RI People & Appointments, May 3: UNFCCC, APG, AP4, GAMCO, Vigeo-Eiris, ET Index

The latest ESG movers and shakers

Patricia Espinosa, Mexico’s ambassador to Germany, has been named as the new Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – taking over from Christiana Figueres. In her current post since September 2013, Espinosa has worked in several positions in the foreign ministry, focusing on multilateral organizations and global issues, and at the Mexican representation at the United Nations in New York for drug trafficking, human rights, social development, women promotion and children’s rights. As Foreign Minister, she chaired the 2010 Climate Change Conference (COP16), for which she was awarded the German Sustainability Prize in 2012.

Angelien Kemna, Chief Finance & Risk Officer of Dutch pension investor APG Group, has been voted onto the board of French insurance giant AXA. Kemna, the former CEO at ING Investment Management Europe, also chairs Yellow and Blue, a Dutch venture capital firm focused on renewable energy. Also joining the AXA board is Irene Dorner, the former President and CEO of HSBC USA.

Sarah McPhee has been named chair of Fjarde AP-fonden (AP4), the SEK310bn (€33.75bn) fourth Swedish National Pension Fund. She replaces Monica Caneman, AP4’s chair since 2008. “AP4 has had very good returns for many years and works strategically in investments to meet global challenges such as climate change,” McPhee said. She was most recently CEO of SPP and before that was vice president and investment manager at AMF.

Christina Alfandary has re-joined GAMCO Investors, the New York-listed asset manager with $38.7bn under management, as Managing Director, ESG & Sustainable Investments. It said the new role reflects its view that “global economic drivers continue to be affected by resource scarcity and that client demand for ESG solutions will continue to grow”. She was most recently Co-Head of the Americas and Senior Managing Director for Nikko Asset Management Americas, which she joined from GAMCO, where she focused on Institutional and High Net Worth marketing.

Erik Solheim, the former Norwegian government minister for the environment is being heavily tipped to become the next head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The body, whose affiliate organisations include UNEP FI, its sustainability finance initiative, will reportedly name Solheim as head this week with the rank of assistant secretary general, according to Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). Solheim, who held ministerial positions in Norway’s former left-center government, is presently head of the development committee for the OECD. If announced, Solheim will follow Achim Steiner, who has been Executive Director of UNEP since 2006, following two four-year terms and an additional two-year mandate.

Georg Thoma has abruptly resigned as head of the board Integrity Committee at Deutsche Bank. In a statement, Chairman Paul Achleitner thanked him but did not give a reason for the resignation – though press reports claim Thoma had feuded with Achleitner’s deputy Alfred Herling over the extent to which the bank should investigate its past scandals.

Wouter Koelewijn has been appointed Global Liaison for Europe for the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), focusing on the Benelux region. Koelewijn, most recently a senior innovation manager with Dutch pension asset manager PGGM, will be based in Amsterdam. He joins Zurich-based European Liaison Ingo Weber and India-based South Asia Liaison Anil Sinha. The GIIN, a not-for-profit organization focused on promoting impact investing, is also currently planning to add a Liaison for East Africa.Paul Hewitt is now a Senior Business Development Manager in Vigeo-Eiris’ Global Markets Division, where he will be supporting investment managers and asset owners with solutions for their increasingly sophisticated research needs. Before Vigeo Eiris, Hewitt was at Manifest, the global proxy voting agency, where he was Business Development Manager for 12 years. Sarah Wilson, CEO at Manifest, said Sheila Stefani, formerly of Boudicca and Eiris, has joined as Stewardship support manager. She said: “Sheila’s experience and qualifications are an excellent fit for the team.” She added: “We wish Paul well, we look forward to working with him in his new role as the ESG and governance community have a great deal in common. This is an exciting opportunity for Paul and after over a decade with us we completely respect his desire to work within the SRI space.”

Chris Huhne, the former UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, has been appointed co-chair of ET Index, the carbon index firm, alongside Climate Change Capital founder James Cameron. “ET Index is an exciting and unusual company because it promises unusually high benefits for its clients and shareholders while improving the chances of humanity’s survival on the planet,” said Huhne, a former journalist who was vice-chairman of Fitch Ratings. Cameron is on the board of the Overseas Development Institute and is an advisor to the Climate Bonds and Carbon Tracker Initiatives. He is a trustee member of the UK Green Building Council and until 2016 a trustee for the CDP. The firm is also hiring for other senior positions.

Sune Schackenfeldt has joined Pædagogernes Pensionskasse (PBU), a DKK55bn (€7.4bn) Danish pension fund for educators, as its new chief executive. Schackenfeldt replaces Leif Brask-Rasmussen, who has resigned. Prior to joining PBU, Schackenfeldt worked for seven years at Danish commercial pension provider PFA as a Director. PBU is one of Denmark’s several responsible investors, choosing only those companies that, for example, uphold the UN Global Compact.

Neil Slater has been appointed CEO and Representative Director of Standard Life Investments’ new Tokyo office. He was previously a fund manager within its global real estate team. Mikifumi Watanabe has been named Vice Chairman of Standard Life Investments (Japan) Ltd., reporting to Slater, having joined the company as a Senior Advisor in 2015. Link

The chief executives of two Icelandic pension funds have reportedly quit after being embroiled in the Panama Papers tax scandal. IPE reported that Kári Arnór Kárason and Kristjáns Arnar Sigurðssonar of the Stapi and Sameinaði funds respectively, stepped down after an investigation by state TV.

Mark Widmar, the current chief financial officer at First Solar, the Nasdaq-listed photovoltaic firm, has been appointed CEO. He will take over from James Hughes, who plans to step down as CEO as of June 30. Hughes will continue as an advisor and remain on the board. Alexander Bradley, the firm’s Vice President of Treasury and Project Finance, becomes interim CFO.

ShareAction chief executive Catherine Howarth has been appointed an ambassador for the Transparency Task Force, a group campaigning for greater transparency in financial services globally.

Dr. Tauni Lanier has been named Executive Director of IMPACT 2030, the only private sector-led initiative with the United Nations and other stakeholders to unite companies in their corporate volunteering efforts on the Sustainable Development Goals. She founded and has been Managing Partner of the EcoCapital partnership since 2007 – having earlier in her career been the first Managing Director of the Dow Jones Sustainability Group Index and subsequently, Senior Project Manager for the Sustainable Development Reporting Project with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.