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newsletter 03/2017

Our topics:

1. Customers

- Kreissparkasse Köln builds on oekom research analyses for sustainable mutual fund

- oekom research supports SV SparkassenVersicherung in implementing its investment strategy in accordance with UN Global Compact principles

2. oekom Services

- oekom Corporate Responsibility Review 2017

- oekom portfolio analysis for foundations

3. Global Challenges Index

- Rebalancing of the Global Challenges Index: Billerud Korsnas, Hannover Rück, Lenzing and Rockwool International accepted into the GCX

4. Market

- China issues green bond guidelines

- Global Sustainable Investment Alliance: Global Sustainable Investment Review 2016

- Less is more: circular economy solutions to water shortages

5. Studies/Publications

- Natixis Global Asset Management: International Survey of Institutional Investors

6. Events

- International conference on planetary boundaries

- 17th annual conference of the German Council for Sustainable Development

- Responsible Business Summit Europe 2017

1. Customers

Kreissparkasse Köln builds on oekom research analyses for sustainable mutual fund

Kreissparkasse Köln extended its asset management portfolio with a sustainable European mutual fund in February 2017. The fund invests in shares that fulfil highest social and environmental standards through a combination of a best-in-class approach and stringent exclusion criteria. In selecting the securities, Kreissparkasse Köln draws on analyses from oekom research. In this way, it is positioned to choose only those companies which incorporate above-average levels of sustainability and social responsibility into their business practices. Conversely, companies which oekom research identifies as embroiled in controversial business practices – such as violations of labour or human rights, disregard of environmental laws, business malpractice or corruption – or which operate in certain, critical business fields are excluded from investment.

“With oekom research, we have a very experienced partner to help us grow our sustainable-investment portfolio,” says Kreissparkasse Köln’s Board Member responsible for Retail Banking, Christian Bonnen. “Given the high quality of oekom research’s analyses and its excellent reputation, we are expecting true value added for our customers.”

Contact: Christoph Hellmann, Press Spokesperson at Kreissparkasse Köln, Tel. +49 (0)221/227-2703, Email: presse@ksk-koeln.de

oekom research supports SV SparkassenVersicherung in implementing its investment strategy in accordance with UN Global Compact principles

SV SparkassenVersicherung, one of Germany’s pre-eminent insurance groups, has charged oekom research with supporting it in its sustainable-investment activities.

In the scope of its sustainability activities, SV has the self-set goal of ramping up its strategy to avoid controversial investments. Against this background, investments in shares and bonds of companies with very severe breaches of the principles of the UN Global Compact will be principally regarded as non-sustainable in the future. oekom research will be providing the insurer with its ESG-screening and portfolio-analysis services for managing ESG risks.

“We used oekom research’s detailed screening services for a portfolio analysis and have now decided to firmly entrench the criteria of the UN Global Compact strategically into our investment policy over the long term, too,” says Sven Simon, director central department Capital Risk Management. “We are looking forward to our continued good working relationship with oekom research AG,” he concluded.

Contact: SV SparkassenVersicherung, RK3 (Unternehmenskommunikation), Email:   sylvia.knittel@sparkassenversicherung.de; silke.spatz@sparkassenversicherung.de

2. oekom Services

oekom Corporate Responsibility Review 2017

oekom research presents the Corporate Responsibility Review 2017. For the first time ever, the independent sustainability research agency has identified a trend that is increasing more than just marginally in its latest annual report on sustainable business governance around the globe.

One of the possible reasons for this trend, which is most noticeable in the midfield of the rated businesses, can be seen in the pressure to change and the impulses for increased sustainability which are impacting companies from many angles. These include international initiatives such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), national regulations, increasing demands of sustainable capital markets and a general rise in sustainability awareness. Businesses also need to respond increasingly to transformation processes in the economy, e.g. decarbonization in the energy sector and e-mobility in the automobiles industry. The study shows clearly that not all industries are equally well prepared to face these opportunities and challenges. Consequently, there is still considerable room for improvement, with industry having a long way to go before it can speak of holistic sustainability.

The report can be downloaded at http://oekom-research.com/homepage/english/oekom_cr_review_E_2017.pdf

oekom portfolio analysis for foundations

Many foundations in Germany have already realised that sustainable investment can have a doubly positive effect on attaining the respective foundation’s goals. If environmental and social criteria are taken into account when investing the foundation’s assets, concrete goals of the foundation – such as combating climate change or advocating for human / labour rights – can be supported. Simultaneously, the empirical findings of many studies, as well as our longstanding experience, confirm that sustainable investment strategies can achieve comparable, if not better, yields than conventional investments.

