Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


investors begin work on global principles

September 2004

Major institutional investors around the world are to develop a set of global principles for responsible investment.

The investors will refer to the principles when deciding whether particular environmental, social and governance issues are relevant to their portfolios, and if so, how they should be addressed.

They hope to have agreed the principles by September 2005.

The project, christened the ‘Responsible Investment Initiative’, has been set up as a result of a recent meeting of more than 40 investors and fund managers in Paris, organized by the United Nations Environment Programme’s Finance Initiative and hosted by Groupama Asset Management. The more than 250 signatories to Unep’s Finance Initiative, mainly banks and financial services companies, agree to work together to improve their social and environmental performance.

Klaus Toepfer, Unep’s executive director, said that although there have been some national initiatives in this area, such as the Association of British Insurers guidelines issued three years ago, global investment principles on social and environmental matters were now needed for mainstream investment funds.

‘The world’s largest banks have the Equator Principles [on project lending] to guide their actions in a manner supportive of sustainable development, and we believe the investor community is now ready for similar principles to help with the complex process of responsible investment that meets investor expectations,’ he said.

Toepfer indicated that the guidelines would probably stress the need for investors to move away from a short-term view of investments so more account can be taken of social and environmental factors.

Unep will now convene a group of major investors ‘to jointly explore how to best develop and disseminate the principles’. The World Bank, OECD and IMF will be involved.

Asset managers supporting the project are expected to include Acuity Investment Management (Canada), BNP Paribas (France), Citigroup (US), Morley (UK), Nikko (Japan) and San Paolo IMI (Italy).

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