If this email is not displaying correctly, please click here.
 
 
SSF Newsletter February 2016: Swiss institutional asset owners on the move
 
 

Late last year we witnessed a turning point for Sustainable Investments in Switzerland.

 

With the founding of the SVVK-ASIR (Schweizer Verein für verantwortungsbewusste Kapitalanlagen) in early December 2015, we see a strong move from Swiss institutional asset owners for increased consideration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in their investment decisions. We are positive that this will lead to increased public debate about the responsibility of investors.

 

The story in France is also developing with the methodology for a law on ESG/low carbon investment reporting having been published. The implementation starts this year and is not just relevant for French investors, but also for foreign asset managers with French clients.

 

The prominent presence of ESG topics in the WEF agenda in January 2016 sends clear signals that the mainstream community has recognised the necessity of adapting the global financial system. China put green finance on the agenda of the G20 in the current year: the fact that Switzerland participates in the finance track offers opportunities for our country.

 

Kind regards

 

Sabine Döbeli

CEO Swiss Sustainable Finance

 
 
 
Content
 

SSF activities

Regulatory and Market News

SSF and sustainable finance in the media

New members joining SSF

Save these dates

New studies & reports

Varia from our network

Closing thoughts

 
 
 
SSF activities
 

AZEK-Campus, 1/2 February 2016, Geneva/Zürich

 

SSF in cooperation with the Swiss Association of Financial Analysts and Portfolio Managers (SFAA) organized two one day workshops on longterm investing. The program was designed to answer the questions:

  • Does the current short-term mentality have negative impacts on our economy and the financial industry?
  • What advantages are connected with a long-term and sustainable view?

The AZEK-Campus managed to attract over 150 professionals looking to gain insights into this topic. The seminar concentrated on practical aspects of integrating sustainability factors into both the management of companies and investments and will present promising approaches to counter negative effects of short-termism and achieve sustainable returns.

 

The SSF Team was present in both Geneva (Jean Laville, Deputy CEO) and Zurich (Sabine Döbeli, CEO) as part of the lecturer line up.

 

See full program

Read more

 
 
 

Background interview in Die Volkswirtschaft / La Vie économique

 

As part of a 13 page special on sustainable finance in Die Volkswirtschaft / La Vie économique, a platform for economic politics published by SECO (State Secretariat for Economic Affairs), a 4 page background interview was held with Sabine Döbeli on the topic „Nachhaltige Finanzdienstleistungen als Chance für die Schweiz / La finance durable, une chance pour la Suisse“. Other contributions came from the SSF Network (Antoinette Hunziker-Ebneter, CEO and Founding Partner Forma Futura Invest, Dr. Philipp Krüger, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Geneva Finance Research Institute). The broad coverage of sustainable finance in this important publication has given the topic considerable exposure among the federal administration and politicians contributing to a better awareness of opportunities for Switzerland.

 

Article in German / Article in French

 

SSF was also part of many other events and discussions. Read more

 

Back to top

 
 
 
 
 
Regulatory and Market News
 

7 Large Swiss asset owners founded association for corporate ESG engagement

 

PUBLICA (federal employees’ pension fund), compenswiss (buffer fund of AHV/IV/EO), Pensionskasse Post, Pensionskasse SBB, comPlan (pension fund of Swisscom), Suva and BVK (pension fund of the Canton of Zurich) have taken an important step forward regarding responsible investments in the Swiss Pension Fund market. On 3 December 2015 the organisation SVVK-ASIR (Schweizer Verein für verantwortungsbewusste Kapitalanlagen – Association Suisse pour des investissements responsables) was founded with a goal to implement common ESG criteria, as well as, engage with investee companies. Representing over CHF 150 bn in assets, the founding members have already disclosed plans to maintain a publically available exclusion list in addition to outlining ESG criteria for investee companies.

 

Switzerland participating in G20 Finance Track

 

Switzerland was invited by the Chinese authorities, who assumed the G20 presidency on 1 December 2015, to take part in this year’s G20 meetings of finance ministers and central bank governors. Switzerland will also participate actively in the corresponding working groups and preparatory meetings. One focus lies on Green Finance with a workgroup on this topic being co-chaired by the People's Bank of China and the Bank of England, with UNEP acting as secretariat. We see it as an opportunity for Switzerland to promote its green finance know-how in this process.

