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Peace, Social Justice and Integrity of Creation

Intel inside, safe water outside: Intel recognizes the human right to water

The following article was posted on the listservs of the Social Investment Forum and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.

On the eve of World Water Day (March 22, 2010), Boston portfolio management company NorthStar Asset Management, Inc. is pleased to announce successful negotiations with Intel Corporation on the creation of an official Intel policy that supports the human right to water. Intel Corp. is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of semiconductor chips, the creation of which requires the ongoing use of large amounts of water.

“This agreement moves beyond the vague promises of water conservation that many corporations purport,” says Julie Goodridge, CEO of NorthStar Asset Management, Inc. “It fully commits the company to respecting the human right to sufficient clean water, as well as individuals’ rights to be involved in the development of processes that extract water from their communities.”

In a post on their Corporate Social Responsibility blog, Intel’s Global Environmental Manager wrote that agreeing to this policy “…was simply the smart and right thing to do.” Intel is the first chip manufacturer to take this bold step, indicating a progressive commitment to the well-being of the communities across the globe where they operate.

Experts in water rights from the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) helped NorthStar create a shareholder resolution aimed at urging Intel and other global and local corporations to recognize that their policies around water and water use are not simply manufacturing issues, but ethical ones. To address the multi-faceted nature of water scarcity, NorthStar and UUSC based their proposed policy on the principles expressed in the United Nations’ definition of the human right to water: the safety, sufficiency, acceptability, physical accessibility, and affordability of water.

By voluntarily agreeing to respect individuals’ human right to water, Intel is furthering its already-established corporate commitment to water conservation. In addition, as part of their promise to “consider the impact on water throughout all stages in [their] operations,” Intel affirms its commitment to open communication and engagement on an ongoing basis with the communities in which it operates.

As Intel stated, it is simply the smart and right thing to do.

The policy in full can be viewed online here.

NorthStar Asset Management, Inc. is a wealth management firm based in Boston, specializing in socially responsible wealth management.

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