‘A Successful Offloading of What Has Been a Difficult Asset’: ESG-inspired Disinvestment and the Communities Left Behind
Proponents of market-based solutions to social injustice argue that environmental, social, and governance integrated investing (‘ESG investing’) has been able to achieve what courts and legislatures worldwide have not: catalyse the rapid disinvestment from extractive industries infamous for human rights abuses. Critiques of ESG investing primarily make predictions about its impact on corporate conducts in the future. Little research exists linking ESG investing to contemporary community struggles for justice over past and continuing harms. Drawing on my work as a paralegal for the South African social movement Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA), and specifically my efforts supporting the Phola Community in its claims against multinational mining giant South32, I argue that ESG investing may decrease the likelihood that communities who have suffered due to corporate misconduct will have their livelihoods and homes restored or receive comparable redress.