To help foundations define and implement a sustainable investment strategy, oekom research has, as Premium Partner of Germany’s Association of Foundations (Bundesverband Deutscher Stiftungen (BVDS)), developed a special, starter-level product – the oekom ESG PortfolioAnalyse – based on its proven oekom Portfolio Check. It serves as the starting point for developing an individualized sustainable investment strategy tailored to their needs and can also serve as an independent reporting tool for foundations.

For more further information, please visit: http://oekom-research.com/index.php?content=portfolio_analyse_fuer_stiftungen

Contact: Karin Siemann, Senior Manager Client Relations, Email: karin.siemann@oekom-research.com

3. Global Challenges Index

Rebalancing of the Global Challenges Index: Billerud Korsnas, Hannover Rück, Lenzing and Rockwool International accepted into the GCX

In the course of rebalancing the Global Challenges Index (GCX), four new companies – BillerudKorsnas, Hannover Rück, Lenzing and Rockwool International – were accepted into the sustainable stock index on 17 March 2017. Their sustainable business practices and the design of their products and services make an active contribution to long-term sustainability, winning over the index’s initiators – the Hanover Stock Exchange and sustainability rating agency, oekom research – as well as the high-profile members of the GCX advisory board.

The products made by Swedish packaging manufacturer BillerudKorsnas are based on wood, a regenerative raw material. The company only purchases wood / wood fibres from sources which have recognised sustainability credentials, such as FSC or PEFC, or which are verified for compliance with the traceability criteria of these standards. The internationally active reinsurer, Hannover Rück, scores well with its insurance portfolio for low-income groups of the population, the integration of environmental and social formal conditions into its equity investments, and research and product development in the areas of climate change, resource scarcity and demographic change. Austrian textiles manufacturer, Lenzing, convinces through its production of predominantly wood-based cellulose fibres which have a better net impact on the environment than conventional cotton or chemical fibres. And last but not least, Danish insulant maker, Rockwool International, makes an important contribution to the energy efficiency of buildings with its main insulation product, rock wool. The energy optimisation of buildings is regarded as one of the most significant and cost-efficient levers for combating climate change. All four of these companies also fulfil the strict sustainability requirements needed to qualify for oekom Prime status; this status takes companies’ treatment of their staff and suppliers, their responsible attitude towards society and customers, good corporate governance, as well as environmental-protection aspects and environmental efficiency into account.

“The contribution that BillerudKorsnas’s, Hannover Rück’s, Lenzing’s and Rockwool International’s products make towards long-term sustainability, and consequently towards achieving global sustainability goals such as the UN SDGs, sends an important signal. Besides their role in overcoming the global challenges which form the basis of the GCX, each of the companies also fulfils the index’s very stringent requirements for sustainable corporate governance and the defined exclusion criteria,” says Hanover Stock Exchange and Hamburg Stock Exchange CEO, and BÖAG Börsen AG board member, Hendrik Jannsen, about the companies’ admission to the index.

The background to the change is the regular rebalancing of the GCX. The index composition is reviewed semi-annually. Shares of companies which no longer satisfy the strict selection criteria are replaced in the index by new ones. Companies dropped from the index this time round were: BT Group due to controversial accounting practices; East Japan Railway due to the loss of Prime status in the oekom Corporate Rating; and RELX following a settlement connected with purported discriminatory wage practices at two US sites. Also, Spanish wind-power company, Gamesa, can no longer be retained in the index due to its delisting following its merger with Siemens’ wind power division.

For further information on the GCX, please visit: www.gc-index.com

4. Market

China issues green bond guidelines

The Chinese securities regulator has issued guidelines to promote the country’s flourishing green bond market. According to the Chinese Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), this should simplify procedures, while simultaneously facilitating verification of the respective intended purpose. This should encourage traders, investment-fund companies and banks to invest in the bonds as well.

The announcement of the green bond guidelines is another step towards developing and promoting the Chinese green bond market. The People’s Bank of China, which is responsible for regulating issuers on the financial markets, already issued national green bond guidelines at the end of 2015. The CSRC now also regulates bonds issued by listed companies.

For further information, please visit: http://www.asiaasset.com/aam/2017-03/0317_GC2.aspx

Global Sustainable Investment Alliance: Global Sustainable Investment Review 2016

The Global Sustainable Investment Alliance (GSIA) has published its latest market report on the global status of sustainable investment. In doing so, it consolidated the findings in the market reports of the sustainable investment forums of Europe, the Unites States, Canada, Australia, New Zeeland, as well as Japan and Asia. According to the report, a total of USD 22.89 trillion of assets is invested globally according to sustainable principles; this corresponds to a 25 per cent rise over 2014.

