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newsletter 07/2016

Our topics:

1. In-house news

- oekom research Opens Branch Office in London

2. oekom Services

- oekom research publishes Industry Focus for the Construction industry

3. Market

- Europe: 62 percent of institutional investors incorporate sustainability into their investment strategies

- ESG consideration for UK pension funds required

4. Studies/Publications

- International Energy Agency: 2016 Theme Report on Energy and Air Pollution

- UN General Assembly publishes first results of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

5. Books

- Camille Gaskin-Reyes (publisher): Water Planet: The Culture, Politics, Economics, and Sustainability of Water on Earth

6. Events

- Responsible Investor: ESG in Manager Selection 2016

7. Jobs

- Manager Research Services (m/f)



1. In-house news

oekom research Opens Branch Office in London

Jaspreet Duhraoekom research is ramping up its presence in the UK with the opening of a new branch office in London. Under the capable supervision of veteran ESG and SRI expert Jaspreet Duhra as Senior Manager Client Relations, oekom research is aiming to expand and develop its contacts with British investors. Although oekom research had already been represented in the financial centre of London through a cooperation with SI Partners since 2014, it is now acknowledging the growing importance of the market by opening a subsidiary of its own.

Through her ten-year service at competitor Vigeo Eiris, Jaspreet Duhra has acquired extensive experience in the sustainability-rating and responsible-investment sector, and is very familiar with the UK market. For many of those years, she worked closely with a wide range of index providers and institutional investors, and was also responsible for further developing the research portfolio. Before working in Vigeo Eiris’s sales team, Jaspreet Duhra worked as a sustainability analyst at Eiris as well as at Sustainable Finance Ltd.

By opening the London office, oekom research is taking a further step towards expanding and internationalising its business, thus positioning it to better support its growing number of international accounts, and underpin its presence in a global market environment. Only in June of this year, it also opened a subsidiary in New York to develop and serve the North American market. In addition to these, it has also been running a Paris office since 2011, and a representation in the Netherlands since the start of the year.

“Expanding and intensifying our operations in the UK is a very important step for us: in our capacity as a partner and service provider for sustainable investments, a local presence is the only way we can offer the market players adequate onsite support,” says oekom research CEO, Robert Haßler. “The political changes emerging from the Brexit vote, and new fundamentals that will follow the UK’s departure from the EU will in no way impair our commitment to the UK market. In Jaspreet Duhra, we have strengthened our international sales team with an experienced and dedicated associate. We’re greatly looking forward to working with her,” he continues.

“Throughout my ten-year career in sustainable investments, oekom research has always been a benchmark and model example for me,” adds Jaspreet Duhra. “Its pioneering spirit, innovative strength and meticulous quality demands are iconic qualities of the company. I’m therefore all the more delighted to be able to contribute my know-how and experience to this company and in the service of sustainability,” she declares.

Contact: Dieter Niewierra, Director Communications, niewierra@oekom-research.com, +49 (0) 89 5441 8457


2. oekom Services

oekom research publishes Industry Focus for the Construction industry

oekom Industry Focus ConstructionThe Construction industry encompasses businesses whose core activities consist of planning and building houses, roads, bridges and industrial complexes. From a sustainability perspective, this industry continues to be confronted with numerous challenges: the United Nations, for example, estimate that around 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions arise from the usage of buildings and infrastructure facilities. Other examples such as the often-precarious safety measures which are found in some construction projects and have caused multiple fatal accidents, or corruption, as confirmed by e.g. recent revelations under the title “The Bribe Factory”, show that these problems are more than just isolated incidents in the industry.

How Construction industry companies deal with these and other sustainability-related action areas is the subject of the updated oekom Industry Focus Construction. It offers a summarised industry comparison of key, selected analysis results such as best performers, frequent controversies and central industry-specific sustainability topics, as well as sustainability achievements.

In its latest analysis, oekom research scrutinised 78 Construction industry businesses based on social and environmental criteria. The best overall rating on a scale from A+ (best score) to D- was B-, awarded to Berkeley Group Holdings PLC (GB), followed by C+ for both Acciona SA (ES) and Vinci SA (FR).

