RI ESG Briefing, June 21: PRI teams up with Willis Towers Watson on megatrends research

The round-up of the latest ESG developments.


Sweden’s national assembly, the Riksdag, has passed a “historic” climate policy framework submitted with cross-party support by Government. The framework, which includes the establishment of both new climate goals and a climate policy council, will enter in to effect from the 1 January 2018. Under the new framework, which aims “to create order and stability in climate policy”, the Government is required to submit a climate report to the Riksdag and draw up a climate action plan for each electoral period. 

Countries are progressing too slowly on green growth – particularly when international trade emissions are considered – according to a new report by the OECD. The Green Growth Indicators 2017 report ranks 46 countries according to their balancing of economic growth with environmental pressures. It found that Denmark, Estonia, the UK, Italy, and Slovakia have made the most progress since 2000 but no country is performing well on all green growth dimensions.

The European Union’s Council, comprised of ministers from each members’ government, has reiterated its commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and has called upon other UN member states and all stakeholders, including civil society and the private sector, to contribute to its implementation and promotion. In its response, the Council also warned of a lack of public engagement and urged for action to raise awareness among EU citizens.

Seventy one percent of institutional investors and independent financial advisors expect to see a rise in renewable energy investment over the next three years – rising to 75% over the next five years, according to UK renewable energy firm Renewable Energy Waste Solutions (REWS). The biggest driver identified for this anticipated rise was the belief that the political and social environment has become more favourable.


Austrian infrastructure bank Kommunalkredit Austria AG is reportedly planning to issue a ‘Social Covered Bond’ to finance and re-finance infrastructure projects in Europe, with a special focus on projects supporting education, healthcare, and social housing. The SDG aligned bond, which was approved by ESG research house Sustainalytics, will be issued under the bank’s Base Prospectus, a €800,000,000 Debt Issuance Programme.

A new report by the Toniic Institute, the non-profit impact investment advocacy group, aims to redress the “sparse” information on impact intermediaries available to investors and their advisors despite the growth of the industry. The report ‘T100: Insights from Impact Advisors and Consultants 2017’ is the product of a collaboration of between impact intermediaries from 12 countries and members of Toniic’s 100% Impact Network, the global peer-to-peer network of asset owners who have committed 100% of their assets to positive social and/or environmental impact.

The Islamic Development Bank and the United Nations Development Programme have created a new Islamic finance orientated impact investing platform. The Global Islamic Finance and Impact Investing Platform (GIFIIP) is intended to serve as a “knowledge hub” for the Islamic finance sector aimed at mobilising its “untapped” potential to help meet the massive financial resources needed to achieve the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.h6. Governance

The Principles of Responsible Investment has teamed up with Willis Towers Watson to work on a project to produce a report on megatrends. The PRI is commissioning the firm to produce a report that examines how megatrends could impact the financial system and the risks and opportunities for investors in terms of asset allocation, portfolio management, integration and active ownership.

State Street has reportedly called on the Securities and Exchange Commission to block companies from adopting controversial voting structures used by Facebook, Alphabet and Snap. The world’s third-largest asset manager, the FT said, has concerns that they concentrate power in the hands of founders and weaken shareholder rights.

ShareAction is to launch the Workforce Disclosure Initiative where investors will send out surveys to their holding companies with detailed questions on their workforce such as the gender pay gap and how they train people. Speaking at RI Europe this month, CEO Catherine Howarth said the initiative was gathering pace with an investor coalition of £2trn AUM already signed up. It will be officially launched later this month.

Fidelity Investments was one of five investors that demanded the resignation of Travis Kalanick as CEO of ride-hailing service Uber, according to the New York Times. It said the other investors were Benchmark, First Round Capital, Lowercase Capital and Menlo Ventures and Fidelity Investments. All told, they hold more than 25% of Uber’s shares (and 40% voting power), the Times said. It added that the investors couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The US Supreme Court has ruled in favour of Chevron in a dispute with Ecuadorean villagers over a $8.65bn pollution judgment issued against the oil giant by an Ecuadorean court, Reuters reports. The unsuccessful appeal was led by New York-based lawyer Steven Donziger, who has spent decades trying to hold Chevron responsible for pollution in the Ecuadorean rainforest.

Meetyl, the US corporate access platform provider, has announced an updated version of its platform CG Direct – originally launched in February 2017. The expanded CG Direct 2.0 claims to offer companies a more detailed insight into the activities of shareholders. Meetyl, founded by former Wall Street investor Jeffrey Tha, was acquired by US proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis in 2014.

Barclays and four of its former Senior Executives have been charged with fraud by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office in relation to fundraising activities conducted with Qatari investors in 2008 during the financial crisis. Former CEO John Varley has been charged along with former senior figures Roger Jenkins, Thomas Kalaris, and Richard Boath.

RELX Group, the UK listed global provider of information and analytics, has launched a Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) dedicated news and information resource to raise awareness of the UN’s ambitious Agenda 2030. Supported by the United Nations Global Compact and the United Nations Development Programme, the platform will offer resources such as articles, reports, tools, webinars, and practical legal guidance. Link

Plaintiffs firms earned almost $1bn in fees from 2016 securities class action settlements, according to a report in American Lawyer citing ISS’s Securities Class Action Services. It said settlements in 13 securities class actions that came to points of resolution made it onto an annual list of the top 100 securities settlements of all time.