By Peter Knight, President, Generation Investment Management, Fiona Reynolds, Managing Director, PRI, Nick Robins, Co-Director, UNEP Inquiry into a Sustainable Financial System and Eric Usher, Head, UNEP Finance Initiative
In China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea there are compelling national interest reasons for policy makers to promote the incorporation of environmental, social and governance factors into investment practice. Issues include addressing air quality, improving citizens’ long-term health, reducing inequality, providing for an ageing population and attracting the international capital necessary to meet economic growth targets. Investing prudently requires ESG factors to be considered in investment decision-making and to be part of the dialogue between investors and companies. This is consistent with the legal framework in all the markets studied in this report.
However, despite growing awareness of responsible investment, many investors have yet to fully integrate ESG factors into their investment decision-making processes. Public policy and regulation are a key influence. Currently, these markets have few formal requirements to integrate ESG factors, but investor obligations and duties are dynamic concepts that continuously evolve as society changes.
By working together, policy makers and investors can shape investment frameworks to clarify the obligations and duties investors owe to beneficiaries – obligations to embed ESG factors into investment decision-making, ownership practices, and ultimately, the way in which companies are managed.