The issues related to antimicrobial resistance and spread of drug-resistant 'superbugs' pose serious risks to public health and the business landscape. We have engaged with our investees to discuss their strategy on antibiotic resistance.
We are always doing what we can to keep at the forefront of responsible investment, identifying emerging issue that are likely to impact on companies’ performance and the society in which they operate. When we spot an issue we will work to understand how an issue impacts on companies and society and engage with them either individually or collaboratively to deliver change.
Amongst these issues are antimicrobial resistance. Horror stories surrounding new strains of bacteria that prove resistant to antibiotic treatment would not be out of place in a Stephen King novel. But it isn’t just health that is at risk from the spread of drug-resistant ‘superbugs’: dangerously high levels of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) are projected to wipe $100 trillion off global output by 2050.
While the risks to public health and business from AMR are clearly worrisome, there are positive signs of more coordinated action between governments, industry, investors and the civil society. Investors, in particular, have a key role to play in engaging with companies to ensure they have robust policies in place and to encourage best practice.
We are proud to be a founding signatory to the Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return (FAIRR) investor initiative which has brought together a coalition of more than 74 institutional investors managing over $4.9 trillion. The coalition is calling for an end to the routine, non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in companies’ supply chains.
We have engaged collectively and individually with the companies we invest in, mainly in the pharma, food retailer and producers sectors to discuss their strategy on antibiotic resistance.
The most noteworthy outcome to date came with the announcement that McDonald’s would remove antibiotics that are critically important for human medicine from their global broiler chicken supply chain. We wrote to the CEO of McDonald’s to congratulate him on the significance of this milestone for McDonald’s and for the industry.
There has also been significant movement at an intergovernmental level, with the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) declaration on AMR being the landmark statement of intent.
We were honoured to be the only insurance and investment company invited to present at the Call to Action Conference. We also addressed the first ever investor conference in the US on antibiotic resistance in March 2017. The meeting was convened by FAIRR.