July 2016









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Eurosif July Newsletter

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Editorial

Dear Colleagues,

This second quarter 2016 of EU policy was an interesting roller coaster of events which kept us on the edge of our seats in different ways. Panama papers, IORPs decisive last trialogue negotiations which seem to have closed on a positive note for the ESG community, and, of course, Brexit (see below) are some of the main topics that dominated our scene in the past few months.

During the EU Green Week, the European Commission discussed how more sustainable environmental practice can contribute to a more successful economy. This discussion took place while the European Commission looked at environmental policies, and specifically at how the European Fund for Strategic Investments can mobilise finance for green projects. The event sent some powerful signals to European investor’s community ‘that a change of culture is both possible and profitable’ these the words of Commissioner Vella, analysing how to facilitate access to finance specially for SMEs. Supporting the growth of more sustainable investment tools seems to have been a rising trend in recent months, as not only corporates and banks; but also municipalities and pension funds, have issued new Green Bonds.

All this activity has prepared the ground for the recent update of the Green Bond Principles through the ICMA. This is expected to add significantly to market transparency and further clarify the process of Green Bond issuer alignment with the GBP. Meanwhile, the market continues to grow exponentially and investors expect it to continue growing ‘into a trillion-dollar behemoth by the next decade’, as the EBRD issued its biggest ever green bond of 650 million dollars. The ‘’State of the Market 2016” report, published by the Climate Bond Initiative estimates  an increase of climate bonds by $96 billion on last year’s report, including a total made up of approximately 3,590 bonds. Green bonds were also high on the Commission’s agenda as it organised a stakeholder meeting late last month, convening all the key stakeholders who are collaborating with the Green Bond Principles and the Climate Bond Initiative. Different scenarios and plans were discussed as part of the draft report, prepared by a consultancy consortium for the DG.

Sustainability and long-term investment as part of the Capital Market Union was also the topic that animated the debate on the 1st of June at the Eurosif event, organised with the support of the S&D MEP Zanonato. This first Eurosif event organised at the European Parliament included a very interesting set of panellists, who exchanged opinions on the potential of the CMU to unlock new opportunities for a more sustainable economy on both a social and environmental level. For a more detail report, please click here

As Eurosif is preparing its 2016 SRI study, positive feedback in the industry comes from France where a new study commissioned by Candriam, reported that over 52% of European financial advisers offer SRI funds today. As we ponder on how to further encourage the European market expansion and building on this encouraging news from France, where the Energy Transition for Green Growth bill passed into law late last year, we dare to ask ourselves and our readers – should this ambitious corporate climate-reporting model go global? In addition, what is the future of a number of policy negotiations in a Brexit context? Climate negotiations risk being more difficult without the British, as they have been among the supporters of an ambitious reform of emission trading and have set themselves important national targets. On the other hand, negotiations could be unlocked on a number of dossiers, for instance renewable energy, where the UK has exerted a deep-rooted scepticism overall. What remains essential is to ensure that the Commission overcomes the initial shock of the new situation and continues to seize the moment to help Europe transition to renewable energy.

As always, enjoy your reading!
 

UKSIF on Brexit

Following the outcome of  the British referendum in June, Eurosif spoke with UKSIF’s Executive Director, Simon Howard to discuss what Brexit might mean for UKSIF and its members.

Flavia Micilotta, Eurosif’s Executive Director: When did you start thinking Brexit would really happen?

Simon: The opinion polls suggested a tight race throughout, and as such the result should not have been a surprise – even though it was to most of the UK political and business classes. Commentators are discussing how the voting pattern highlights disconnections between different groups: young and old, urban and rural, and I think that is right. I think that the danger for the UK sustainability sector is that issues such as climate change, governance and wider stakeholder rights which did not have a high political profile in the 2015 General Election, and which in the referendum were presented as being the domain of the remain campaign, might now be seen as having been rejected – implicitly – by the electorate. In any case there is a danger that the UK government agenda will now be dominated by Brexit as other issues are squeezed out.

I’m not qualified to comment in respect of other countries but I would be surprised if the unhappiness with the status quo which the UK vote may reflect, and which may also be evident in US politics, is not present elsewhere.

 

F: Have you discussed it with your membership? What are their main concerns?

S: We haven’t discussed the result formally. Informal feedback confirms that member companies were not expecting the outcome and many individuals were upset. Each of our member segments sees possible mainstream business negatives: falling asset values have an impact in fund management; delays to banking and other transactions affect the bankers; a slowing in retail investment flows is feared in the adviser community; our pension fund members see the level of liabilities (priced off falling bond yields) rise. In respect of sustainable finance sector business flows, I imagine most people feel that it is harder to promote new styles of investment and finance against a background of uncertainty.

