Barclays Researchers on “Green Bonds”: Small-but-steady Performance Benefits Possible, With Little Evidence of Negative Impact

The investment community — especially fiduciaries — continues to have a flow of more “green” products being made available from a growing number of issuers and their intermediaries; these include “green bonds.”  Charting this trend, a team of Barclays managers and researchers issued a report as part of the “Barclays Impact Series.”  Their findings: ESG investing can have a positive effect on portfolios for institutional and individual investors.  There are small-but-steady performance benefits and no evidence of a negative impact for such investing.

Noted the report authors:  “In a world where concerns over climate change, pollution and issues of sustainability are ever more pressing, socially responsible investing has become an important consideration for a growing number of individuals and institutions.”

The researchers concluded that with this growth of “socially responsible” investing the idea that enjoying a financial return on investment while having a positive impact on society is attractive to a growing number of investors.  And investment in “green bonds” is one approach to attempt to accomplish that.  Different investors, of course, have different appetites for the embrace of ESG factors for their portfolio management.

Introducing ESG factors into the investment process can result in some measure of benefit for portfolios as investors consider the impacts of climate change, limits or constraints on natural resources, shifts in societal norms (such as expecting responsible supply chain management) — and the positive and negative effects on their portfolios.

One of the challenges for investors in assessing ESG investable products is that the typical accounting statements of the issuer (as an example) is not always sufficient for navigating in the new frontier of green bond investing.  The bonds being issued (say, for infrastructure) might typically might address E and S issues that are “non-financial” in the traditional management-speak or investor-speak.  Think of the impacts of climate change / global warming, pollution, energy conservation (the “E’s”) and numerous workplace issues (the “S”).

The Barclays’ Quantitative Portfolio Strategy team researchers determined that an Issuer’s “G” scoring may be more definable and measurable for potential investment outcomes; corporate governance has been an issue for issuer-investor discussion for decades longer than the typical societal (S) issue of more recent times.

In the study effort, taking the individual elements of ESG, the report authors found that “G” (corporate governance) issues can have the greatest impact on portfolio performance.  Green bonds with a higher “G” score apparently have the lowest credit downgrades than those with low G scoring.

The researchers examined bonds in the Bloomberg Barclays US Corporate Investment Grade Index and organized these in Low, Medium and High ESG scoring for their analysis.

The Barclays researchers were Albert Desclee, Lev Dynkin, Jay Hyman, and Simon Polbennikov — they are key players in the firm’s management corps.
There are more details available in the highlights presented in our Top Story. Click here for the presentation of the research results by Barclays.

Sustainable Investing Boosts Bond Portfolio Performance: Barclays Study
(Tuesday - November 29, 2016)
Source: Just Means - The study found that introducing ESG factors into the investment process resulted in a small but steady performance benefit.

At the CR Commit! Forum: Next Generation Sustainability Reporting Issue Table

Juliet RussellBy Juliet Russell, G&A Institute GRI Data Reports Analyst

At the final session on the first day of the recent Commit! Forum’s conference in New York City, attendees broke out into “Issue Tables,” each focusing on different topics — ranging from Human Trafficking to 3rd Party [report] Assurance to STEM Education.

I joined the Next Generation Sustainability Reporting Issue table, where I sat among twelve experts, including the Vice President of Corporate Sustainability at MGM Resorts, the CEO of AdaptReady and the Global Head of Strategy at Thomson Reuters.  We shared knowledge and discussed ideas about the future of Sustainability reporting.

Highlights of our discussion:  First, the growing importance of sustainability reports was discussed, including (but not limited to) their importance as an information base for investors, helping to shape investment decisions.  Many investors are beginning to make decisions based on information disclosed publicly in corporate sustainability reports and are increasingly looking out for ESG (Environmental / Social / Governance) data.

We were encouraged to discuss recent advancements in Sustainability Reporting and the direction in which we expect it to head in.

Regarding frameworks, we expected more companies to be aligning with the GRI G4 report framework and also discussed the possible influence of the new modular GRI reporting standards, beginning this November, 2016.

SASB (Sustainability Accounting Standards Board) was a popular discussion within the group, as many felt this would become increasingly important in Sustainability reporting.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also received a great deal of attention – being new goals (devised in 2014) for companies to align with and being more challenging than the UN Global Compact.  Many of us felt that Sustainability Reporting will be increasingly referring to, and based around, the UN SDGs.

Considering the content of the report, the group expected to see more companies committing to Science Based Targets.  These include ambitious greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs) reduction targets tailored individually for each company committed to help keep global warming below the COP21-agreed 2 degrees Celsius.  This includes communication about ‘best practices’ and scoring each of their main suppliers.

