UNPRI backs $33k ESG mainstreaming research awards, hires ex Railpen governance specialist

Meagan Thompson-Mann joins to lead PRI Clearinghouse and build governance library.

The United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment is sponsoring six new research awards, worth a total of $33,000, for the best academic papers on the theme of ‘mainstreaming responsible investment’. The awards are part of the PRI’s growth plans for its Academic Network, an on-line forum of 270 academics, investment practitioners and policy makers, which aims to strengthen cooperation between PRI signatories and the academic community. The deadline for submission of the research papers is 15 November, 2009 and the winners will be announced at the PRI Academic Network’s conference in Copenhagen in May next year. The PRI, whose signatories run assets in excess of $18 trillion (€12.7 trillion), said research papers for the awards could be submitted on the broad theme of mainstreaming responsible investment, or in the following specific areas:
1. Long-term investment and universal ownership
2. Shareholder engagement and its effectiveness
3. ESG alternatives among mainstream investors
4. Integration of ESG issues into mainstream investment
5. Responsible investment, market failure and regulatory responses
The papers will be judged by a high-profile panel of academics and investment professionals. The PRI Academic Network, which was launched in 2008 at a joint conference with the European Centre for Corporate Engagement at Maastricht University, will hold its secondannual meeting in Ottawa, Canada next week (October 1-3) in collaboration with The Carleton Centre for Community Innovation (3ci), one of Canada’s leading networks for social finance and community economic development. Separately, the PRI has hired Meagan Thompson-Mann, former corporate governance counsel for Railpen Investments, the investment arm of the UK’s sixth-largest pension fund, as its special advisor on corporate governance.
Thompson-Mann is a visiting research fellow at the Millstein Center for Corporate Governance and Performance in the US and is leading research on three initiatives: independent leadership of mutual fund boards; how proxy voting advisors and their institutional investor clients set, approve, and implement proxy voting guidelines and guard against conflicts of interest; and on the role of the independent chairman on corporate boards. At the PRI, she will oversee collaborative investor engagements on corporate governance issues organised through the PRI Clearinghouse, the on-line forum for collaborative investor lobbying on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. In 2008, the PRI said 37% of its Clearinghouse engagement postings were based on corporate governance issues. Thompson-Mann will also start the building of a PRI library on corporate governance as well as organising related webinars for PRI signatories.
For further information on the PRI Academic Research Awards: Link to

Marcel Jeucken, board member of the UNPRI will be speaking at RI’s Future of ESG Integration Conference in Amsterdam on November 11:
Link to conference information