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PRI steps up pressure with ‘continuous improvement’ rules

The PRI (Principles for Responsible Investment), which oversees an investment Code adopted by more than 1,750 signatories from more than 50 countries with over US$70 trillion in AUM, is tightening its conditions for acceptance and ongoing membership.

The six Principles for Responsible Investment are a voluntary and aspirational set of goals that offer a menu of possible actions for incorporating ESG issues into investment practice.

Sensitive to calls of ‘greenwashing’ kitemarks, where wealthy signatories can simply pay a fee and receive endorsement for their ‘green’ credentials, the PRI is warning that it will raise minimum requirements and seek continuous improvement in signatories’ ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) standards. In future, failure to meet requirements and/or demonstrate progress will result in de-selection of members.

Last year, the PRI conducted a public consultation to collect detailed feedback on its proposals for minimum requirements and leadership criteria for signatories. The organisation received input from over 300 signatories. The full results of the consultation can be found here.

From 2018, the PRI will demand that existing and future signatories identify and demonstrate:

  • a Responsible Investment policy that covers more than 50% of AUM

  • Internal and/or external staff responsible for implementing RI policy

  • Evidence of senior-level commitment, and accountability mechanisms for RI implementation

Failure to meet these requirements by 2020, including extensive engagement with the PRI, will result, as a last resort, in private notification of delisting. The PRI does not plan to produce a "league table" or similar public rating of signatories as part of this output.

It is clear the PRI does not want to lose signatories, but it rightly understands that it needs to protect its long-term credibility and thus its business model. In September it plans to launch a ‘leadership resource’ to showcase best practice by signatories. Case studies will be drawn from a pool of organisations identified from the annual PRI reporting process.

Fortuna AMC is a Signatory to the PRI, and offers expert guidance on ESG issues to our clients.

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