Many of us believed that stating that the materiality of the report content is foundational for these reports and so expected to see more of these types of references.  We also discussed that streamlining Sustainability information provided by a company, e.g. integrating Sustainability Reports into the Annual Reports; that should help to decrease audit fatigue and increases investment in the company and employees’ investment into their work.

Our table participants concluded that the future of sustainability reporting is likely to reflect the combination of influence of GRI, SASB and the SDGs. The final task was to come up with a “tweet” to convey the outcome of our discussion, we decided: “Future of sustainability reporting is a GRI+SASB+SDG sandwich. Yummy. #ReportingSandwich.”

Overall, I found this CR Commit! conference session to be very interesting and insightful. It was a really fun and interactive session, encouraging people from across industries with different experiences to share their opinions and ideas. I think every person around the table gained some knowledge and possibly also ideas for their own company with how to tackle their next, or first published, Sustainability Report.

G&A INTERNSHIP AVAILABLE – GRI Data Partner Reports Analyst

Opportunity:  Learn to Analyze Data and Interpret Content from Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Reporting

Position:  GRI Data Partner – Sustainability Report Analyst Internship Available

Location: Virtual (our offices are in NYC).  Work is done remotely with a flexible work schedule – at your own location.  Initial training via Web.

Time Requirements: Position requires approximately 10 hours a week and begins ASAP.  The timing of the work is flexible and can be done remotely for a majority of the time required.  The internship will take place starting in January 2017 and ending June 30th, 2017.

Description

Governance & Accountability Institute is a New York City-based company that specializes in research, communication, strategies and other services focused on corporate sustainability and corporate ESG performance (“Environmental, Social, Governance”) issues.  G&A is offering the opportunity for an internship for a qualified student interested in learning more about these topics.

This is a very fast growing area of interest to corporations and Wall Street interests.  The GRI reporting framework is the most widely used in the world for these types of reports.

G&A is the exclusive data partner for the United States, United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland for the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).  The Global Reporting Initiative is a non-profit organization that promotes the use of sustainability reporting as a way for organizations to become more sustainable and contribute to sustainable development.

GRI provides all companies and organizations with a comprehensive sustainability reporting framework that is the most widely used and respected around the world.  Currently thousands of global organizations use the GRI to report on their Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance strategies, impacts, opportunities and engagements.  (www.globalreporting.org).  G&A Institute interns learn important elements about GRI reporting that can be used in their future work situations.

As the exclusive US, UK and Ireland data partner of the GRI, Governance & Accountability Institute’s role is to collect, organize, and analyze sustainability reports that are issued by corporations, public entities, not-for-profits and other entities in the United States, United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland for the benefit of all stakeholders.  In this role the analyst will work as part of a team to analyze these reports for inclusion in the largest global database of Sustainability reports, the GRI’s Sustainability Disclosure Database (database.globalreporting.org).

The Intern Opportunity

Learning to read, analyze, use, and structure data from reports using the GRI G3, GRI G3.1, GRI G4, GRI-Reference as well as NON-GRI corporate and institutional reports will comprise the majority of this assignment.  The research will also contribute to several published research reports on various trends in sustainability reporting which are widely referenced by media, academics, business, capital markets players and other important sustainability stakeholders.

The student(s) selected will have the opportunity to experience a fast-paced, highly-adaptive (and nurturing) culture in a small but growing company with a unique niche. This is a hands-on position with considerable learning opportunity for those headed for a career in corporate responsibility.

Applicants should demonstrate a strong background and keen interest in ESG and Sustainability issues and topics.   A plus: strong technical, communication, and organizational skills.  Basic skills in Excel and researching on Google are required. Applicants with writing and editing abilities will have preference.

Interested students should send a resume outlining education and skill sets. As an option, a one to two page introduction essay on what you would like to learn more about (in terms of your career goals), what your interests are, and anything else you feel may be relevant to the job/our organization will also be welcomed.    Samples of writing or research on sustainability or other topics are also a plus.

G&A interns get public recognition for their work in our published reports, on our web platform and in other ways. To see what other interns have been doing (and their backgrounds) check out the intern Honor Roll at http://www.ga-institute.com/about-the-institute/the-honor-roll.html

Contact Information
Louis D Coppola
Governance & Accountability Institute
New York, New York
Email lcoppola@ga-institute.com
Tel 646.430.8230 ext 14

Quo Vadis on Sustainability Issues in 2017 — As a New Administration & New Congress Come to Town?

Are you holding your breath after the November elections?  Wondering where corporate sustainability or sustainable investing goes from here?  What our public sector positioning may be on issues of importance to the corporate or capital markets communities?

The author of the best seller, “Green to Gold” takes on the Quo Vadis questions regarding sustainability issues as President-elect Donald J. Trump builds and announces his management team, albeit with an unusual method that reminds one of the popular TV show, “The Apprentice.”

