Digital library on sustainable finance

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TITLE Holders of Last Resort: The Role of Index Funds and Index Providers in Divestment and Climate Change
AUTHOR Patrick Jahnke
PUBLISHED Feb 2019
LANGUAGES EN 
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Summary

This paper shows how passive funds can make a full contribution to mitigating climate change. As a growing number of institutional asset owners are divesting from coal assets, index funds are becoming the holders of last resort. The common wisdom has it that index funds cannot sell out of individual stock holdings. This paper investigates the relationship between index providers and index funds and finds the traditional understanding that index investors cannot sell to be false. Instead an increasing prevalence of index investors switching both indices and index providers is noted.

The paper also suggests a number of solutions for index funds to reduce the carbon intensity of their funds, such as switching the indices their funds employ, discontinuing niche ETFs that are carbon intensive, reducing fees on low-carbon investments, or making use of their financial clout, as index providers’ biggest customers, to advocate for selective index amendments.

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TITLE Spotlight on Responsible Investment in Private Debt
AUTHOR Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI)
PUBLISHED Feb 2019
LANGUAGES EN 
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Summary

The core concepts of responsible investment are the consideration of ESG factors in investment decisions and investor stewardship, alongside a commitment to both corporate and investor transparency. Such concepts apply to all asset classes, but there are differences in the way practitioners implement responsible investment depending on whether they invest in public or private debt or equity, and in liquid or illiquid markets.

To date, little has been written about how investors can invest responsibly in private debt. This paper aims to promote better understanding of the rationale for responsible investment in the context of private debt investments, and is based on desk research, interviews with 18 investors and industry stakeholders, and group discussions among PRI signatories.

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TITLE The Missing Link. Linking Financial Stability with Environmental Stability
AUTHOR Ecos
PUBLISHED Feb 2019
LANGUAGES EN 
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Summary

This publication explores "the missing link” that exists between financial stability and environmental stability and is based on research conducted in 2017/2018 which was completed during the last OECD Forum on Green Finance and Investment. It discusses the role prudential authorities such as central banks, financial supervisory authorities, or standard setters, should play in assessing and mitigating climate-related risks.

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The_missing_link_Policy-Recommendations (pdf 2.7 MB)
TITLE Guide for pension fund beneficiaries
AUTHOR WWF Switzerland
PUBLISHED Feb 2019
LANGUAGES DE  FR  IT 
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Summary

Along with the Swiss Pension Funds Rating 2018/2019, WWF Switzerland also published a guide for pension fund beneficiaries.

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TITLE Social Impact Investment 2019. The Impact Imperative for Sustainable Development.
AUTHOR OECD
PUBLISHED Jan 2019
LANGUAGES EN 
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Summary

This publication is a sequel to the OECD 2015 report on Social Impact Investment (SII), Building the Evidence Base, bringing new evidence on the role of SII in financing sustainable development. It depicts the state of play of SII approaches globally, comparing regional trends, and assesses its prospects, with a special focus on data issues and recent policy developments.

Importantly, it provides new guidance for policy makers in OECD and non-OECD countries, as well as providers of development co-operation, development financers, social impact investment practitioners and the private sector more broadly, to help them maximise the contribution of social impact investing to the 2030 Agenda.

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TITLE On Values in Finance and Ethics
AUTHOR Henry Schäfer
PUBLISHED Jan 2019
LANGUAGES EN 
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Summary

Why has conventional capital market theory and the theory of finance ignored systematically ethics in the last decades? Are ethics and finance really counterparts? These and many other questions are tackled in the latest book of Prof. Dr. Henry Schäfer, which delivers an overarching discussion and analysis of the building blocks of modern capital market theory and an analysis of its hidden ethical content.

The book illustrates the significant degree of alienation between the financial and the real side of economies, stemming from the long-standing struggle between ethics and economics. Furthermore, it provides a roadmap of modern value thinking, highlighting the crucial role of stakeholders and non-governmental organizations.

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TITLE Report on Climate-related Disclosures
AUTHOR EU Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance
PUBLISHED Jan 2019
LANGUAGES EN 
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Summary

The EU Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance released a report on climate-related disclosures as an input into the revision of the guidance framing non-financial corporate disclosure in the EU.