 

Positive votes to include environmental risks in pan European pension fund directive

 

The Directive “Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORP)” is currently being evaluated. This regulatory framework will effect a potential of 125’000 “second-pillar” schemes in the EU, representing assets of EU 2.5 trn. The latest draft text was adopted 47 votes to 3 by the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee of the European Parliament and contains text mandating the consideration of environmental risks in investment processes. We will follow this story as it unfolds with a plenary sitting scheduled for 12 April 2016 when Parliament, the executive Commission and the member state-level Council debate the details of the text.

 

 

Methodology published for French law on ESG/low carbon investment reporting and new government-backed SRI Label

 
 

On 29 December 2015 four French Ministries signed the decree, specifying the article 172 of the law on “energy and ecology transition” (ratified in August 2015), making reporting on ESG integration in investments mandatory for all professional asset owners, asset managers and insurers in France. 

 

These players will need to report on the integration of ESG criteria in their investment decisions as of January 1st 2016. The amended article 173 was accompanied by another publication detailing the methodology on the general ESG reporting process. The main aim is to promote transparency enabling all interested parties to gain clarity on the ESG aspects considered for investment portfolios. The methodology defines the content, frequency and means of reporting on ESG factors used in investment or risk management processes.

 

In line with the recent development of the mandatory ESG reporting requirements, France has introduced several green/SRI labels over the last year. On 15 January 2016 the French government introduced the first SRI quality label for investment funds and its underlying methodology. Third parties SRI label certifiers have to apply for accreditation at the Cofrac, France’s state-funded, accreditation agency. Those will then be enabled to label funds and investment portfolios. Further information see French state’s website.

 

European Commission report calls for mandatory disclosure of responsible investment policy

 

The European Commission Directorate General Environment in cooperation with Ernst & Young prepared a report for the European Commission which called for mandatory disclosure of sustainable investment policies for institutional investors. It also suggests that third party external verification could be introduced to the Principles of Responsible Investment. This report has launched the public consultation on how institutional investors factor long-termism and ESG information into investment decisions. If you are interested in contributing your views, opinions or experiences you can do this until the 25th March 2016, online.

 

WEF calls for ESG factors to be mainstreamed into core financial processes

 

The Global Risks Perception Survey (WEF) indicated that the most impactful risk is the potential failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation. It argues that the sheer number of ESG criteria is a barrier to the effective analysis of material climate risks affecting companies. The WEF argues that the financial industry needs to find ways to factor climate risks into the core financial processes and indicators, permitting better forward-looking data and metrics.

 

Back to top

 
 
 
 
 
SSF and sustainable finance in the media
 

1 February 2016, RTS Info: La place financière suisse veut se profiler dans la finance durable (with SSF input)

27 January 2016, Tagesanzeiger: SNB investiert in 14 Atomwaffen-Firmen

22 January 2016, NZZSpekulationsstopp-Initiative: Politisierung der Altersvorsorge-Investitionen (with SSF input)

16 December 2015, Schweizer Bank: Alles oder nichts

16 December 2015, Schweizer Bank: Fussabdruck hinterlässt Spuren

15 December 2015, NZZ: Nachhaltige Fonds spriessen aus dem Boden       

10 December 2015,  SRF - Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen, Echo der Zeit: Investoren lassen Kohle links liegen (with SSF input)

8 December 2015, Fondstrends: Klimawandel mit privater Initiative bewältigen   

7 December 2015, Finanz und Wirtschaft: Swiss Pension funds set up association for sustainability and engagement

2 December 2015, SRF - Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen, SRF Börse: CO2-lastige Investitionen unter Druck  (interview with SSF CEO)


 

Visit our website for regularly updated articles on SSF and sustainable finance

 

Back to top

 
 
 
New members joining SSF
 

SFF has gained three new members: With BSD Consulting, EIC Partners and Partners for Sustainability, three innovative companies involved in sustainable finance have joined our organisation. We are now a network of 86 members and network partners and are looking forward to strong collaborations in 2016.

 
 

New members that have joined SSF recently:

  • BSD Consulting
  • EIC Partners
  • Partners for Sustainability
 

A full list of our members can be found on the SSF Website.

 

Back to top

 
 
 
 
 
Save these dates
 

Lugano, 7 March 2016

2015 Paris Climate Conference: what are the consequences?

During this event organised by BSI Gamma Foundation, supported by Swiss Sustainable Finance, a panel of experts will examine the impact of the Paris Agreement resolutions from an economic, industrial and financial point of view.