In the Harvard Business Review, author Andrew Winston posts that “sustainable business” will move ahead with or without the future Trump Administration’s support or involvement or interference.  Companies will continue on their sustainability journeys because macro forces are driving the movement, he believes.  And we can move forward even without the Federal government’s push (although that support and encouragement is always nice to have as the wind-at-our-backs).

There are five “mega-trends” at work here, author Winston offers up for us.  For example, if you want to install solar or wind power for your business, as a manager you should be encouraged that the cost to build is down by half or much more from prior levels.  (The wind-at-our-back here of course includes the very important public sector support for development of non-fossil-fuel generated power.)

Second, climate change is now well beyond theory, author Winston argues.  The CEO of Kellogg speaking at the Paris COP-21 meetings said for his company, “climate change is mission critical.”  Many other CEOs are publicly or privately thinking/expressing the same thoughts.  Climate-related weather shocks can seriously damage crops — and ripple through food, apparel, fuel and other industrial production.

Third, consider the huge Millennial generation — soon to be half of the global workforce — these men and women are not retreating from the sustainability advances made to date.  Almost 9-out-of-10 of this demographic cohort believes (Winston explains to us) that “…the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than financial performance…”  These Millennial generation men and women are rising fast to positions of power in industry (and in government, finance, NGO management, etc.). They are taking us in a different direction on key societal issues.

Number Four on his list: Social media today can quickly create fame and fortune — or disaster — for the company on the right side or the wrong side of important societal issues — like responsible management of supply chains, and acting responsibly on key social and environmental issues that our society now deems to be important (especially for popular brand marketers).

And then there is the breadth and depth of many governmental commitments for — and action taken on — climate change issues. There was great momentum coming out of the Paris meetings in Fall 2016 and on to the Morocco meetings concluded just days ago.  We are moving inexorably toward a low-carbon economy and many global public sector leaders — unlike the American President-elect’s campaign comments — do not believe “all of this” is a hoax (that is, generated by China). Indeed, as explained in our Top Story, even China has clearly delivered the message:  Climate Change, it’s not a hoax.

We invite your reading of the HBR commentary by Andrew Winston, and suggest that you share it with your colleagues (and especially the “anxious” folks in your circle). Andrew Winston is on target with his projections that the business community will continue to act even if the new Trump Administration does not take positive positions on critical societal sustainability issues.

In this, our weekly newsletter for you, we have added a section with an eye on sustainability issues, with focus on the November-December-January transition to the new executive branch leadership and the coming of the 115th U.S. Congress.  A great deal is at stake on decisions to be taken on many of our societal issues.  We are presenting for you a brief selection of the many news stories and commentaries being published that can help us to understand what may/or may not be in store — regarding the decisions and actions to be taken after January 20, 2017 with regard to sustainability issues.

Sustainable Business Will Move Ahead With or Without Trump’s Support
(Monday - November 21, 2016)
Source: Harvard Business Review - Will the seismic shift in U.S. political leadership have a chilling effect on corporate action around environmental and social issues? The short answer is no.

The Results Are In: Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing by U.S. Asset Managers At All-time High — $8 Trillion!

by Hank Boerner – Chairman & Chief Strategist, G&A Institute

We have an important update for you today: The US SIF Report on “US Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing Trends, 2016,” was released this week.

The top line for you today: In the U.S.A., sustainable, responsible and impact (SRI) investing continues to expand — at a rapid and encouraging pace.

As we read the results of 2016 survey report, we kept thinking about the past 30 or so years of what we first knew as “socially responsible,” “faith-based,” “ethical” (and so on) approaches to investing, and that more recently we declared to be sustainable & responsible investing (SRI). And even more recently, adding “Impact Investing”).

At various times over the years we tried to visualize “how” the future would be in practical terms when many more mainstream investors embraced SRI / ESG approaches in their stock analysis and portfolio decision-making.

We’re happy to report that great progress continues to be made. It may at times have seemed to be slow progress for some of our SRI colleagues, especially the hardy pioneers at Domini, Trillium, Calvert, Zevin, Walden, Christian Brothers/CBIS, As You Sow, Neuberger Berman, and other institutions.  But looking over the past three decades, always, in both “up and down” markets, and especially after the 2008 market crash — sustainable, responsible and impact investment gained ground!

And so, we in the U.S. SRI community anxiously look forward to the every-other-year survey of U.S.A. asset owners and managers to measure the breadth and depth of the pool of assets that are managed following ESG methods, SRI approaches, etc.

Here are the key takeaways for you in the just-released survey by the U.S. Forum for Sustainable & Responsible Investment (US SIF), the trade association of the SRI community that has tracked SRI in its survey efforts since 1995-1996, and the US SIF Foundation.

2016 Survey Highlights:

• At the start of 2016, ESG (“environmental/social/governance”) factors were being considered for US$8.72 trillion of professionally-managed assets in the United States of America.