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TITLE The Global Risks Report 2019
AUTHOR World Economic Forum (WEF)
PUBLISHED Jan 2019
LANGUAGES EN 
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Summary

According to the 14th edition of World Economic Forum’s global risks report, environmental risks dominate the global risks landscape in terms of impact and likelihood for the third year in a row.

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TITLE Statement on disclosure of ESG matters by issuers
AUTHOR International Organization of Securities Commissions
PUBLISHED Jan 2019
LANGUAGES EN 
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Summary

The International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) published its first official statement setting out the importance of including ESG matters when disclosing information material to investors’ decisions.

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TITLE Values at Risk? Sustainability risks and goals in the Dutch financial sector
AUTHOR De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB)
PUBLISHED Jan 2019
LANGUAGES EN 
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Summary

In the present study, De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) looks into environmental and social risks to which financial institutions might be exposed, focusing on 25 large and medium-sized Dutch financial institutions.

The report explores the extent to which selected environmental and social challenges, not just related to climate change, pose risks to financial institutions. It also takes stock of the processes that financial institutions have set up to lend direction to their sustainability policies.

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TITLE Ethical and Sustainable Finance in Europe
AUTHOR Fondazione Finanza Etica
PUBLISHED Jan 2019
LANGUAGES IT  EN 
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Summary

This is the second report on ethical and sustainable finance in Europe, which compares the performance and solidity of European ethical and sustainable banks with those of European systemic banks.

Through updated figures, the report shows that ethical banks are financially sounder than systemic ones and haven’t suffered significant losses during the last financial crisis. Furthermore, ethical and sustainable banks provide citizens with a great opportunity: playing a leading role in building a more cohesive, inclusive and supportive Europe.

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TITLE European SRI Study 2018
AUTHOR Eurosif
PUBLISHED Nov 2018
LANGUAGES EN 
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Summary

The 8th edition of the Eurosif SRI study gives a detailed picture of the European SRI industry, covering institutional and retail investor from 12 European markets.

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TITLE Rethinking Impact to Finance the SDGs
AUTHOR UNEP Finance Initiative
PUBLISHED Nov 2018
LANGUAGES EN 
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Summary

The paper reviews the scope and nature of the financing gap for sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to propose new solutions for finance, business and a broader set of stakeholders. It builds on the Positive Impact Initiative’s earlier Manifesto (2015) and Principles for Positive Impact Finance (2017), clarifying the concepts of impact-based business models, impact-based economy and holistic impact analysis

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TITLE Get Real! Individuals Prefer More Sustainable Investments
AUTHOR Rob Bauer, Tobias Ruof, Paul Smeets
PUBLISHED Nov 2018
LANGUAGES EN 
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Summary

Do people put their pension savings on the table to promote sustainability? This paper answers the question in a large-scale field experiment (n = 3,256). The pension fund in the study gave its members a real vote for more or less sustainable investments. A comparison group made the same decision, but hypothetically. The paper finds that 66.7% of the participants favor to invest their pension savings in a sustainable manner.

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TITLE Sustainable investing: How to do it
AUTHOR Dirk Schoenmaker
PUBLISHED Nov 2018
LANGUAGES EN 
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Summary

Sustainable investment is gaining momentum in Europe, but its current proposed taxonomy might hinder innovation in the field. In this policy paper, Dirk Schoenmaker advocates for an active investment approach with concentrated portfolios, and sets out a six-point plan for sustainable investing.

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TITLE SWIPRA Corporate Governance Survey 2018
AUTHOR SWIRPA
PUBLISHED Nov 2018
LANGUAGES EN 
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Summary

The 6th SWIRPA Corporate Governance Survey, conducted in cooperation with researchers at the DBF (UZH), covers developments in governance in the Swiss market. A total of 154 participants filled out the survey, representing more than 77% of the SPI market cap and 26% of global equity AuM.

A presentation of the finding is available for download.

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TITLE Positive Impact Real Estate Investment Framework
AUTHOR UNEP FI Property Working Group
PUBLISHED Nov 2018
LANGUAGES EN 
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Summary

In order to help property investors develop and implement an impact-based approach in their investments, an action-oriented investor framework has been developed to help guide decisions at any stage of the property investment cycle.

This report focuses on four Investment Objectives which offer a way for institutions to frame decision-making for more immediate-term investment activities and longer-term aspirations that derive from Positive Impact’s holistic and impactbased approach.

