PRI founding Executive Director James Gifford steps down after 10 years at helm

“It is now time for me to take on the next big challenge”

James Gifford, the founding Executive Director of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the body which has grown to more than 1,200 signatories representing some $35trn in assets, is stepping down at the end of November.

Gifford has headed the PRI since the Principles were launched in 2006 by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Before that, from 2003-2006, he worked for UNEP Finance Initiative, in collaboration with the UN Global Compact, as lead project manager for the initiative, heading the process to develop and draft the PRI’s six principles.

Gifford said: “With the PRI now established as a global institution with a strong leadership team, it is well placed to go from strength to strength. It is now time for me to take on the next big challenge.”

The departure follows the abrupt resignation of PRI Association Chairman Wolfgang Engshuber earlier this year and ahead of the start of a new, more stringent reporting framework for signatories.But the PRI has boosted its executive ranks with the appointment of both Fiona Reynolds as managing director and the BT Pension Scheme’s Helene Winch as Director of Policy and Research.

PRI Association Board Chair Glen Saunders called Gifford a “visionary for the organisation and the responsible investment industry”.

He added: “He is leaving the PRI on a solid footing. We have a clear strategy, strong support in the industry, an experienced team, and a lot of momentum for delivering the PRI’s Mission”.

In a note to PRI signatories, Gifford said the initiative has established itself as the premier global institution on responsible investment: “The PRI brand carries a huge amount of weight in the investment industry and this, along with our growing work programme, will continue to create momentum for responsible investment into the future.”

The PRI Association’s Board and Advisory Council will meet in late September in advance of the PRI in Person event in Cape Town to discuss succession planning.