 

F: There is no way of telling the precise implications of Brexit today, but can you present our readership with two scenarios – best and worst cases?

S: Well the worst scenario is easily described: no trade deal and bankrupt French farmers, bankrupt German industrial firms and bankrupt British financial service firms. The best is a grown up deal which allows close neighbours to trade together, and which allows those that choose to make laws on a multi-national basis.

I have no idea what will happen about immigration. I think current UK concerns probably stem from a perception, often apparently held by those living far away from where immigrants are settling, that EU migration is driven by economic factors and drives down pay. These fears are not unique to the UK. BBC radio carried an interview this morning with a Parisian waiter saying the same thing.

 

F: How do you see UKSIF relation to Eurosif evolve? And will anything change in the way your constituency responds to the EU policy-making agenda?

S: I think the relationship will get closer. The issues we face demand international co-operation and that can deliver irrespective of the political structures which pertain – just look at COP 21. In Europe there are real opportunities. So, Flavia, you have drawn SIF attention to the developments on RI which are stemming from the EU’s desire to have clearer terminology in respect of PRRIPs and CMU. This echoes issues that were discussed at an UKSIF event this week on the use of ratings for RI funds. At that event, the point was made that the need for understanding of our issues cannot be driven solely by the UK context but also needs to consider the European and global perspectives.

I think the obvious need for coordinated work on these issues highlights that we need to establish a model whereby all SIFs in the European region seek to influence all governance bodies – national, regional for EU members, and global – in the most effective way. I look forward to continuing to cite Eurosif views in the UK as evidence of what an informed and expert group thinks makes sense on issues. I think UK support for your submissions to the EU can only support your contention that the thinking they contain is correct. We know each other well enough to make sure that when we operate on a global issue through the GSIA, the language is appropriate.

But to cut to the chase: we face critical sustainability issues and no one should let Brexit slow progress. UKSIF will do its best to keep things moving forward in the UK, Europe and globally.

For more information, please contact Simon Howard and Flavia Micilotta

Can long-term investing unlock the potential of the CMU? Towards a Sustainable Capital Markets Union

On the 1st of June, Eurosif and the Italian Sustainable Investment Forum – Forum per la Finanza Sostenibile – with the kind collaboration of MEP Flavio Zanonato (S&D, IT) organised a conference on Long-Term investment as part of the Capital Markets Union. In view of the European Commission’s recent release of its Capital Markets Union (CMU) Action Plan defining the building blocks of an effective and integrated CMU to be put in place by 2019, Eurosif wanted to stress the important drivers that need to be part of the policy equation. These drivers guarantee, on one side, that the CMU is able to deliver economic growth and job creation as it commits to, while not denying the main pillars of sustainability.

For a full debrief of the event, please click here

What should be the top priorities for a sustainable Capital Markets Union?

A significant gap has emerged between global and EU commitments to put financial markets on a sustainable footing. International momentum has picked up greatly in recent months, the world’s governments signed the landmark Paris Agreement at the end of 2015 and the G20, Financial Stability Board and many national governments are looking at the actions they can take to ‘green’ financial markets. To date, the European Commission has done relatively little on sustainable finance, despite it being recognised as an area for attention as part of its Capital Markets Union initiative.
 
We’d like your views on how this could be remedied. Environmental think tank E3G have developed a set of policy proposals which aim to help build a sustainable Capital Markets Union in the EU. Join the debate on how this can be achieved by completing this short 5 minute survey, which asks for your opinion on their proposals.

To take the survey, please click here

Eurosif Member News

29 % growth for Responsible Investment in France

By the end of 2015, the French Responsible Investment market was worth 746bn€ according to the last annual study released by Novethic and French SIF. More than 7% of this market (54bn) can be considered as « high-impact SRI ». More details.
 
First French public climate labels attributed
As of today, 7 funds have obtained the Energy and Ecological Transition for Climate (TEEC) label, representing a total of 735M€ of assets under management. Three of mirova’s funds got the label as well as one each for Acofi Gestion, Demeter Partners, RGreen Invest and Sycomore AM. Both EY France and Novethic have been designated as auditors and can be chosen by candidate funds. More information on the label can be found here
 

Public SRI label
Label committee members are still to be designated and one more official auditor of the SRI label is still to be announced. Both the French normalisation association, Afnor, and EY France have been designated auditors. The first labels should be attributed during autumn.

The SRI Week becomes the Week of Responsible Finance
The newly renamed Week of Responsible Finance (changed to be better understood by the general public) will take place from 26 September to 2 October 2016. It will include impact investment events including ones carried by crowdfunding platforms. Consult the Week’s website for more details.