• SRI Market size: that is 20 percent / or $1-in-$5 of all Assets Under Management (AUM) / for all US-domiciled assets under professional management (that is almost $9 Trillion of the total AUM of $40.3 trillion).

• This is a gain of 33% over the total number ($6.572 trillion in AUM) in the previous US SIF survey results at the start of 2014.

• Surveyed for the 2016 report: a total of 447 institutional investors, 300 money (asset) managers, and 1,043 community investment institutions. This can be described as a diverse group of investors seeking to achieve positive impacts through corporate engagement -or- investing with an emphasis on community, sustainability or advancement of women.

Drivers: Client demand is a major driver – the U.S. asset owners hiring asset (money) management firms are increasingly focused on ESG factors for their investments — as responsible fiduciaries.

ESG Criteria: Survey respondents in the investment community had 32 criteria to select from in the survey, including E-S-G and product related activities (ESG funds); they could add ESG criteria used as well.

What is important to the investors surveyed?  The report authors cited responses such as:

• Environmental investment factors — now apply to $7.79 trillion in AUM.
• Climate Change criteria – now shape $1.42 trillion in AUM – 5 times the prior survey number.
• Clean Technology is a consideration for managers of $354 billion in AUM.
• Social Criteria are applied to $7.78 trillion in AUM.
• Governance issues apply to $7.70 trillion in AUM, 2X the prior survey.
• Product specific criteria apply to $1.97 trillion in AUM.

The Social criteria (the “S” in ESG) include conflict risk; equal employment opportunity and diversity; labor and human rights issues.

Product issues include tobacco and alcohol; these were the typically “screened out” stocks in the earlier days of SRI and remain issues for some investors today.

Mutual Funds:
Among the investment vehicles incorporating ESG factors into investment management, the survey found 519 registered investment companies (mutual funds, variable annuity funds, ETFs, closed-end funds). Total: $1.74 trillion in AUM.

Alternative Investment Vehicles:
There were 413 alternate investment vehicles identified as using ESG strategies (including private equity, hedge funds, VCs). Total: $206 billion in AUM.

Institutional Investors:
The biggie in SRI, with $4.72 trillion in AUM, a 17% increase since the start of 2014 (the last survey). These owners include public employee funds; corporations; educational institutions; faith-based investors; healthcare funds; labor union pension funds; not-for-profits; and family offices.

Community Investing:
The survey included results from 1,043 community investing institutions, including credit unions; community development banks; loan funds; VC funds. Total: $122 billion in AUM. (These institutions typically serve low-to-moderate income individuals and communities and include CDFI’s.)

Proxy Activism:
SRI players are active on the corporate proxy front: From 2014 to 2016, 176 institutional investors and 49 money managers file / co-file shareholder resolutions at U.S. public companies focused on environmental (E) or social (S) issues. (The number remains stable over the past four years, the report tells us.) The major development was that where such resolutions received 17% approval from 2007 to 2009, since 2013, 30% of resolutions received 30% or more approval.

Methodologies/Approaches:
There are five primary ESG incorporation strategies cited by US SIF: (1) Analyzing, selecting best-in-class companies, positive choices for the portfolio; (2) negative approaches / exclusionary approaches for certain sectors or industries or products by/for the fiduciary; (3) methods of ESG integration — considering various ESG risks and opportunities; (4) impact or “outcome” investing, intended to generate social (“S) or environmental (“E”) impact along with financial return; (5) selecting sustainability-themed funds of various types.

Commenting on the survey results, US SIF CEO Lisa Woll observed that as the field grows, some growing pains are to be expected. . .with the continuing concern that too often, limited information is disclosed by survey respondents regarding their ESG assets. While the number of owners and managers say that they are using ESG factors, they do not disclose the specific criteria used. (This could be, say, criteria for clean energy consideration, or labor issues of various kinds.)

The US SIF biannual survey effort began in 1996, looking at year-end 1995 SRI assets under management. In that first year, $639 billion in AUM were identified. By the 2010 report, the $3 billion AUM mark was reached. That sum was doubled by the 2014 report.

Year-upon-year, for us the message was clear in the periodic survey results: The center (the pioneering asset owner and management firms) held fast and key players built on their strong foundations; the pioneers were joined by SRI peers and mainstream capital market players on a steady basis (and so the SRI AUM number steadily grew); and investors — individuals, and institutions — saw the value in adopting SRI approaches.

Today, $1-in-$5 in Assets Under [Professional] Management sends a very strong signal of where the capital markets are headed — with or without public sector “enthusiasm” for the journey ahead in 2017 and beyond!

There is a treasury of information for you in the report, which is available at: www.ussif.org.

