ESG Impacts of the War in Ukraine: Global Food Supply
The invasion of Ukraine highlights the fragility of the global food system. The destruction caused by the war and subsequent trade restrictions on Russia, endangers a significant percentage of the global food supply coming from two of world’s leading agricultural commodity exporters, consequently prompting food prices to surpass the 30-year high.
Mass Timber in Construction - Big Buildings, Smaller Carbon Footprint
As an innovation in the industry, mass timber construction emits significantly less carbon than traditional concrete and metal structures, while modular construction ensures usability across many building types. This article reviews some of the concerns over structural strength, fire safety, regulatory compatibility, cost savings and the sustainability of increased forestry. It then examines current mass timber buildings and projects and looks at their viability as an alternative material for the future.
Russia, ESG Risks in Energy, and Corporate Citizenship
As the unprecedented situation in Ukraine continues to unfold, Russia’s energy industry has remained remarkably untouched by the waves of sanctions currently being deployed against the country, despite being arguably its most important sector. While the European Union and its allies have been cautious to avoid disrupting energy flows (unlike how sanctions are currently disrupting the flow of capital), international oil companies are responding to the crisis in their own capacity.
Key Themes Shaping Proxy Voting in 2022
As the volume and breadth of ESG risk exposure continue to rise, the stage is set for another momentous proxy season. The trending topics of last year will continue to steer the agenda—with the prospect of even more substantial support from shareholders in 2022.
The Sustainability Conundrum of Living Income in Agriculture
Living Income is a crucial consideration among leading companies across some sectors and their supplier companies throughout the agricultural and food supply chain. Companies that manage ESG risk in their supply chains, making targeted investments to improve their resilience, are better positioned to build investor confidence.
3 Reasons to Skill Up and Scale Up ESG Stewardship in 2022
As our clients and the industry at large focus on proactively mitigating risk and capitalizing on this evolving landscape, stewardship will be a key lever for savvy investors—particularly those facing external pressure to divest. Here are the ESG themes we see influencing stewardship priorities this year.
5 Sustainability Themes to Expect in 2022
As we enter 2022, it struck me that VUCA--a concept that originated in the mid-1980s at the U.S. Army War College to describe the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity of the world after the Cold War—is still a useful framework to think of where we are now.
A Closer Look at Product Governance ESG Risk Management
In 68% of our engagements, product governance is a significant material ESG issue, but it is our experience that most companies underestimate the materiality of this risk to investors. For some industries, product governance represents on average more than 20% of ESG risk exposure, as identified within our ESG Risk Rating framework.
COP 26: A Spotlight on Emerging Climate Action Themes for Investors
Reactions to the COP26 Conference and the resulting Glasgow Climate Pact have predictably run the gamut from claims of greenwashing to the celebration of progress in the fight against climate change. Ultimately, any judgement on COP26 may be premature, as the success of the conference will best be measured in time by the extent to which commitments made are put into motion. While we wait to see the concrete actions that materialize, the past two weeks have underscored the importance of several themes that will garner increasing attention and should be considered by sustainable investors.
Impact of Climate Change and Extreme Weather on Essential Services
Utilities have found themselves in the literal and metaphorical eye of the storm over the last year as hurricanes, floods and wildfires of increasing frequency and strength have wreaked damage on their assets. In late August, Storm Ida made landfall in Louisiana, USA and devastated the power grid lines. Entergy, the utility operating in Louisiana, supplying most of New Orleans, restored 90% of the supply only by mid-September, with 87,000 customers still without power.
The circular way forward could be the key to reducing food waste
Indications that a food crisis is imminent are clear. Fundamental changes in the global food system are required to address these challenges. This decade is a watershed moment for urgent efforts to close the loop, and companies and investors can play a pivotal role. Despite being closely connected to issues such as climate change and basic human rights, food waste has attracted comparatively less attention from companies, investors, and other stakeholders.
Recent market trends put engagement and voting front and centre for responsible investors
From a market perspective, engagement and voting on governance issues have been used as levers for influence for a long time. On the other hand, environmental and social issues were historically addressed from a values-based perspective or primarily for fact-finding purposes. Today, many responsible investors leverage corporate dialogue as a tool to influence and drive meaningful change and impact
North American Material Risk Engagement Trends: ESG Reporting Frameworks, Emission Reduction Targets and Beyond
There are many factors that rating agencies consider within its overall assessment. For example, ESG rating companies tend to look for at least three years of ESG metrics to determine company trends and long-term ESG targets, goals, and strategies to manage and reduce ESG risks at least five years ahead. Read on to learn about how Sustainalytics' Material Risk Engagement program promotes and protects long-term value by engaging with high-risk companies on financially-material ESG issues. (A North American Snapshot)
Delays, Questions and Confusion: Updates on the EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation
In this blog, we look at the delay of the level 2 regulation, some aspects of the Q&A, and the ongoing confusion and divergence around SFDR. We pay special attention to the potential impact of the Principle Adverse Impact indicators, an element of SFDR.
ESG Risk Exposure from COVID-19 Vaccine Transportation and Distribution
As mass vaccination against the coronavirus started, a key challenge has been to keep millions of doses of vaccines at the right temperature. An increase in temperature inside a truck or aircraft, by half a degree, for half an hour, would reportedly result in a 'defrosted' vaccine which has then to be discarded.
EU Taxonomy Developments and the EU’s Renewed Sustainable Finance Strategy
On July 6th, the European Commission published its Strategy for Financing the Transition to a Sustainable Economy, the successor of the EU’s Sustainable Finance Action Plan, which launched in 2018. The strategy focuses on transforming the financial system and financing transition plans, building on the 2018 Action Plan, which centered on developing the EU Taxonomy, putting in place disclosure regimes, and developing tools for the market to develop sustainable investment solutions and prevent greenwashing.
Using Systems Thinking to Avoid ESG Investing Blind Spots
For investors looking to enhance ESG risk management and the long-term impact of sustainability efforts, a systemic approach can help identify interventions that will most effectively mitigate the risk of negative outcomes or divert the chain of events towards a more sustainable trajectory. Typically, this involves moving from single-issue or company-specific tactics to progressively integrate system-level considerations in ESG strategies. Targeting systemic change through active ownership is one way to acknowledge and start unravelling the dynamic web of global challenges.
Sustainalytics Weighs in on EU Taxonomy’s State of Flux
On May 7th, the European Commission published draft rules on how corporates and financial institutions should report on their alignment with the EU Taxonomy. The draft rules are laid out in a very technical document and not an easy read. This might explain why certain changes with significant impact on timelines and scope of the EU Taxonomy Regulation have flown under the radar of media and investors. Some of the impacts even escaped the attention of financial market participants responding to the consultation on the rules.
Banks Embrace Corporate Culture as Change Agent
Corporate culture is not automatically positive, and elements of a company’s culture may provide certain benefits or disadvantages to a firm’s competitiveness. When acknowledged, corporate culture can be used as a tool to drive better business outcomes and manage conduct and compliance risk. Our discussions with companies show that corporate culture can have a dominant effect and influence behaviour over and beyond stated company policies and programs.