When Italy meets SRI

A review of the Italian SRI Week, the main event on sustainable and responsible investment in Italy.

Italy can and has to do better, speakers at the third SRI Week in Italy told more than 1,000 participants who attended the ten scheduled events. The Italian SRI market is still largely dominated by traditional SRI strategies such as exclusions and norms-based screening, representing over 90% of Italian SRI AUM, and is heavily concentrated among a limited number of big institutional investors (99% of the market). However there are promising signs of interest, especially from institutional investors. Notably, a group of 14 Italian pension funds is engaging international asset managers on the integration of climate change related risks into the financing process, and companies are aware of the role of ESG to attract capital.
The SRI Week, promoted by the Italian Sustainable Investment Forum (Forum per la Finanza Sostenibile or FFS) and with partners including some of the main financial groups operating nationally and internationally – took place this year from November 4th to 12th. Many important goals were achieved for this third edition. First was the patronage and involvement of three important Ministries (Economy and Finance, Environment, Labour and Social Policy) as well as the support of the Italian Stock Exchange support for the final event, which included the Italian Sustainable Investor 2014 Award Ceremony.
Fondazione Cariplo, a private banking foundation with a strong philanthropic vocation managing over Eur5bn won the awardthis year. The jury said it appreciated Cariplo’s integration of sustainable and responsible investment strategies into the management of its proprietary assets. Also, two new Guidelines published by FFS were presented: one aimed at encouraging insurance companies to adopt of SRI practices, and the other addressed to real estate market operators, with the aim to promote the acceptance and adoption of responsible property management. The publications were developed by two multi-stakeholder working groups promoted and coordinated by FFS together with ANIA (the Italian insurance companies association) and Fondazione Riccardo Catella (an Italian foundation based in Milan, promoting best practices in architecture and territorial planning).
Other topics covered during this edition were finance and natural capital, with an event on impact investing and climate change organized in association with the Natural Capital Declaration (NCD). The 2014 SRI Week was also characterized by the effort to involve a larger audience through unconventional mediums such as theater and music, with a monologue on the financial crisis (Pop Economix) that attracted an audience of over 400 and a classical concerts program, accompanied by reflections on sustainable finance.

Pictures and video interviews from the Italian SRI week are available online at: www.settimanasri.it and www.finanzasostenibile