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TITLE Public Sentiment and the Price of Corporate Sustainability
AUTHOR George Serafeim
PUBLISHED Oct 2018
LANGUAGES EN 
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Summary

Combining corporate sustainability performance scores based on environmental, social and governance (ESG) data with big data measuring public sentiment about a company’s sustainability performance, this paper finds that the valuation premium paid for companies with strong sustainability performance has increased over time and that the premium is increasing as a function of positive public sentiment momentum. The evidence suggests that public sentiment influences investor views about the value of corporate sustainability activities
and thereby both the price paid for corporate sustainability and the investment returns of portfolios that consider ESG data.

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SSRN-id3265502 (pdf 572.0 kB)
TITLE Green Digital Finance. Mapping Current Practice and Potential in Switzerland and Beyond
AUTHOR UNEP Inquiry
PUBLISHED Oct 2018
LANGUAGES EN 
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Summary

As a global financial centre with a growing strategic interest in sustainable finance, and a country recognized as a leader in digital technologies and innovation, Switzerland is seeking an improved understanding of how digital finance can accelerate the greening of financial flows. UN Environment, with support from the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), undertook a stocktaking to map emerging green digital finance practices in Switzerland and globally in 2018. The paper provides options for a number of national and international actions that could be taken forward by different stakeholder groups.

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TITLE Sustainable investing and bond returns
AUTHOR Barclays
PUBLISHED Oct 2018
LANGUAGES EN 
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Summary

Much research has been done on the relationship between environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) investing and performance in equity markets, but far less on its effect on the credit markets. This study into the behaviour of corporate bond portfolios showed that applying ESG factors resulted in a small but steady performance benefit and no evidence of a negative effect.

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TITLE Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance – Frequently Asked Questions
AUTHOR EU Commission
PUBLISHED Oct 2018
LANGUAGES EN 
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Summary

This document contains answers to frequently asked questions regarding the work of the Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance (TEG) set up by the EU Commission, and the legislative proposals that frame its work.

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TITLE The case for sustainable bond investing strengthens
AUTHOR Barclays
PUBLISHED Oct 2018
LANGUAGES EN 
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Summary

This study explores the relationship between ESG and credit portfolio performance in the US dollar and euro investment grade credit markets, as well as the USD high yield credit market. The study found that favouring bond issuers with high ESG ratings can generate positive returns across markets, geographies and sectors.

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TITLE Why and how investors can respond to income inequality
AUTHOR UN PRI & TIIP
PUBLISHED Oct 2018
LANGUAGES EN 
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Summary

Institutional investors are increasingly realising that income inequality—the gap in income and wealth between the very affluent and the rest of society—has become one of the most noteworthy socioeconomic issues of our time. The report identifies three themes material to long-term investors and also suggests paths that investors might take to adopt a more balanced view of how to create value, manage system-level risks and maximize rewards while still operating profitably and enjoying competitive returns.

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TITLE Mainstreaming Sustainable Investment
AUTHOR Michael J. Greis CFA
PUBLISHED Oct 2018
LANGUAGES EN 
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Summary

Like all investors, sustainable investors juggle various motivations: improving investment performance, achieving an economic or a societal outcome, and investing in ways consistent with their values/beliefs. The challenge for sustainable investment professionals is to understand their clients’ motivations and then shape their expectations and investment strategy accordingly. Given this range of motivations and the diversity of environmental, social, and governance systems, it should not be surprising that there are many ways to approach investing sustainably.

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TITLE Global Business in Local Culture. The Impact of Embedded Multinational Enterprises
AUTHOR Philipp Aerni
PUBLISHED Oct 2018
LANGUAGES EN 
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Summary

This book examines the impact of multinational enterprises (MNEs) on local economies, and presents selected case studies of MNEs operating in low income countries. By balancing external social and environmental costs against its corresponding benefits, the book demonstrates that MNEs can have a positive net-impact on local development if they build up social capital by embedding themselves in local economies and engaging responsibly with local stakeholders. By doing so MNEs contribute to inclusive growth, a central pillar of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

In this context, the book challenges popular narratives in civil society and academia that frame foreign direct investment (FDI) merely as a threat to human rights and sustainable development. Moreover, it offers practical guidance for globally operating businesses seeking to establish progressive Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies of their own.

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