The oekom Industry Focus Construction is available free of charge at: 
info@oekom-research.com. 


3. Market

Europe: 62 percent of institutional investors incorporate sustainability into their investment strategies

UI: Sustainable asset managemetn by institutional investorsA recent survey conducted by Union Investment found that the majority of Europe’s institutional investors incorporate sustainability and integrate social and environmental criteria into their investment decisions. Over 800 institutional investors were polled in ten countries across Europe. In a country breakdown, Scandinavian countries ranked best, with 74 percent of their large investors declaring that they invest sustainably. Scandinavia is followed closely by Switzerland and Austria with 71 and 70 percent respectively. In Germany, 60 percent of the respondents said that ESG aspects played a role in their investment decisions, the same being reiterated by institutional investors in the Netherlands, at 54 percent, and the UK, with 50 percent.

If one looks at sustainable investments as a share of the total volume invested in all assets, Scandinavia’s large investors once again take top position with 61 percent, significantly above the European average of just 39 percent. In the Netherlands and UK – notably the countries in which fewer investors declared their use of sustainability criteria – the proportionate volumes of sustainable investments are surprisingly the second and third highest (at 53 percent for the Netherlands and 43 percent for the UK). The study’s authors believe that this unexpected result is perhaps because “Dutch and British investors take the matter very seriously, but only after they have finally decided to implement a sustainable strategy.” At just 33 percent, Germany is in last place but one, ahead of Italy.

Across Europe, the asset classes equities, fixed income and real estate account for around two thirds of the sustainably managed funds. European investors’ most commonly chosen SRI strategies are “Exclusion criteria” (54 percent) and “Positive screening” (47 percent). “Best-in-class” is used by 41 percent.

Overall, the survey points to a significant need for advisory on sustainable capital investments: 32 percent of European institutional investors admitted to a very large backlog at their own companies in this regard. 39 percent also confirmed a substantial general market demand for consulting.

The report on the survey’s findings “Sustainable Asset Management By Institutional Investors" is available at: https://unternehmen.union-investment.de/startseite/newsroom/downloadservice/studien/mainContent/0/tabArea/02/tabItemArea/4/listArea/05/linkBinary/Sustainable_asset_management.pdf.


ESG consideration for UK pension funds required

A new code of practice published by The Pensions Regulator requires trustees of UK pension funds to consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors when making investment decisions, where such factors are “financially significant”. The new guidance sees ESG as a part of fiduciary duty and already received UK Government approval in May. It is to be understood as an investment governance guide and asks trustees to take into account factors that are financially material to any investment’s performance – such as the effects of climate change.

Having started consultations already in 2014, The Pensions Guide has worked with several organisations – including UK SIF and ShareAction – to clarify how trustees treat their scheme’s investment, particularly with a view to ESG matters.

The new code of practice also puts light on the current discussion and negotiation within the European Union. According to a report by Responsible Investor, pension funds in the European Union would be forced to assess climate change and social risks under a revision of the Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORP) directive, which governs EU pension funds. Final vote for this directive is expected to be at an EU parliamentary plenary session in October.

For further information, please click on the link http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/docs/dc-investment-guide.pdf.

 


4. Studies/Publications

International Energy Agency: 2016 Theme Report on Energy and Air Pollution

IEA: Energy & Air PollutionIn its inaugural publication “Energy and Air Pollution”, the International Energy Agency (IEA) investigates the connections between energy, air pollution and health risks. Each year, up to 6.5 million mortalities are attributed to air pollution worldwide. A common source of the pollution is the energy sector. The report aims to highlight the scope of the problem, explore the causes and broach possible solutions.

