ESG round-up: IIGCC and Ceres to form secretariat for Nature Action 100

The latest developments in sustainable finance: Paul Watchman joins ESG Regulatory Solutions; attorneys general reach settlement with Google.

The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) and sustainability advocacy non-profit Ceres have been selected to form the secretariat for Nature Action 100, the biodiversity equivalent to Climate Action 100+. The IIGCC and Ceres will be responsible for setting up the initiative’s steering group, as well as supporting administrative and fundraising efforts. They will also lead on developing a multi-year engagement plan targeting companies which are deemed most important to reducing biodiversity loss. The Finance for Biodiversity Foundation and financial thinktank Planet Tracker will co-lead the initiative’s technical advisory group, which will develop science-based investor guidance. The group of launching investors includes AXA Investment Managers, Columbia Threadneedle Investments, BNP Paribas Asset Management, Church Commissioners for England, Domini Impact Investments, Federated Hermes Limited, Karner Blue Capital, Robeco, Storebrand Asset Management, Christian Brothers Investment Services, and Vancity Investment Management.

Paul Watchman has been announced as co-founder and chief legal officer at ESG Regulatory Solutions. The company was launched in August by Thomas Harding, former global head of regulatory solutions at ISS ESG. Watchman will continue in his role as special legal adviser at the UNEP Principles of Sustainable Development Net Zero Insurance Alliance and Finance Initiative. He is also a professor at the University of Glasgow and the University of Aberdeen.

Forty attorneys general have reached a $392 million multistate settlement with Google over its location and tracking practices. The settlement, led by the attorneys general of Oregon and Nebraska, requires Google to increase transparency with consumers over its practices. The company must show additional information to users whenever they turn a location-related account “on” or “off”, make key information about location tracking unavoidable for users and give users detailed information about the types of location data the company collects. In response to the settlement, a spokesperson from Google said: “Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation, which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago.”

A Just Transition poses a unique set of risks, opportunities and challenges to sovereigns and corporates in emerging markets, according to a report by Moody’s. Among the findings, the rating agency suggests the carbon transition will likely be more difficult for EM sovereigns, because of “typically higher exposure to social risks, weaker governance, and lower financial buffers”. In addition, it notes, companies in emerging markets are generally not well prepared to “manage reorganisation and professional development for workforces, or social and economic development for local communities”.

On the topic of Just Transition, the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) has launched a working group to support efforts to mobilise private capital towards Indonesia’s Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP), which was announced at COP27 on Tuesday. According to a press release, the initial working group members – Bank of America, Citi, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Macquarie, MUFG and Standard Chartered – “have been working with partners in support of the Indonesian JETP by identifying barriers to sourcing the necessary private investment, advocating for the reforms necessary to address those barriers, and identifying approaches that could help crowd in private finance at scale”.

New Zealand has issued NZ$3 billion ($1.85 billion) of sovereign green bonds. The New Zealand sovereign green bond programme, which was launched in September, “will finance or refinance public sector projects, already planned or underway, that support our climate change and environmental priorities”, according to deputy prime minister Grant Robertson. The 12-year bonds will pay a coupon of 4.25 percent.

Asset manager First Sentier Investors (FSI) has received its certification as a B Corporation, a global certification obtained if a company meets high social and environmental performance standards, transparency and accountability. B Corp companies require a minimum of 80 points to obtain certification and are assessed every three years to verify that they are continuing to meet the standard. FSI achieved a score of 107.2.