The Week in Green (March 23rd edition)

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Where the Nordics Rank in Sustainability

This week saw the publication of the Independent Research in Responsible Investment (IRRI) 2017 survey. The report, conducted by Mike Tyrell, editor of SRI-connect.com, asked carefully targeted questions to 1,136 verified SRI, corporate governance and investment professionals and IR and CSR managers from listed companies. NordSIP took a closer look at the Nordic scores and distils the good, the bad and the ugly. We see quite some room for improvement in our category. To follow up on Storebrand’s new fossil-free index tracker launch last week, NordSIP also spoke to portfolio manager Lars Qvigstad Sørensen, and asked him what makes his fund different from its peers. Let’s hope next year’s IRRI ranking will reward such efforts.

Meanwhile, Nordea AB’s sustainable investment unit has temporarily blacklisted Facebook following the revelations about the social media company’s abuse and release of user data to Cambridge Analytica, a company that helped win the 2016 U.S. presidential election for Donald Trump with Facebook data of 50 million Americans. Nine investors worth a combined €2 trillion, including the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund, Storebrand Asset Management and Nordea Investment Management, are joining forces with the UN Environment Finance Initiative to promote action on climate reporting in the investor community. They will follow guidelines provided by the Financial Stability Board Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, chaired by Michael Bloomberg.

In other news, Netherlands-based ESG research and rating provider Sustainalytics completed a transaction to purchase assets from fellow research provider Solaron Sustainability Services. Solaron is renowned for its expertise in Emerging Markets, adding that dimension to Sustainalytics’ research with the 26 Solaron professionals joining Sustainalytics effective immediately. Finally, Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate Isabella Lövin spoke to Swedish business daily Dagens Industri about the challenges facing businesses as the Swedish Climate Act, which stipulates zero carbon emissions by 2045, treads into effect. “So far, we have built prosperity and development by destroying the planet, but now we have to do the opposite,” she said (NordSIP).

Heard on E-Street

Index provider MSCI is also reviewing the Facebook data privacy issue, although Facebook already is not seen as a high performer on ESG issues relative to its peers, MSCI said (U.S. World Report and News). Insight Investment, a founding signatory to the UN PRI, wrote to 28 banks across developed and emerging markets urging them to consider green bond issuance. Insight itself added 43 green bonds to client portfolios in 2017 (Institutional Asset Manager). Granito Group founder Rodrigo Tavares suggests 10 reasons startups should be socially responsible from their inception, asking why, if millennial founders think business can change the world, more startups aren’t socially responsible (Greenbiz). Folio Institutional President Greg Vigrass asks how financial advisers will operate in a world which reduces reliance on humans, requires sizeable investments in new technology and demands a greater alignment between investments and social values, all in a more restrictive regulatory environment (MarketWatch). Finally, in a sadly unsurprising revelation, newly installed U.S. national security adviser John Bolton was involved in an investment fund which bet on guns, oil and coal to counter the current of “progressive” socially responsible investment (The Daily Beast).

Question of the Week

Which Swedish financial advisory firm upgraded their equity fund to “active sustainability” in April last year?

Famous Last Words

“[We need to see] a series of examples of how [Facebook] is managing systemic risks to data privacy in their operations… That’s what needs to be shown to the market, and they also need to convince the market this is the risk they’re actually managing… It’s time for them to step up. This happened in 2016. How come we haven’t heard about this until now? Have they been using the data for other elections? For other purposes? There are so many questions, and so few answers”Nordea’s Sustainability Chief Sasja Beslik raising questions Mark Zuckerberg is unlikely to want to answer (Bloomberg).

Happy weekend,

Your NordSIP team

Image: (c) NosorogUA-shutterstock

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