According to the report, 85 percent of the health-endangering air pollutants fine particulates, sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide are released through (partially) uncontrolled or incomplete fuel combustion. Causes include poverty as well as economic growth and urbanisation driven strongly by fossil fuels. With respect to the 2015 Paris Climate Protection Agreement and its implications for the energy sector, the study’s authors are banking on progress in the area of air pollution control as well. Overall, however, they are anticipating a global increase in health damage and deaths from manmade air pollution over the period up to 2040.

The IEA juxtaposes this scenario with the “Clean Air Scenario” describing a catalogue of measures which is tuned to regional particularities and based on existing technologies and proven remedies such as long-term air quality targets.

The theme report “Energy and Air Pollution 2016” can be downloaded here: http://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/WorldEnergyOutlookSpecialReport2016EnergyandAirPollution.pdf.


UN General Assembly publishes first results of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

UN Global SDG ReportThe United Nations’ Economic and Social Council has published an initial status report on the Sustainable Development Goals endorsed by the UN Sustainability Summit in 2015. The 17 sustainability goals of the so-called Agenda 2030, which aim at improving every individual’s living conditions and protecting planet Earth, are measured and assessed using a specially developed set of global indicators. The results are used to determine the extent to which the set goals have been – or still have to be – achieved.

The meanwhile published progress report – which is to appear annually in future – explains the techniques used to gauge the global indicators and provides an overview of the availability of the information and the challenges associated with gathering statistical data.

Following this year’s High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, the pertinent data is now also available for Germany. The report describes the steps which have already been taken in Germany to implement Agenda 2030, as well as the steps planned for the future, examining all 17 goals in doing so. Germany is one of the forerunners when it comes to providing national data.


Further information is available here: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/2328Global%20Sustainable%20development%20report%202016%20(final).pdf.


5. Books

Camille Gaskin-Reyes (publisher): Water Planet: The Culture, Politics, Economics, and Sustainability of Water on Earth

Water PlanetIn her book “Water Planet”, Georgetown University professor Camille Gaskin-Reyes looks at the environmental sustainability challenges and topics connected with water as a raw material and elixir of life. In doing so, she focuses on the central value which water has for mankind and human culture.

Water-related ESG risks are described from a political, cultural, economic and scientific perspective using case studies and evidence, while opposing views are also taken up and discussed. As an example, she describes conflicts in which measures needed to correct or mitigate the global water problem directly oppose socially accepted traditions and values. In a time in which climate change and other disruptions to the Earth’s ecosystem are causing a scarcity of clean drinking water in some regions, and extensive flooding by too much water in others, “Water Planet” tries to find answers to how we can collectively safeguard the very basis of our existence: water.

The book is to be released in October 2016. Further information is available at: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/water-planet-camille-e-gaskin-reyes/1123562463?ean=9781440838163.


6. Events

Responsible Investor: ESG in Manager Selection 2016

ESG news portal Responsible Investor is inviting interested parties to London’s Grange St. Paul’s Hotel on 12 October under the motto “ESG in Manager Selection”. Asset owners are increasingly demanding that ESG aspects be incorporated into their investment portfolios: according to the Asset Owner Survey 2015, around two thirds of asset owners meanwhile take investment know-how and ability into account in their choice of asset managers. The extent to, and way in, which asset owners apply sustainability criteria when engaging and monitoring their asset managers, investment consultants and fund pickers is a focal point of this year’s conference.
 
This will be the sixth “ESG in Manager Selection” symposium. 160 companies were represented at last year’s meeting. For further information, please visit:
https://www.responsible-investor.com/events/events_page/esg_in_manager_selection_2016/.


7. Jobs

Manager Research Services (m/f)

oekom research is looking for a Manager Research Services (m/f) in our head office in Munich. Working at the interface between our research department and our clients, the key responsibilities associated with this role include: ESG portfolio analyses, preparation of output lists for clients, drafting of second-party opinions for green bond emissions, client support, and participation in tendering procedures.

The ideal candidate will have experience in the field of sustainability management or sustainable investment and will have strong project management qualities and communication skills (verbal and written).



The position is to be filled as soon as possible. Further information is available on https://oekom-research.softgarden.io/job/481396 (German).


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