ESG round-up: EU standards body outlines next steps as ESRS adopted

The latest developments in sustainable finance: GFANZ launches LatAm and Caribbean network; Germany and France to collaborate on sustainable finance issues.

EU standards body EFRAG has welcomed the final adoption of the first set of sector-agnostic European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS). The period for possible objection by the European Parliament and Council to the Delegated Act, adopted by the European Commission in July, ended on 21 October. EFRAG described this as “a milestone in the progress of quality sustainability reporting in the European Union and globally”. In the coming weeks, EFRAG will publish several sets of implementation guidance on key topics for public feedback. These will cover in particular materiality assessment, value chain and data points overview for gap analysis. It will also launch a “Q&A platform” to foster stakeholder dialogue, and support the understanding and implementation of the ESRS.

The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) has launched its Latin America and Caribbean network to support climate finance in the region. The organisation will look to help financial institutions with planning for the transition, implementing climate targets, building capacity, and engaging with policymakers on actions to accelerate capital mobilisation. The network will be guided by an advisory board, chaired by former executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, and composed of climate and finance figures from the region who will provide guidance and expertise in overseeing workplan and outputs. The work will be led by Alan Gómez, a senior member of the GFANZ secretariat.

The German government’s sustainable finance advisory board and France’s Institut de la Finance Durable have signed a memorandum of understanding to work together on sustainable finance issues. The two groups will establish a joint working group, and plan to work on joint position papers on sustainable finance regulation on the European level and for other international events. It will also organise joint conferences and prepare input papers for the French-German Council of Ministers.

Business for Nature is launching a global multi-year campaign next month that will run until 2030 to encourage and enable businesses and financial institutions to create credible nature strategies. At the launch, Business for Nature will also publish a handbook that will contain guiding questions and an overview of what should be included in a nature strategy. “The idea is this is a long-term campaign for businesses and financial institutions to set credible nature strategies and start delivering them – either as stand-alone strategies or as part of existing climate or sustainability strategies,” its CEO Eva Zabey told Responsible Investor. “This is about providing a common direction for all to begin or continue their journey towards a nature-positive future.” The immediate ask of firms will be to develop and publish nature strategies approved by the board or C-suite by COP16.

French auditing oversight body H3C has published the conclusions of a working group on the approval of training courses for the assurance of reports under the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). As part of the transposition of the text into French law, the government’s draft ordinance will require all auditors providing this assurance to complete a 90-hour training course, approved by the H3C, which will oversee the work. The working group has set out the necessary core skills to ensure that all professionals have an equivalent level of knowledge and has designed an accreditation process to recognise the training.

London CIV has announced plans to build a natural capital fund and has appointed consultant Redington to support the launch. Redington will advise London CIV’s private markets team as it builds out its natural capital investment vehicle over the coming months. The move follows London CIV’s launch of several sustainability funds over the past three years “to help its partner funds meet responsible investment, ESG and net-zero targets”. They include Global Alpha Growth Paris-Aligned Fund and Passive Equity Progressive Paris Aligned Fund in public markets, and among its private markets solutions are The London Fund, its Infrastructure Fund, Renewable Infrastructure Fund, and UK Housing Fund.

Australian investors including HESTA, AMP and Plato Investment Management, led by Australian Ethical, have written to the board of directors at cement company Boral urging them to keep to the company’s 1.5C 2030 emissions target. This followed the company’s announcement that it would be rolling back its 2025 commitment to reducing emissions from 18 percent to 12-14 percent. Australian Ethical, which is a shareholder in Boral, said it has become increasingly concerned about what it described as the new management team’s retreat on its climate transition plans.

Australia has shown progress on sustainable finance policy “driven by a step change in leadership” from the government, according to the Australian Sustainable Finance Institute’s annual progress tracker. The research found that the country is rapidly moving from laggard to “early follower”, due to various moves including introducing mandatory climate disclosure from next year, developing a sustainable finance taxonomy, and launching a framework for Australia’s first sovereign green bond issuance.

A group of NGOs including ShareAction and Reclaim Finance has launched a new sustainable power policy tracker to assess whether the 60 biggest global banks have the targets and policies in place to ensure a transition to decarbonised power. The research found that the biggest UK banks do not have the basic polices and financing targets to support the decarbonisation of the power sector. In addition, while two-thirds of the tracked banks have adopted targets for decarbonising power supplies, following the International Energy Agency’s Net Zero Emissions scenario, it also found that a significant increase in finance for sustainable power is required.

Investment manager Alquity has acquired the fund management group VAM Funds with the goal of shaking up the international advisory market’s ESG offering, tapping into the increasing global demand for sustainable investment strategies. Alongside VAM’s existing investment managers, Alquity will build out its ESG and impact funds platform, incorporating Alquity funds alongside other sustainable and impact offerings.