Registration information can soon be found on our website

 

Zürich, 9 March 2016

How new soft and hard law requirements challenge the financial sector

In this SSF event we will shed light on the rapidly evolving regulatory environment pertaining to corporate responsibility and sustainability. What are the risks and opportunities that financial institutions face due to new soft and hard law initiatives? How can banks, insurers, and asset managers make sure they are prepared for the changes ahead? Sign up for the event on the SSF website.

 

Geneva, 22 March 2016

3rd Geneva Summit on Sustainable Finance

Following the successes of the two previous editions, the University of Geneva together with the Latsis Foundation, Sustainable Finance Geneva, and UNEP FI organize the 3rd Geneva Summit on Sustainable Finance. The conference will take place at the International Conference Centre Geneva (CICG) in Switzerland. The theme for this year’s event is “The Role of Finance in Promoting Sustainable Development

 

Back to top


 

 
 
 
 
New reports & studies
 

ESG and financial performance: aggregated evidence from more than 2000 empirical studies

Gunnar Friede, Timo Busch & Alexander Bassen, Journal of Sustainable Finance & Investment, December 2015

This study extracts primary and secondary data from about 2200 individual studies focussing on the relation between ESG integration and financial performance. The results show that the business case for ESG investing is empirically very well founded. Roughly 90% of studies find a nonnegative ESG–Corporate Financial Performance (CFP) relation, with the large majority actually showing positive results. The study concludes that the ESG integration is on average not detrimental to the financial performance, generally as good as “traditional” investment opportunities, often out-performing it.

 

Conservation finance from niche to mainstream: the building of an institutional asset class

Credit Suisse, January 2016

This report builds on the previous CS study "Conservation Finance - Moving beyond donor funding toward an investor-driven approach". Since then the field has developed rapidly. The objective of this report is to identify financial product structures that have the potential to establish conservation finance in mainstream investment markets, reaching an estimated medium-term potential of USD 200-400bn.

 

More walls, more warming, less water: a world at risk in 2016

WEF, January 2016          

For this report about 750 experts researched 29 separate global risks. The one with the greatest potential impact was found to be failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation. It's the first time since the report was published in 2006, that an environmental risk has topped the ranking. The report highlights the importance of the interconnections among the risks, suggesting that a small number of key risks wield great influence. An example is climate change exacerbating water crises, resulting in conflicts and forced migration. The report concludes that knowledge about risks (likelihood and potential impact) and their interconnections is fundamental for leaders, helping them to prioritize areas for action.

 

Climate change: a risk to the global middle class

UBS, January 2016          

This UBS report looked at middle-class consumption in 215 cities around the world and compared it to the level of climate-change risk in those cities. The report highlights the economic risks (i.e. covering uninsured losses, shifts in consumption patterns) resulting from the interconnection between socio-economic structures and high exposure to climate change of cities.

 

COP 21: green deal or greenwash?

ESG Magazine, Responsible Investor, December 2015

This issue is dedicated to the theme of fossil fuels, 'unburnable carbon' and 'stranded assets'. Read about how the financial industry is reacting to the risks of climate change and fossil fuel linked investments.

 

Back to top

 
 
 
Varia from our network
 

Andreas Spiegel, Head Group Sustainability at Swiss Re has been named as one of the members of the Financial Stability Board’s (FSB) Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). The Task Force has a mission to develop voluntary, consistent climate-related financial risk disclosures for use by companies in providing information to investors, lenders, insurers, and other stakeholders. It was launched by the FSB and will be led under the chairmanship of Michael R. Bloomberg.

 

To highlight this and other news, SSF has created a section with members’ news on its website. Check our member’s press releases for more information on sustainable finance in Switzerland.

 

Back to top

 
 
 
Closing thoughts
 

As you can see from the numerous regulatory changes, articles and reports, sustainable finance has climbed high up on the agenda of the public and private finance sector making 2016 an interesting year for all the different players in this industry. SSF will keep you up-to-date on and involved in the relevant developments. Take the chance to learn more about relevant regulatory changes at the SSF-event of 9 March in Zurich. We hope to see many of you for a lively debate.

 

Best regards

 

The SSF team

 

 

 

View past SSF newsletters

 
 
© Swiss Sustainable Finance
If you do not wish to receive this newsletter anymore, you can cancel your subscription here Sign off.