Investors’ workbook on article 173 of the Energy Transition Law
The workbook is on track and should be released in September, in both French and English.

For all the latest news from the French SIF, visit www.frenchsif.org


FNG Label 2017 will be awarded on November 23 in Berlin
The FNG Label, introduced to the German speaking market in 2015, will be awarded for the second time, in Berlin on November 23, 2016. The Label offers fund providers the opportunity to document the quality and the sustainability standards of their investment products and, at the same time, allows them to make an active contribution to the further development of the sustainable investment market in the German-speaking countries. The label’s methodology consists of minimum requirements and a multi-grade model which promotes competition to pursue more ambitious sustainable investment strategies. Each certification is valid for one calendar year.

For all the latest news from FNG, visit www.forum-ng.org


National Dialogue on Sustainable Finance (NDSF) launched in Italy
The Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea and UNEP – in the framework of the international programme UNEP Inquiry – Design of a Sustainable Financial System – has launched the “National Dialogue on Sustainable Finance” (NDSF) in Italy.
The initiative is aimed at identifying a common roadmap for greening the Italian financial system, through eight Working Groups involving the key stakeholders of the Italian market such as banking institutions, insurance companies, asset managers, pension funds, financial market authorities, etc.
The Italian SIF (FFS), together with Fondazione Cariplo, is the co-leader of the WG ”Greening Institutional Investors”. The final report will be publicly presented in autumn 2016.
 

Coming up next: the 5th Italian SRI Week 
Launched in 2012 by the Italian SIF (FFS), the SRI Week has already become the most important event on sustainable finance in Italy. The 2016 edition, scheduled for November 2016 (exact dates TBA soon), will feature the presentation of a Guideline on finance and climate change and a Report on ESG integration, addressed to Italian Foundations. Also, the figures of the Eurosif European SRI Study 2016 will be presented within the initiative, together with the second edition of the Benchmark “Responsible Investment by pension plans”.
“I have big expectations for the 2016 edition of the SRI Week in Italy” declares Francesco Bicciato, Secretary General of the Italian SIF “as the interest towards SRI shown by financial players is growing, we are also sensing an increasing consensus from the Italian Government: these look like the perfect conditions for the SRI market to show its full potential. ” 

 
For all the latest news from the Italian SIF, visit www.finanzasostenibile.it


 

Next steps in embedding corporate responsibility – AGM report 2016

The latest VBDO report was published in early July. This report contains the results of VBDO’s engagement with 37 Dutch stock listed companies around their Annual General Meeting. The incredible progress on responsible tax shows the impact VBDO’s engagement has had addressing this topic year after year, starting as one of the first organizations actively questioning responsible tax four years ago.

To read the full report, please click here.
 

VBDO report shows: Dutch listed companies lag behind in commitment to living wage

Dutch listed companies lag behind in commitment to paying living wage in international supply chains. The new report from the Dutch sustainable investment forum found that only 2 out of 37 investigated Dutch listed companies have made a commitment to paying living wage in upcoming economies or developing countries.

“We expect listed companies to respect internationally recognised human rights,” said VvH/AL. “The Living Wage affords people the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families. We expect listed companies to take care of this in their international supply chains. Respecting human rights is part of sustainable international supply chain management and CSR policies”.

Very few companies make a reference to the payment of living wage in their supplier code of conduct. Only 2 out of 37 companies have made a commitment to paying a living wage and only 1 company has made sure that all its key suppliers have signed their code of conduct which contains a reference to paying a living wage. VBDO believes that the definition and application of a living wage should receive more attention.

VBDO considers Gemalto as having a good practice on paying a living wage in the supply chain. Gemalto has developed a CSR purchasing chapter, which has been signed by all key suppliers, in which it has formulated a commitment on providing ‘fair and reasonable wages, enough to ensure basic living needs without excessive overtime’.
For more information contact: Ingmar.schuurmans@vbdo.nl or Vicky.vanheck@vbdo.nl

For all the latest news from VBDO, visit www.vbdo.nl


Spain SRI week 2016
This year, the SRI week was held across three Spanish cities (Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia). We reached a new attendance record with a 60% increase on the previous SRI week.
One of the many events was held with UNPRI, to mark their 10th anniversary, and several Spanish PRI signatories participated.
More information can be found here

 

Spainsif appeals to corporate governance and long-term approach to face uncertain times

During Spainsif’s Seventh General Assembly, the Members concluded that governance will be the central element in the agenda of investors in the coming years.
For more details, please click here.

 

Spainsif and the General Direction of insurance and pension funds present a new model of information on occupational pension plans

This tool, which can be voluntarily used by managers, unifies the criteria in the statement of the principles of investment policy. It facilitates work for managers and for General Direction, which will get comparable data in these issues as a result.
For an overview, please click here.