Congratulations to the US SIF team for their year-long effort in charting the course of SRI in 2015-2016:  CEO Lisa Woll; Project Directors Meg Voorhes of the US SIF Foundation and Joshua Humphreys of Croatan Institute; Research Team members Farzana Hoque of the Foundation and Croatan Institute staff Ophir Bruck, Christi Electris, Kristin Lang, and Andreea Rodinciuc.

2016 survey sponsors included: Wallace Global Fund; Bloomberg LP; JP Morgan Chase & Co.; Calvert Investments; TIAA Global Asset Management; Candriam Investors Group; KKR; MacArthur Foundation; Neuberger Berman; Saturna Capital (and Amana Mutual Funds Trust); Bank of America; BlackRock; CBIS (Catholic Responsible Investing); Community Capital Management Inc.; ImpactUs; Legg Mason Global Asset Management / ClearBridge Investments; Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing; Sentinel Investments; Trillium Asset Management; Cerulli Associates; and, Walden Asset Management.

A footnote on terminology: Throughout the survey exercise and reporting, terms used include sustainable, responsible and impact investing; sustainable investing; responsible investing; impact investing; and SRI. These are used interchangeably to describe investment practices.

About US SIF:  This is a three-decade old, Washington-DC-based membership association that advances SRI to ensure that capital markets can drive ESG practices. The mission is to work to rapidly shift investment practices toward sustainability, focusing on long-term investment and the generation of positive social and environmental impacts.  SIF Members are investment management and advisory firms; mutual fund companies; research firms; financial planners and advisors; broker-dealers; non-profit associations; pension funds; foundations; community investment institutions; and other asset owners.

Governance & Accountability Institute is a long-time member organization of the U.S. Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (US SIF).

As part of the G&A Institute mission, we are committed to assisting more investing and financial professionals learn more about SRI and ESG — especially younger professionals interested in adopting SRI approaches in their work.  G&A is collaborating with Global Change Advisors to present a one-day certification program hosted at Baruch College/CUNY on December 14, 2016.  Details and registration information is at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/intro-to-corporate-esg-for-investment-finance-professionals-certification-tickets-29052781652

President Elect Donald Trump – What Does it Mean for ESG?

The voters have spoken; their decision is known.  It may not have been the news that was expected, or hoped for, but the Office of the President of the United States of America is now in transition.  What does that mean for advocates of greater corporate and societal sustainability…corporate responsibility…corporate citizenship…a cleaner, lower-carbon economy?  What will happen to the US support of COP 21 goals and objectives?  What about the US low-carbon economy?  What about the SEC views on expanding corporate disclosure to include more ESG information?  What about Dodd-Frank rules now in place – or the rules not yet implemented?

So many questions!  We are now monitoring so many commentaries on these questions and more — and the views offered (very strong, indeed) by experts with deep background in the subject matter.  This week’s Top Stories for you are two views offered by such experts.

Chris Bryant of Bloomberg writes from Frankfurt, Germany in his “Trump Can’t Stop the Energy Revolution.” While President-elect Donald J. Trump can slow down the United States participation in the efforts to constructively address global climate change, he “can tell producers which power generation technologies to buy,” writes Bryant. “That decision will come down to cost in the end.  Right now, coal is losing that battle, while renewables are gaining…”

Coal plants may stay open for longer, thinks Bryant, under a Trump Administration (IF campaign promises are kept); but coal will struggle to compete with cheap natural gas and a large volume of coal-generating [electrical] capacity will be retired by 2030.  This is a terrific piece to share with your colleagues who despair that “coal clouds” will be filling the atmosphere after the new administration comes to office.

Andrew Winston, author of Green to Gold, writing in Huffington Post online, says “Trump Can’t Stop the Clean Economy” in his commentary.  We share his views courtesy of our colleagues at Sustainable Brands in the other Top Story.  “If there is any force greater than whatever propelled Donald Trump to the Presidency,” says Winston, “it is economic.  Nobody, not even a President Trump, can stop all the movement toward the clean economy.  The reason is simple:  It’s now cheaper to cut carbon and use renewable energy than to keep the status quo.”

This commentary also has encouraging content to share with colleagues.  If Donald Trump follows through on what he said he would do on energy and climate, thinks Andrew Bryant, yes, it could have a devastating impact on global political progress on climate change.  He goes on to share his views on clean energy and the competitive pricing for renewables in the USA.  “Renewables have already won,” says Bryant.

We are receiving commentaries from various colleagues in NGOs, investment houses, the public sector, trade and professional associations, and individuals.  We’ll share these over the coming weeks as we move toward the January 20th 2017 transition of power in our federal government.   What are your thoughts?  Share them with us!

 

Top Story

Trump Can’t Stop the Clean Economy
(Wednesday - November 09, 2016)
Source: Andrew Winston Commentary / Huff Post via Sustainable Brands-  If there’s any force greater than whatever propelled Donald Trump into the Presidency, it’s economics. Nobody, not even a President Trump, can stop all movement toward the clean economy. The reason is simple: It’s now cheaper to cut carbon and use renewable energy than to keep the status quo.

