We are just past one month into the year 2018 and there have already been significant advances that directly affect the lives of professionals and organizations in the fields of corporate sustainability and sustainable investing – the two vital halves of the capital markets – and in related fields.
Does Wall Street finally care about sustainability? A noted sustainability author (Andrew Winston) muses about this in the pages of the influential journal for the C-suite – the Harvard Business Review. Yes, we think – more and more asset owners and managers are getting aboard the train...but there is work to do. And what about corporate boards and CEOs...”
Volume & Velocity Those may well be the key characteristics of developments in corporate sustainability and in sustainable investing in the year 2018.
Linda-Eling Lee, Global Head of Research for MSCI’s ESG Research Group and her colleague Matt Moscardi (Head of Research Financial Sector, ESG) this week described what they are projecting in the traditional early-in-the-year setting out of key ESG trends to watch by the influential MSCI ESG team:
Huffington Post writer Lauren DeMates has her “Top 10” list up for the 2017 forces that shaped (in her opinion) sustainability. Guiding her choice: “…many of 2017’s activities were prompted by the unprecedented attack on science and environmental protection by the Trump administration. However, efforts to counteract the anti-environmental agenda and work towards a more sustainable society have been unprecedented as well...”
And in that context, she identifies the following:
A significant new player is now entering the mix of the growing number of organizations providing institutional investors with ESG rankings and data. At G&A Institute, we've been tracking the growth of these organizations (such as MSCI, Sustainalytics, RobecoSAM, Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters, and others) and work with our clients to help managements understand, optimize and utilize these important intelligence points coming from the rapidly-growing number of investors considering ESG.
Once again, the authoritative Harvard Business Review weighs in on corporate sustainability with a commentary piece on the top trends of 2017 – with “big leaps both forward and backward” in the year just concluded. And there was some predictability, writes author Andrew Winston in his commentary, as he says he predicted: “…the context for sustainable business in 2017 may center on the competition between two stories, the election of Donald Trump and significant action on climate change…”
The stage was set in 1970 by Professor Milton Friedman, who wrote in a New York Times Magazine essay: The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits. He famously said in conclusion: “here is one and only one social responsibility of business–to use it resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud."
Harvard Business Review is one of the most powerful of external influences for the corporate C-suite. Ideas, concepts and themes appearing in the pages (digital and print) of HBR create important initiatives in American companies. HBR editors are focusing these days on corporate sustainability in various dimensions.
The foundation for the significant progress made in so many spheres of society in the 20th Century was...Oil! The oil-producing nations of the world amassed great wealth with the marketing of oil and petroleum-derived products; those products enabled fantastic progress to be made in industry, government, agriculture, the consumer sector...throughout our modern society.