Since inception, Boston Common has taken a multi-pronged approach to engaging companies on emerging systemic and company level issues. This involves considering broad stakeholder perspectives and using various engagement tactics to target the corporate, regulatory, and global standard-setting bodies likely to drive change.
Indigenous Communities & Transition Minerals
We are mindful of the often-quoted phrase: “The only road to net zero runs through Indigenous Lands.” In impacted communities, we prioritize stakeholder engagement with Indigenous leaders, and frequently call on companies who source transition minerals (lithium, nickel, cobalt, copper, aluminum) to mandate Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) when considering projects on Indigenous lands. In instances where companies are granted license to operate on Indigenous Lands, we work to ensure that companies are promoting inclusive practices with economic development opportunities for residents. We actively seek investments in materials inputs that lessen dependence on transition minerals (e.g., cobalt-free lithium-ion batteries).
The solar industry has many potentially harmful environmental and health impacts that are often overlooked or underrepresented in corporate reporting. Mindful of this, we assumed a leadership role in the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition’s (SVTC) creation of the Solar Scorecard in 2009. In 2021, Boston Common joined forces with SVTC, Clean Production Action, and Investor Environmental Health Network to launch an investor engagement on chemical safety in the solar supply chain. The engagement led to the creation of an Ultra-Low Carbon Solar standard, expected to be published in 2023. Our deep knowledge on this topic, informed by stakeholder dialogues over time, supports various ongoing company dialogues with solar producers (First Solar, Trina Solar), purchasers of solar components (global electronics companies, electric battery manufacturers, car manufacturers), and electric utilities companies reliant on the solar energy production (Consolidated Edison).
We encouraged northeast utility company Eversource to articulate its approach to a just transition that prioritizes workers and communities on the front lines of the climate crisis. In an ongoing engagement with Eversource, Boston Common included a broad range of stakeholder perspectives—including labor unions advocating for high road jobs, energy burdened communities, and environmental nonprofits that assessed the risk of Eversource’s outdated gas pipeline infrastructure. Boston Common works closely with local policy makers and community advocates to ensure utility companies are moving to decrease the environmental burden and prioritize equitable and affordable electrification. The team encouraged Eversource to adopt a Just Transition strategy like SSE’s. Eversource committed to reference Just Transition in its upcoming sustainability report.
Commitment to Responsible Stakeholder Engagement
Across all our efforts, we are cognizant of the growing debate about best practices in responsible stakeholder engagement. We continue to support the work of ICCR on responsible stakeholder engagement, and we rely on collaborative engagements to limit the burden on any single group, while ensuring that their perspectives are not lost in corporate dialogues.