Trump Can’t Stop the Energy Revolution
(Wednesday - November 09, 2016)
Source:  Chris Bryant / Bloomberg Commentary from Frankfurt - The planet is warming, dangerously so, and burning more coal will make it worse. President-elect Donald Trump thinks man-made climate change is a hoax and he’s promised to revive the US coal industry by cutting regulation. So renewables are dead in the water, right? Maybe not.

For Finance / Investing Professionals: “ESG” IN FOCUS IN ALL-DAY WORKSHOP Hosted At Baruch College/CUNY – NYC

The interest in sustainable investing continues to rise in the mainstream investment community.  Numerous data & analytics providers, ratings & rankings organizations, and other influentials are busily shaping new approaches in and for the mainstream investment community. Corporate “ESG” factors are an important addition to the ubiquitous Bloomberg terminals, as example (i.e. the ESG Dashboard).  Mainstream asset managers — notably BlackRock, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, State Street, and others — are putting sustainable investment approaches in place and launching new products for clients that are demanding “investable” vehicles for “doing well and doing good” with their assets.

As an investment professional, are you up to speed on these developments?  Need to “be more in the know” about sustainable investing?  Here’s a suggestion:  plan to attend an all-day workshop hosted at the Newman Vertical Campus of Baruch College/CUNY and presented by Governance & Accountability Institute and Global Change Associates (GCA). Participants will receive a Certificate of Completion from G&A Institute and GCA.

Mark the Date:  Wednesday, December 14, 2016
The course begins at 8 a.m. and features a full day of lectures from leaders in the field of sustainable investing and corporate sustainability. A networking lunch is included. The topics to be covered include:

  • What is Corporate ESG & Why It Really Matters to Shareowners;
  • ESG Analysis, Rating & Research;
  • What Investors Need to Know about the Rising Importance of Impact Investing;
  • The Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB);
  • Case Study of Corporate Malfeasance — the VW Case;
  • ESG Equity Fundamental – Data Analytics;
  • About the Baruch CSR-Sustainability Monitor Project; 
  • and, Looking Beyond Corporate Sustainability & Financial Performance.

Presenters include:  Samuel Block, MSCI; Kate Starr, Flat World Partners; Eric Kane, SASB (Healthcare); Hideki Suzuki, Bloomberg LP; Mert Demir, PhD, Weissman Center at Baruch College.  And, there’ll be presentations by the principal organizers: Peter Fusaro of Global Change Associates; and, Hank Boerner, Chairman, and Louis D. Coppola, EVP (and co-founders) of G&A Institute.

We look forward to seeing you there, at Baruch College in December! 

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER for the workshop & for more information on the course offering.

New Training Announcement: Introduction to Corporate Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) for Investment & Finance Professionals Certification

- The Why and How of Applying ESG to Corporate Valuations

New York, NY (November 3, 2016) –  In response to the growing demand for sustainable investing education from asset owners, asset managers, financial analysts and other financial professionals we are pleased to announce a one-day certificate program entitled, “Introduction to Corporate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) for Investment and Finance Professionals.” The program is organized by Governance & Accountability Institute (G&A) in collaboration with Global Change Associates (GCA) and hosted by the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College/CUNY.

The first all-day certification program will be presented on Thursday, December 14, 2016. The program is being hosted at Baruch College’s Newman Vertical Campus (55 Lexington Avenue) in midtown Manhattan.  The course will begin at 8 a.m. with registration and continental breakfast, leading into a full day of lectures from leaders in the sustainable investing field.  A networking lunch is included.  Participants will receive a certificate of completion from G&A and GCA at the 5 p.m. close of the seminar.

AGENDA

Arrival, Registration & Continental Breakfast

What is Corporate ESG and Why It Really Matters to Shareowners
Hank Boerner, Chairman & Co-Founder, Governance & Accountability Institute

Bridging the Perceived Gap Between Corporate Sustainability & Corporate Profitability: Materiality, Risk Management and How Top and Bottom Lines Are Affected
Louis Coppola, EVP & Co-Founder, Governance & Accountability Institute

Coffee Break and Networking

ESG Analysis, Rating, and Research
Samuel Block, Research Analyst – Investment ESG Risk, MSCI

What Investors Need to Know About the Rising Importance of Impact Investing
Kate Starr (Invited), Founder & CIO, Flat World Partners; formerly Vice President-Capital Deployment, Heron Foundation

Networking Lunch

SASB 101: About the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and More Effective 10-k Disclosure
Eric Kane, Sector Analyst – Health Care, SASB

Case Study of Corporate Malfeasance:  The VW Emissions Scandal
Peter Fusaro, Chairman, Global Change Associates

Break

ESG Equity Fundamentals Data Analytics
Hideki Suzuki, ESG Group, Equity Fundamentals Department, Bloomberg LP

About the Baruch CSR-Sustainability Monitor Project
Mert Demir, Ph.D. in Finance, Senior Research Associate, Weismann Center for International Business at Baruch College

Looking Beyond Corporate Sustainability & Financial Performance
Louis Coppola, EVP & Co-Founder, Governance & Accountability Institute
Peter Fusaro, Chairman, Global Change Associates
Lecturers include leading experts in the sustainable investing field and the participants will come away with an understanding of why ESG matters, and how to apply ESG to corporate valuations, reputation, risk, opportunity and other aspects of financial analysis.

