A flurry of activity descended upon Stockholm this week, with Nasdaq and Skytop Strategies hosting an ESG Integration Summit (NordSIP), which among other things contained an announcement for an ESG Reporting Pilot Program for Nasdaq’s Nordic and Baltic markets to be based on the voluntary ESG Reporting Guide. The Pilot Program is slated to run for one year starting September 1, and will be open to 10-16 companies of various sizes, market locations and business sectors (GlobeNewsWire). The ESG Integration Summit keynote speech was given by Arabesque Chairman and UN Global Compact Founder George Kell, who noted the recent acceleration of sustainable finance after many years of slow progress. “Something suddenly clicked,” Kell said. “We have now reached a point where it is possible to create real catalytic synergies” (NordSIP). Later, two different sessions explored gender diversity on boards and the evolution of nominating committees’ role. Niklas Ekvall, CEO at AP4 gives his perspective in a discussion with ISS Global Head of RI Strategy, Ulrika Hasselgren (NordSIP).
In addition, Swedish occupational pension plan manager Alecta hosted the HLEG seminar in Stockholm to discuss the EU High-Level Expert Group’s interim report on Sustainable Finance, published in July, and to gather perspectives for its final report due in 2018. Alecta CEO Magnus Billing is the only Swedish member of the HLEG (NordSIP). Notably, the non-profit independent platform Stockholm Green Digital Finance announced the launch of a blockchain-based solution for validating green investments, in partnership with Swedish asset manager Öhman and fintech startup Hiveonline. With the need among investors to identify reliable sustainable products with real impact potential, SGDF is aiming for a demonstration of green finance-related blockchain opportunities at the next IMF annual meeting.
Heard on E-Street
Asset Manager T. Rowe Price has hired Maria Drew, formerly of Goldman Sachs AM, as its new research director for responsible investment. The move is noteworthy as it reflects TRP’s integration of ESG analysis into investment decisions to a more holistic degree than previously, this despite already being a signatory to the UN PRI, Investor CDP and the UK Investor Forum (Investment Week).
Nordic investors, among them Nordea, Storebrand, KLP and DNB rejected allegations in a lawsuit against Greenpeace by Energy Transfer Partners LP, the operator of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, that they divested from the pipeline due to pressure from Greenpeace and other such groups, costing DAPL billions in damage (Reuters). The investors uniformly claimed their divestments were a result of their own due diligence: “We did not divest from ETP as the result of pressure from Greenpeace, and would have gladly communicated this to the company if they had returned our messages,” KLP’s head of RI Annie Bersagel said.
Quote of the Week
“There is no way that any NGO in the world could make Nordea ‘cave in’, as alleged by the plaintiff” – Sasja Beslik, Head of Sustainable Finance at Nordea Wealth Management, responding to the aforementioned ETP allegations that Greenpeace had pressured Nordea to divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline (Reuters).
Question of the Week
Which $1.95bn global investment manager divested $26 million in shares from fossil fuel companies earlier this year in one of the largest climate change-related divestments in history so far?
Famous Last Words
“While ratings agencies take a similar approach to one another in quantifying sustainability, they can arrive at very different conclusions for the same companies. Recognising that different approaches can result in different conclusions is vital for investors to understand before relying on the ratings as evidence of how sustainable a company or fund is” – Kames Capital Sustainable investment analyst Georgina Laird, on why it’s crucial for pension funds to recognise the differences in approach ratings agencies take (Professional Pensions).
Wishing you a happy weekend,
Your NordSIP team
Picture (c) – NosorogUA-shutterstock