ESG round-up: ADB launches $15bn climate finance initiative

The latest developments in sustainable finance: World Bank revamps business climate rankings; Investment Association launches DE&I data collection survey.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has announced a new initiative to create up to $15 billion in climate financing across the region, including for the bank’s high-profile coal decommissioning fund. Under the Innovative Finance Facility for Climate in Asia and the Pacific (IF-CAP), six partner countries will provide $3 billion in guarantees for parts of ADB’s sovereign loan portfolios to free up capital for climate projects. The Japan-led development bank said this is the first leveraged guarantee mechanism of its kind, and will be supported by the UK, the US, Korea, Sweden, Denmark and Japan.

The World Bank has relaunched its flagship rankings on business climate after concerns around data irregularities led it to scrap a previous iteration in September 2021. The rankings will incorporate sustainability indicators – such as environmental protection –  worker welfare, carbon pricing, and gender equality, and will inform the World Bank’s decision-making at country level.

The Investment Association (IA) and Thinking Ahead Institute have launched a campaign to collect better data on DE&I across the investment management industry. In a survey sent to the IA’s 250 members, firms have been asked to provide data on a range of employee attributes including gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation, as well as socioeconomic background and neurodiversity. The survey will also ask about the type of diversity data currently being gathered by the industry and how often they’re collecting this information. Deadline for responses is 7 June.

Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) has excluded GAIL India and Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS) from the Government Pension Fund Global. The exclusions are based on the companies’ business collaboration with an organisation affiliated with the military in Myanmar, NBIM added. The decision is based on a recommendation from the Council on Ethics.

NorthStar Asset Management has engaged with manufacturing company Xylem to establish a fair chance employment programme. The manager originally filed a shareholder resolution at the company in November last year. Xylem will launch its employment programme at two US locations this year, with a goal to scale to other manufacturing locations in 2024. The programme aims to recruit former convicts into the Xylem talent pool. Fair chance employment practices – also referred to as “second chance hiring” – allow applicants with prior arrest or incarceration records to be fairly considered for employment without a criminal history bias. NorthStar has filed similar fair chance employment proposals this proxy season at Adobe, Badger Meter and Idex Corporation.

US non-profit As You Sow has launched a proxy voting policy platform for retail investors to further democratise voting. In partnership with iconik – a media fintech – individual investors can have their shares automatically voted to match As You Sow’s voting guidelines. The platform will be free to use for investors.