For information and to register click the link below: 
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/intro-to-corporate-esg-for-investment-finance-professionals-certification-tickets-29052781652

About Baruch College (http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/)
Baruch College is a senior college in the City University of New York (CUNY) with a total enrollment of more than 18,000 students, who represent 164 countries and speak more than 129 languages. Ranked among the top 15% of U.S. colleges and the No. 5 public regional university, Baruch College is regularly recognized as among the most ethnically diverse colleges in the country. As a public institution with a tradition of academic excellence, Baruch College offers accessibility and opportunity for students from every corner of New York City and from around the world.

About Governance & Accountability Institute, Inc. (www.ga-institute.com)
Governance & Accountability Institute is a New York City-based sustainability research, consulting and educational services company working with corporate sector and investment community clients. Typical engagements include preparation of sustainability, CSR and citizenship reports; peer benchmarking on ESG issues and reporting; customized ESG research (environmental, social and governance performance); strategic materiality analysis; sustainable investor relations; corporate communications around sustainability; and assistance with stakeholder engagements. The company is the exclusive Data Partner for the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) for the USA, UK and the Republic of Ireland.


About Global Change Associates (www.global-change.com)
Peter C. Fusaro founded Global Change Associates, Inc. in 1991 to focus on the convergence of energy and environmental financial markets. His insights have earned him the international status of “thought leader” in these markets. His advice to client companies who require expert guidance to navigate their way through the multiple impacts of clean energy, natural gas and water technologies has proven invaluable to them. The focus of GCA today is to assist in raising funds for clean energy funds as a Registered Representative and to assist in the commercialization of new energy technologies. Peter holds the highly successful Wall Street Green Summit (www.wsgts.com) now in its 16th year and held in New York City each spring.

Lots of Important Sustainability Events & Training To Tell You About!

Today we call your attention to a number of events and training initiatives that may be of interest if you are:

  1. A corporate manager with responsibilities in the areas of [corporate] citizenship, sustainability, ESG, responsibility, and related areas, or
  2. Working in the capital markets and want to learn more about these topics, or
  3. Working in another field and would like to join a company or investor organization focused on sustainability and sustainable investing…

An important part of the G&A Institute mission since our founding a decade ago is to help educate, inform and share critical information related to the above topics and positions.  As an example we work closely with Skytop Strategies on many events such as the ESG Summit, 21st Century Company, and Future of Corporate Reporting that educate and inform on these subjects.  We’d like to tell you about a few of our most recent initiatives in these areas.

Introduction to the Importance of Corporate ESG for Investment & Finance Professionals at Baruch College 
Watch for announcements soon about a new program offering we’ve organized in partnership with Baruch University and Global Change Associates (headed by G&A Fellow Peter Fusaro) — this is an all-day “Introduction to the Importance of Corporate ESG for Investment and Finance Professionals.”  We’ll have speakers from Bloomberg, MSCI, Sustainability Accounting Standards Board and other organizations sharing valuable information.  Save the date:  December 14th at the Newman Vertical Campus in mid-town Manhattan.

G&A Sustainability Training HQ Platform & CCRSS Course Offering
The “Certification in Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Strategies” in partnership with Professor Nitish Singh of St Louis University, is the first course offering on the new “G&A Sustainability Training HQ” online training platform.

To learn more about the special introductory G&A Sustainability Training Pioneers Program for this course (including a special discount and extra recognition as a leader in this area), contact Louis Coppola at G&A: lcoppola@ga-institute.com.   Click here for more information and to register for the course.

Join G&A for a Special GRI Standards Launch Event Webinar
We’ve been communicating with you about the important event coming up at Bloomberg Headquarters in New York City– the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) Sustainability Standards Launch Event scheduled for Wednesday, November 3rd.  We’ve learned that the registration for the in-person event is now full and closed.

You can still learn about the new GRI Standards via the convenience of a lunchtime webinar:  Governance & Accountability Institute invites you on behalf of GRI to join us in celebrating the launch of the GRI Sustainability Standards on an informative one-hour webinar led by GRI’s Alyson Genovese on Thursday, November 10th at 12 Noon Eastern Standard Time (EST).