 

Disability and Sustainability, a consolidated binomial

Article by Carla Bonino, European Programmes Unit, Fundación ONCE

On May 19th 2016 in Amsterdam, during the 5th GRI Global Conference titled “Empowering Sustainable Decisions” – one of the most renowned international events related to CSR and Sustainability – disability was, for the first time, a visible part of the agenda. 

Read the full article here
 

Spain SRI news

For more news of Spain SRI market, subscribe to our newsletter! 


UK Policy
It is a time of massive political upheaval in the UK. After the referendum vote to leave the EU, British political parties are in turmoil with leadership elections taking place for the Greens, UK Independence Party, Labour and the Conservatives. As Andrea Leadsom dropped out of the Conservative race, Theresa May became Prime Minister on Wednesday (13th) following David Cameron’s resignation. In her last speech of the election contest, May outlined radical reforms to the UK economy, including the corporate governance regime. More information on the implications of the Brexit vote on SRI in the UK is available here.
 
UKSIF activity
UKSIF is currently gearing up for the 9th annual ‘Good Money Week’ campaign which takes place this year from the 30th of October to the 5th of November. Good Money Week is an opportunity for UKSIF members, and others, to showcase the products, thought leadership and innovations emerging from the UK’s vibrant SRI sector. Last year, the campaign achieved a wide variety of positive press coverage and saw over 50 events, tailored to a variety of audiences, happen up and down the country. We look forward to finalising plans for this year and raising awareness of all forms of ‘good money’. Visit www.goodmoneyweek.com for more information.

“UK politics is moving very fast. The new Prime Minister, Theresa May, has outlined policies on corporate governance and housing which look radical and at odds with those of the recent past. The need now is to make sure that UK sustainable finance plays a full part in shaping the better definition of these aspirations.” Simon Howard, Chief Executive, UKSIF

For all the latest news from UKSIF, visit www.uksif.org

Candriam Investors Group further strengthens its SRI proposition
After 20 years of sustainable and responsible investments, Candriam Investors Group has further strengthened its SRI proposition with the launch of an Institute for Responsible Investment.

For more information, please click here

 

National SIF Calendar

 

 

Industry News

The Euromoney/GlobalCapital Sustainable & Responsible Capital Markets Forum, 6 September, Amsterdam.

Euromoney Conferences and GlobalCapital are joining forces in 2016 to provide an unrivalled platform for thought leadership and comprehensive global coverage of the fixed income market’s embrace of socially responsible investing and environmental finance.
 
The market will convene on 6 September in Amsterdam for a one day Forum of in depth discussion and debate. We’ll be looking at how to keep growing the green and social bond market and at how issuers and investors can utilise the capital markets to finance a more sustainable and socially responsible future.
 
An Awards Ceremony will take place following the conference that will celebrate the issuers, investors and intermediaries that have pioneered and innovated in the green and social bond markets. Market participants are asked to vote in a wide-reaching poll.
 
To apply for your place, view the draft agenda and to find out more information about the event, please click here.

Sustainable Development Programme 2016
 
ITCILO is the training arm of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations agency entrusted with promoting social justice, including internationally recognized human rights and labour standards. ITCILO offers a range of learning modalities, mostly professional training courses and Masters programmes (in association with the University of Turin, the University of Barcelona and SciencesPo, Paris).

This year, a selection of open short courses will be offered by the Sustainable Development Programme (SDP) in the four areas of: Procurement Management; Programme and Project Cycle Management; Green Jobs; and Multinational Enterprises and Global Supply Chains.
                                                               
The full brochure is available here.

Sustainable seafood and responsible investment
A new report was published by Aviva Investors and Sustainable Fisheries Parthership (SFP), calling on seafood companies and policy makers to protect the global supply through improved sustainability.

Launched to coincide with the UN’s World Oceans Day, 2016, the report argues that overfishing has led to a significant decline in many fish stocks, all while our need for increased food production grows more pressing.
                                                               
The full report can be downloaded here.

About Eurosif 
 
Eurosif is the leading European association for the promotion and advancement of sustainable and responsible investment across Europe, for the benefit of its members.

Eurosif’s purpose is to:

1. Promote best practice in Sustainable and Responsible Investment (SRI) on behalf of its members
2. Lobby for European regulation and legislation that supports the development of SRI
3. Support its members in developing their sustainable and responsible investment business
4. Promote the development of, and collaboration between SIFs across Europe
5. Provide research and analysis on the development and trends within the SRI market across Europe
6. Raise awareness of and increase demand for SRI throughout the European capital markets
 
www.eurosif.org
 
Eurosif’s EU Transparency registration number with the European Commission is 70659452143-78.

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