In almost all the named markets, sustainable investment grew both in absolute and relative terms compared with 2014. Europe alone accounts for 53 per cent of the world’s sustainably invested assets, while 38 per cent are ascribed to the USA. The strategies used most commonly worldwide – sometimes in combination – are exclusions (USD 15.02 trillion) followed by ESG integration (USD 10.37 trillion) and engagement (USD 8.37 trillion)

To download the market report, please visit: http://www.gsi-alliance.org/members-resources/trends-report-2016/

Less is more: circular economy solutions to water shortages

oekom SBR SiegelThe circular economy could potentially save up to 400 billion cubic metres of water a year. This corresponds to around 11 per cent of global water needs. To achieve these savings, innovations would be needed to improve products and services so that their manufacturing and usage cause the least-possible waste. The conventional approach, referred to as “take, make and waste” (corresponding to the life-cycle phases of production, usage and disposal) would then be replaced by the “reduce, re-use and retention” approach.

The study “Less is more: circular economy solutions to water shortages” expects the intensified recycling of water over several production and deployment cycles to make a significant contribution towards combating water shortages. It was conducted by research institute Deltares on behalf of ING Bank.

For further information, please download: https://www.deltares.nl/app/uploads/2017/03/ING-Circular-Economy-Solutions-to-Water-Shortages-March-2017.pdf

5. Studies/Publications

Natixis Global Asset Management: International Survey of Institutional Investors

Natixis polled 500 managers of statutory and company pension programmes, foundations, insurance companies and state investment funds in North and South America, the UK, continental Europe, Asia and the Middle East with a total of USD 15.5 trillion of assets under management. The survey’s results indicate how institutional investors use the risk factor to their own advantage. ESG factors also play a role in this connection. They serve as a guidepost for identifying companies and investment trends that could boost their portfolios’ long-term growth potential. Almost 60 per cent of the institutional investors see consideration of ESG factors as a possibility to generate alpha. An equal number of institutions also regard this approach as an option to mitigate general risk factors such as litigation, environmental damage and social conflicts. At the same time, 62  per cent of the respondents predict that all managers will be considering ESG factors as a matter of course within the next five years.

For further information, please download: https://www.natixis.com/natixis/upload/docs/application/pdf/2017-03/natixis_pr_14032017.pdf

6. Events

International conference on planetary boundaries

On 24 – 25 April 2017, protagonists from the scientific, political, social and business communities will meet in Berlin to discuss the implications of the concept of planetary boundaries for society, the economy and politics.

The concept of planetary boundaries was conceived in 2009 by Johan Rockström and Will Steffen and further developed in 2015. It builds on the premise that economic activity must occur in a “safe operating space” and that planetary boundaries must be appreciated to end poverty, enable social and economic development and stability, and promote justice and peace.

The international conference is organised by adelphi together with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Stockholm Environment Institute on behalf of BMUB, UBA and DBU. oekom research will be represented by Manager Client Relations, Lorenz Stör.

For further information, please visit https://pb-conference2017.de/

17th annual conference of the German Council for Sustainable Development

The meanwhile 17th annual conference of the German Council for Sustainable Development will be held on 29 May 2017 under the motto “wissen, wählen, wünschen” [“know... choose... wish...”]. As in previous years, the latest sustainable-development issues will be the topic of discussion: How do we put sustainable development into practice? What is important, and what can and must every individual / the organisation / “politics” etc. change? Besides many celebrities from the scientific and social communities, Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel, Federal Minister of the Environment Dr. Barbara Hendriks and Federal Minister for Development Gerd Müller are also expected.

oekom research CEO, Robert Haßler, is also among the invited speakers, and will be discussing how sustainability ratings can produce change in the “Impulses & Suggestions” part of the programme.

For further details of the programme agenda and individual topics, please download: http://www.nachhaltigkeitsrat.de/fileadmin/user_upload/dokumente/termine/2017/29-05_jahreskonferenz/RNE_Programm_Jahreskonferenz_2017.pdf

Responsible Business Summit Europe 2017

The main topic of this year’s conference in London on 07 – 08 June is the expected transformation of CSR to an era of “social purpose”. Nowadays, the topic of corporate responsibility is more important than ever before. However, this cementing of responsible corporate governance is being mirrored by an equally vigorous proliferation of greed and expectation. At a number of event levels and using various formats, the conference aims to elucidate the change, recognise opportunities and risks, and ultimately achieve a positive result.

For further information, please visit: http://events.ethicalcorp.com/rbs/conference-agenda.php 

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