Whether you are new to sustainability reporting or a seasoned veteran, this webinar is designed to provide you with an interactive, detailed overview of the very latest in sustainability reporting. You’ll be guided through the new GRI Standards, important background and benefits, and you’ll be receiving an excellent overview of the changes from the current G4 Guidelines. You’ll have ample opportunity to ask questions to both GRI and G&A (reminder: we’re the exclusive GRI Data Partner in the USA, United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, member of the GRI Data Consortium, and a Gold Community Member).

To learn more and register for this free event, please visit: 
https://goo.gl/forms/jVPOVUL19Jzd1WnB3

If you have questions or want to learn more, please contact Louis Coppola at lcoppola@ga-institute.com.

IMPORTANT NEWS: The New GRI Standard For Corporate Reporting Has Now Been Released To Replace The GRI G4

JOIN US IN PERSON OR VIRTUALLY TO LEARN MORE

The most commonly used sustainability reporting standard for corporate and institutional reporting on an organization’s economic, environmental and social/societal impacts – The Global Reporting Initiative’s (“GRI”) framework -  has now moved from the fourth generation (G4) to the new modular GRI Standards.  The titles of these corporate reports prepared using the GRI approach to disclosure carry varying titles:  Corporate Sustainability, Corporate Responsibility, Corporate Citizenship, Environmental Stewardship, and more.

Since the launch of the first GRI framework in 1999-2000, more than 30,000 such reports have been published, the overwhelming majority by companies (publicly-traded and privately-owned, from macro-and large-cap down to smaller enterprises).  Companies from around the world are well represented in the global reporting database maintained by GRI in Amsterdam, where it is headquartered. While reports are filed from Europe, Asia/Pacific, Africa, Latin America, and North America. It’s worth noting here that GRI was birthed in the United States, in great measure modeled on the earlier reporting framework efforts for corporations developed by the Ceres organization in Boston.

While European-based companies in earlier years dominated in utilizing the framework, in recent years U.S. companies have well made up for any gap, in various industry and sector categories.  G&A Institute researchers closely follow the important S&P 500® universe, and we found that in 2010, about 20% were publishing sustainability / responsibility reports; that percentage climbed to over 50% in 2011, reached the mid-70s% mark in 2012 and 2013, and last year (2015) we reported that 81% of the 500 firms were on board with reporting – the majority by far using the GRI framework.

Over a decade-and-a-half, the global framework has evolved through a comprehensive multi-party development process, moving from “G1” up through G3 to today’s G4.  And now there is a significant development for you to tune in to:  The Global Reporting Initiative is formally launching the GRI Standards.  The new modular structure will feature three (3) universal standards and a selection of 33 topic-specific Standards to cover specific economic (financial), environmental and social (or societal) topics.
The advantages of the new Standard include having a modular structure for ease of updating and suitability for inclusion in, say, government-mandates for corporate reporting schemes, such as the new Accounting Standard in the 28 European Union nations.  Current GRI reporters will find the approach familiar; there are the familiar General Disclosures, Management Approaches, and Performance Indicators. Companies in the GRI “Gold Community” are already early adopters of the GRI Standards (G&A Institute is proud to be a Gold Community company).

There’s much more to know about the new GRI Standards — whether you are new to sustainability reporting or a seasoned veteran.  GRI is inviting you to help GRI celebrate the launch of the Standards at  Bloomberg LP headquarters in New York City on November 2 from 11am to 2pm.  The new Standards will have a “guided tour” by GRI staff, and we’ll learn more about the transition from current G4 Guidelines, as well as having our questions answered by GRI team members who were involved in developing the Standards.

To learn more and register for this free event at Bloomberg, please visit:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/gri-standards-launch-event-new-york-registration-28340058879

Unable to attend the event at Bloomberg, but want to learn more?
G&A Institute is hosting a webinar with GRI’s Alyson Genovese to discuss the transition to our network of interested organizations.  Join us for a webinar on November 10, 2016 at 12pm EST. Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned reporter, this webinar will give you an interactive, detailed overview of the new GRI Standards, gaining an excellent oversight on the changes from the current G4 Guidelines. You’ll also have ample opportunity to ask questions and learn about next steps.

Register for the G&A Webinar here:
https://goo.gl/forms/68FmZZoZMMOTjgPQ2

GRI is also hosting a series of in-person launch events around the globe.
Visit this site for a full list of locations and dates.

With questions or to learn more, please contact Louis Coppola at lcoppola@ga-institute.com

As you may know, Governance & Accountability Institute has been the exclusive Data Partner for the GRI in the United States of America since 2010; we are also the DP for the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.  In this role we receive and analyze more than 1,500 corporate and institutional reports each year.  Contact us for more information about how we can help you and your organization with your GRI reporting and transition over the coming months to the new Standard.

Stay Tuned to the new GRI Standards!