The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) is set to propose a series of structural shakeups to create more opportunities and resources for signatories at regional levels to its board, according to CEO David Atkin. 

Atkin made the comments on the Frankly Speaking podcast earlier this week in a discussion about the next phase of the network’s existence, following the recent close of a consultation on the topic. 

Dubbed “PRI in a Changing World”, the consultation aimed to explore issues around “the future of responsible investment”, the PRI’s “vision, mission and purpose”, and the value it provides to signatories.

In September, the network kicked off the first round with a series of signatory conversations. Then in November, it opened an online formal consultation survey, which closed at the end of January.

The next step is for the PRI’s board to meet in the coming weeks, when it will review the formal consultation feedback and consider proposals presented by the executive team based on signatory feedback gathered through the consultation. The board will then agree on next steps.

Following this, the PRI will share the board’s formal response on what the new strategy will look like, as well as a summary and full breakdown of the survey responses. The network will then begin implementing the strategy.

During Wednesday’s interview, Atkin flagged some of the proposals that will likely be put forward, based on signatory suggestions.

“I think what you’ll see is we’ll pivot the governance to create more opportunities for regional groups to identify their priorities and input that into the overall decision-making,” he said. “I think you’ll see more resources of the PRI deployed into regions. We’ve already been doing that, but it’s going to be extended.” 

Earlier in the discussion, Atkin noted: “The idea that there is a global organisation that brings investors together to work on responsible investment is a powerful idea that’s as compelling as ever. However, there’s also a need to recognise that there is no one way to be a responsible investor or to apply your approach to ESG or sustainable finance. Context matters.

“So the PRI needs to have more flexibility in recognising regional differences and having programmes that work and forums that bring those regions together without losing the ability to bring people together on a global basis because that’s really the powerful, compelling value proposition for the PRI.”

When Responsible Investor spoke with signatories during the first phase of the consultation, several mentioned that it could be beneficial for the PRI to take a more regional approach, particularly in relation to its signatory reporting framework.

Last month, the network relaunched the framework after a hiatus. While no regional element has been created for the new framework, its chief reporting officer Cathrine Armour told RI it is “looking at where signatories are reporting from, and what jurisdictions signatories are within”.

She added: “I do agree there’s an advantage to taking a more regionalised approach, and that’s certainly something we will look into as the reporting framework stabilises as it will give us the opportunity to look at how we develop specifically within the regions.”

On this week’s podcast, Atkin also hinted at “more ambition on the policy front” from the PRI, as well as the introduction of various voluntary pathways for progression. “If you are a member of the PRI you must progress overtime, you cannot stay static.” 

He concluded: “I think the organisational structure will change to support the new strategy.”