Divestment and Social Change — QUT Research Symposium — 22 November 2016

QUT Intellectual Property and Innovation Law Research Program

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Research Symposium

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

12:00 pm — 2:30 pm AEST

Presenters in this symposium will explore the social, financial, and legal debates regarding the rise of divestment movements around public health, climate change and asylum seeker detention centres.

In the field of public health, there has been a push to encourage governments, pension funds, and superannuation to divest from tobacco companies. Similarly, in the area of environment and climate change, the fossil fuel divestment movement has come to the fore. In the field of human rights, there is interest in the use of divestment strategies as a means to disrupt investment in companies profiting from offshore detention centres. There has been discussion about the use of divestment in respect of other fields of activity — such as in relation to armaments and munitions.

The symposium will provide a cross-disciplinary, scholarly consideration of the politics of divestment, featuring experts from law, business, and civil society.

SESSION 1: Ethical Investment Chair: Carol Richards

James Thier, Future Super Ethical Investment

James is a director of Future Super and member of its investment committee. He is a founder and Chair of Corporate Analysis Enhanced Responsibility (CAER), a highly regarded, independent ESG research house.He co-founded ASX-listed Australian Ethical Investment and was an executive director for 20 years, creating world-first product innovations. Prior he held senior positions within peak bodies of the credit union and worked in local government and academia.An inaugural board member of what is now the Responsible Investment Association of Australasia (RIAA), an industry body, James is recognised as a pioneer in the field. He was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2006.

Shen Narayanasamy, No Business in Abuse, GetUp Detention, Human Rights, and Divestment

No Business in Abuse (NBIA) focus upon corporate complicity in abuses within Australia’s immigration system. NBIA and Get Up have formed a partnership to power a broad, people-powered movement to shine a light on the corporations making money from an abusive detention centre system, and to take practical actions to end it.

Brynn O’Brien, Business and Human Rights Advisor, The Australia Institute The Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund and Human Rights

Brynn O’Brien is a lawyer and researcher, looking at the human rights impacts of the private sector. She has worked across a broad range of issues and industry sectors where human rights and business activity collide, from labour issues in the supply chain to anti-discrimination matters and human rights issues in immigration detention. Brynn is an expert on the effective implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the power of international frameworks as tools for advocacy. She is involved in shaping the business and human rights field in Australia and abroad through her membership of various multistakeholder groups, involvement in regional capacity building initiatives, and academic research and writing.

Matthew Rimmer, QUT Tobacco Divestment

Dr Matthew Rimmer is a Professor in Intellectual Property and Innovation Law at the Faculty of Law, at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). He is a leader of the QUT Intellectual Property and Innovation Law research program, and a member of the QUT Digital Media Research Centre (QUT DMRC) the QUT Australian Centre for Health Law Research (QUT ACHLR), and the QUT International Law and Global Governance Research Program. Rimmer has published widely on copyright law and information technology, patent law and biotechnology, access to medicines, plain packaging of tobacco products, intellectual property and climate change, and Indigenous Intellectual Property.

SESSION 2: Fossil Fuel Divestment Chair: Matthew Rimmer

Carol Richards, QUT Divestment as a New Social Movement

Dr Carol Richards Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow in the QUT Business School. As an environmental sociologist, Carol specialises in food security, sustainable food and natural resources and governance. Her recent work focuses on fossil fuel divestment, presenting critical insights into the enactment of climate justice through market mechanisms. Carol draws upon social movement theory to examine the game-changing strategies of the globally-coordinated fossil fuel divestment movement.

Robyn Mayes, QUT Divestment and Neoliberal Logics

Dr Robyn Mayes is a Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow in the QUT Business School. Robyn’s current research is concerned with the development and theorisation of global production networks, inclusive of questions of labour agency, corporate social responsibility, local community/ies, gender and senses of place. Her work on fossil fuel divestment explores how the divestment movement achieves its aims in disrupting flows of capital around the fossil fuel industry, but in doing so, reproduces neoliberalizing logics by reinforcing a shift away from the state as the key corporate regulator.

Carly Baque, Fossil Free QUT Fossil Fuel Divestment and Higher Ed

Carly is an undergraduate law and economics student at QUT. She is currently a co-coordinator of Fossil Free QUT and is involved in the broader community with the Divest from Detention movement and a local renewable energy co-op in West End, Energetic Communities Association Inc. Carly has also been nominated to speak at the 2017 QUT TEDX event about the future of the fossil fuel divestment movement.”

Moira Williams Fossil Fuel Divestment — Councils, Cities, and Governments

Originally from Sydney, Moira started her career as an ecologist, policy maker and strategist. Her growing passion is to empower people to challenge corporate power and take action for social change. She has been actively involved in grassroots campaigns fighting coal and gas projects across the country for a decade. She has spent the last couple of years working in Northern Queensland to build peaceful resistance to the proposed Galilee basin coal mines, and is now based in Brisbane working as a community campaigner with 350.org — a global network of groups working for climate justice.

This forum is a collaboration between Professor Matthew Rimmer, QUT Faculty of Law and Drs Robyn Mayes and Carol Richards of the Work/Industry Futures program, QUT Business School.

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