Sustainable Investing Has Moved Into the Mainstream -- and UBS Survey Results Send Strong Signals This is a Lasting Trend

Sustainable Investing Has Moved Into the Mainstream -- and UBS Survey Results Send Strong Signals This is a Lasting Trend

There is no doubt now -- the world’s largest asset managers are definitely focused on corporate sustainability and sustainable investing (the two go hand-in-hand) as survey after survey is telling us. In recent years we seen considerable momentum as asset owners and their managers adopt or further enhance their sustainable investing / ESG investing approaches.
And to gauge the progress we’re seeing major, global asset managers busily take the pulse of the capital market players.

Take for example UBS, one of the world’s leading asset managers, which regularly surveys asset managers.  James Purcell, Global Head of Sustainable and Impact Investing at UBS Wealth Management shares the latest findings in a sponsored editorial post in the Harvard Business Review, and assures executive-level readers:

“Sustainability doesn’t mean one potentially has to give up returns. In fact it may be contributing to the investment process by adding more pertinent non-financial information. In this, we have reached a ‘why not’ moment.”

UBS, the commentary explains, is ambitious in wanting to shape the future of sustainable investing because the company believes these investments can help clients pursue investments according to their values.  And – because UBS is confident that sustainable investing will remain a widely-accepted way of investing.

And so in the content shared on HBR, the company explains the signals that sustainable investing should be seen as a lasting, major force in the capital markets.  Among these signals:

  • Urgent challenges such as climate change (presented to both companies and investors).
  • The Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the UN SDGs, the aims of the EU High Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance – all of these actively suggest solutions to global challenges that are now at a scale demanding critical mass. (We have but 10 years to go to change the direction of perilous global warming, science experts tell us.)
  • At the same time, customers, shareholders and employees are aligning their values and leveraging their investments for the public good. That is impacting (positively) sustainable investing.
  • This trend creates new demands on institutions to make ESG performance and sustainable investment part of the long-term strategy.
  • Asset owners are heeding the call – see the Principles for Responsible Investing (PRI) for reports on the progress of asset owners (the PRI signatories) and their asset managers. (PRI was launched in 2006 with 63 investment companies committing to incorporate ESG issues into investment decision.  This year there are 2,450 signatories representing US$82 trillion in collective AUM!)
  • Three of four asset owners surveyed by UBS say that they consider ESG management approaches and results as one of the key issues looked at when choosing an asset manager.
  • These and other factors (outlined in the commentary) are clear demonstration – important signals! -- of the extent to which the mainstreaming of ESG has evolved over recent years.

In the 2018 UBS Investor Watch Global Survey, 81% of respondents said they wanted to align their consumer spending patterns with their values.

In the 2019 UBS survey of investors (“ESG: Do You, or Don’t You?”) more four-of-ten respondents already have sustainable investments in their portfolios and expect a positive impact on financial performance. Eight-of-ten respondents said they thoughts “sustainable companies” were good investments (they’re perceived as better managed, more forward-thinking).

In 2019, UBS teamed with Responsible Investor to gauge the extent of ESG investing.  Europe had the highest proportion of asset owners active in ESG investing (82% of owners). North America is catching up with 70% of respondents saying they were “do-ers” (making ESG material their day-to-day activity) and 19% were “adopters” (not yet focused day-to-day on ESG but planning to integrate in the future).

Just in time!

Opening this week’s COP 25 meetings, UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres challenged those assembled (and millions more tuning in)  by asking – Do we really want to be remembered as the generation that buried its head in the sand, that fiddled while the planet burned? (Or, follow of path of resolve, of sustainable solutions).

The UBS commentary is a message of hope – and there is a handy sidebar explain sustainable investing which his of value.  We invite your reading of this week’s Top Story and the other items (including more sustainable investment items) that Editor-in-Chief Ken Cynar and the G&A team has selected for you this week.


Top Stories

Is Sustainable Investing Moving Into the Mainstream?
Source: Harvard Business Review - Sustainable investing, which incorporates environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria into investment decisions, has been gaining more attention among both individual investors and asset managers in the world’s largest...



G&A Institute Sustainability Update
Informative, insightful, thought provoking
Governance & Accountability Institute's blog focusing on the sustainable world evolving daily before our eyes. Read it, absorb it, question it and challenge.

The World Economic Forum on Corporate Citizenship Topics – With Focus on the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Climate Change Crisis – “Covering Climate Now” Can Shape The Public Dialogue – And Influence Outcomes

Tune In To This Important Report – Today And In Time to Come: The Fourth Official “Climate Science Special Report” Issued by the U.S. Government’s “Global Change Research Program” – Projected the Critical Impacts of Climate Change on the American Society in the 21st Century





FLASH REPORT: 60% of Russell 1000® Are Publishing Sustainability Reports, G&A Institute’s 2018 Inaugural Benchmark Study Shows

FLASH REPORT: 86% of S&P 500 Index® Companies Publish Sustainability / Responsibility Reports in 2018

Learn More About G&A Research



Sustainability Standards Setters & Policy Makers

Supply and demand: the business case for full transparency 
Source: GRI

ISO Paints Brighter Future with Guide for Sustainability in Standards Development 
Source: ISO

U.S. House leaders call for a nationwide goal to achieve 100% clean energy by 2050 
Source: Ceres

United Nations Global Compact issues new report to help companies advance human rights 
Source:  UN Global Compact

ESG / Sustainable & Responsible Investment

MSCI ESG Research makes MSCI ESG Ratings of over 2,800 companies publicly available 
Source:  MSCI

Sustainalytics Endorses the UN Principles for Responsible Banking
Source:  Sustainalytics

The evolution of ESG investing in Asia
Source: The Asset 

Corporate Sustainability / ESG

Samsung Receiving Industry’s First Global Recognition for Environmental Sustainability of its Semiconductor Solutions
Source: Samsung Newsroom 

How Salesforce, Google, others use tech as a ‘force multiplier’ in sustainability innovation
Source: Green Biz 

Five ways that ESG creates value 
Source:  McKinsey

New Ceres report calls on corporate boards to oversee sustainability risks as global climate and water crises worsen 
Source:  Ceres

Can Corruption in Your Value Chain Lead to Complicity in Gross Human Rights Abuses? 
Source:  BSR

Amazon's Jeff Bezos promises climate-change action 
Source:  BBC

Global Sustainability News: Forward Momentum!

Australian National Airline Announces Ambitious Sustainability Plan
Source: The Rising 

Why climate and sustainability professionals need to take the next step in our evolution
Source: GreenBiz 

Scientists Just Created a Bacteria That Eats CO2 to Reduce Greenhouse Gases
Source: Discover Magazine 

Sustainability Matters!

Four Truths and One Lie About Sustainability
Source: Forbes 

The economic toll of climate change
Source: Axios

Mind the Gap: Business Impact Measurement 
Source:  CECP

Bins to Panels: Ways Australia is Embracing Sustainability  
Source: Nature World News 

And of interest to all who partake foods & beverage this day!



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