Sustainable Finance for Breakfast (15): A round-table meeting on developments in the sustainable finance space.
19 February 2019 | Deloitte, London
It has been a mixed month, but I guess the direction of travel is still encouraging.
One the one hand, EdenTree published a report on the continued prevalence of 'greenwashing' - which rather surprised me since I had thought we were beyond that. And Financial News had a story on green bonds, describing them as "good for the City, pointless for the environment" - which also set me back.
Plus there was a distinctly underwhelming World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, where (as far as I can judge) ESG issues got even less traction than in the past, although TPG agreed to change its analytics, Refinitive (ex-Thomson Reuters) introduced a new benchmark and Blackrock went all gooey-eyed.
On the other hand, 16 utility companies (led by EDF, but including our own super-sewer) launched their Corporate Forum on Sustainable Financing, and Bloomberg reported that "financial vehicles linked to environmental and/or social benefits" raised a record US$247 billion last year around the world - with the US leading the way through Fannie Mae's green home loan programme. And, if correct, the well-trailed bankruptcy of PG&E - though it cannot be directly tied to climate change - does emphasise just how vulnerable utilities are.
But that is only a taster. The expert in this field, and our guide for the last fourteen sessions, is Ben Caldecott, founding director of the Sustainable Finance Programme at Oxford's Smith School. As usual, he will sort the wheat from the chaff - assisted, this time, by:
- Sophie Robinson-Tillett, deputy editor of Responsible Investor, where she focuses on climate finance, green bonds and policy-related news. She was previously news editor at Environmental Finance and a reporter at The Guardian.
- James McManus an investment manager and head of ETF research at Nutmeg, which he joined in 2015 from Coutts.
This is a caring-and-sharing experience, so we hope you will be able to contribute your own thoughts as well. If you (or a colleague) would like to join us, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the Centre on 0207 621 1056. As usual (and thanks to Deloitte's generosity), there will be tea, coffee and buns a-plenty.
8th Sustainable Finance Forum: The Future of Engagement and Active Ownership
13th-14th June 2019 | Waddesdon Manor
The Oxford Sustainable Finance Programme at the University of Oxford Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, together with The Rothschild Foundation and the KR Foundation, is organising the 8th Sustainable Finance Forum on Thursday 13th and Friday 14th June 2019. The 8th Forum will focus on the future of investor engagement and active ownership. This will be held at Waddesdon Manor - an estate built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in 1874 in Buckinghamshire - with accommodation at nearby Hartwell House. There is no fee for attendance and there will be no more than 60 high-level attendees.
Investors – from the largest institutions (such as pension funds, insurers and sovereign wealth funds) to the smallest millennial retail saver – are increasingly concerned with ensuring that their investments across different asset classes (such as listed equities, bonds, private equity and property) have smaller environmental footprints and that these become better aligned with different environmental thresholds.
Yet there is a pervasive collective action problem in terms of effectively executing concerted and coordinated engagement strategies with other like-minded investors. Further, investor influence on companies and their environmental footprints differs enormously by asset class, sector, and geography, as well as (of course) by the size and reputation of the investor(s) in question.
These are familiar problems and much progress has been made to improve engagement. But much more needs to be done to secure the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. Fortunately emerging technologies, changing client preferences, new regulatory landscapes, and evolving economic geographies create new opportunities for more effective engagement and forms of active ownership. Now is also a good moment to take stock of what has been achieved so far, what lessons have been learnt, and to consider what best practice can and should look like in the future and how we achieve it.
The forum will have sessions on these issues, including on using game theory to enhance engagement, the economic geography of engagement, climate litigation, retail investors and fintech, engagement beyond listed equities, and measuring engagement performance.
If you would like to attend, please apply for your place by emailing email@example.com with details of your position, affiliation, and interest in the topic. We carefully curate each forum to ensure appropriate levels of seniority, representation from different parts of the investment chain, and balance across specialisms and jurisdictions. We will let you know whether you have secured a place in due course. Unfortunately the forums are always heavily oversubscribed and a large number of applications will be unsuccessful.
Please also see our event archive for past events.