Investors from some of the biggest asset owners and fund managers across Europe are to gather in Paris to debate the implications of Brexit and the development of credible ESG (environmental, social and governance) policies.
The Global Invest Forum (GIF) takes place on the 10 and 11 of October and comes as Brexit negotiations flounder toward a 31 October deadline and amid mounting interest in the role of investors in tackling the climate crisis.
The UN Climate Change Summit this week saw the launch of a new project—the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance—in which asset owners pledged to push their investee companies for decarbonisation.
A statement from the GIF this week said investors are only recently coming to terms with the full implications of Brexit “which are considerable for the continents’ finance professionals”. But it added that there were upsides.
“Fortunately, not all of these repercussion are negative. While the distancing of the City will be a shock for everybody, it could also be an opportunity for the rest of the European Union.”
One of the key sessions at the conference will see Lord Peter Ricketts, a former British ambassador to France, discuss what to expect from Brexit. The conference’s first session will also see see Vittorio Grilli, former Italian finance minister, along with Leena Mörttinen of Finland’s finance ministry, discuss the impact of the recent European elections on investment and its stakeholders.
Integration of ESG
Meanwhile, ESG is a core focus of the conference. GIF said European investors were leading the integration of ESG principles into their investment policies.
“Surely, Europe is not alone in seeking this objective at this moment of universal awareness of climate danger,” GIF said, “but on no other continent have thoughts on this issue advanced so far, and on no other continent is the opportunity to build a new common business model being taken more seriously than in Europe.”
GIF’s discussion of ESG issues will involve some of the most respected figures in the investment industry. They will include Martin Spolc, head of the sustainable finance unit in the financial services directorate of the European Commission; Will Martindale, director of policy and research at Principles for Responsible Investment; and Florence Saliba, vice-president of finance and treasury at Danone.
This week, asset owners in the Net-Zero Alliance made a commitment at the United Nations to decarbonise their portfolios by 2050. That means immediate engagement with investee boards to talk about reforming business models to remove greenhouse gases.
Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, said: “There are no short-cuts to decisive climate action.
“We need to take a long-term view. I applaud the leadership of the investors in this Alliance. Their commitment sends a strong signal that financial markets and investors are listening to science and moving us to a path of resilience and sustainability.”
Attendees at the GIF will include European and international asset managers, institutional investors, and banking and investment service providers.
The Global Invest Forum programme is available to view here.