched in a collaboration between the UNEP Finance Initiative and the United Nations Global Compact, and quickly gathering momentum are the Principles for Responsible Investment. The implementation of the codes by financial institutions participating in the named forums is having a direct implication on the character and nature of sustainable development, as the contested concept gets defined and shaped within the scope of implementation, priorities and parameters of the financial institutions’ determinations.
This research will analyse and reflect upon the legal implications of a largely self-regulated, voluntary application of sustainable development by financial institutions. The research is done in the interest of reducing banks’ exposure to risk for non-compliance as well as increasing their participation and influence in attaining sustainable development in South Africa as required by the republic’s constitution. To that end, the research will suggest law (informal and formal) which could be effectively utilised as a tool to activate behavioural change in banks to attain sustainable development.
Lastly, the research will study sustainable banking law and practice in Europe, Germany, United Kingdom, and USA to establish what lessons there are for financial institutions in South Africa in environmental sustainable development.