Empowering responsible investing for long-term prosperity

Despite the notable progress made in corporate sustainability reporting, there is still much room for improvement.

Last September, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund announced its pledge to divest its fossil fuel holdings as part of a larger divestment movement that aims to deprive the industry of up to $50 billion (U.S.). Later that month, the Montreal Carbon Pledge was launched where investors commit to measure and publicly disclose the carbon footprint of their investment portfolios on an annual basis. To date, investors representing assets under management of $1.2 trillion have committed to the pledge.

Add to the above fact that there is currently about $45 trillion of assets under management by 1,314 United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI) signatories – up from only $4 trillion back in 2006. UNPRI signatories commit to integrate six principals covering environmental, social and governance issues into their investment decision making and ownership practices.

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Create a sustainable portfolio

By Doug Morrow
A new web tool allows users to screen companies based on resource productivity to create a more sustainable portfolio.

One of the most significant barriers to the mainstreaming of sustainable investment is the belief that sustainability underperforms. Choosing companies through an environmental, social and governance (ESG) lens, the belief goes, is a doomed practice, destined to put a drag on portfolio returns.

It is true that many asset managers have taken steps to integrate ESG data into the way they manage their portfolios, but the vast majority of the world’s $60 trillion in assets under management is not subject to this type of analysis.   

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Are the best getting better?

By Doug Morrow
While year-over-year performance on some sustainability indicators is flat, others show notable improvement.

The Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada is the most recognized corporate sustainability ranking in the country. The organizations named to the Best 50 each year by Corporate Knights represent the very best in corporate sustainability performance. They are leaders within their respective industries on a diverse set of sustainability metrics, and epitomize the concept of doing more with less.

Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), the clothing and sporting equipment retailer, deserves plaudits for achieving the top overall score in this year’s Best 50. Remarkably, MEC came in with top quartile performance on six metrics, including carbon productivity, waste productivity and CEO-average employee pay.

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Global 100 turns 10

U.S. and Canadian companies increase their share of the world's most sustainable corporations.

Human beings have a predilection for measurement, and throughout our history we have shown great aptitude for pushing out the boundaries of what can be measured. In fields as varied as human genetics, sports research and economics, new measurement tools have greatly improved our understanding of the world, and allowed us to break apart and analyze topics that were once unassailably knotted.

And so it is with corporate sustainability, a topic that Corporate Knights has been thinking about and measuring since 2005, when the first iteration of the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations ranking was released.

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Sustainability disclosure

By Doug Morrow
Corporate Knights investigates the state of sustainability disclosure in the world’s stock exchanges.

In April, Aviva Investors commissioned Corporate Knights Capital, the investment research and financial products arm of Corporate Knights Inc., to investigate the state of sustainability disclosure on the world’s stock exchanges. The results of this engagement, a report titled “Trends in Sustainability Disclosure: Benchmarking the World’s Composite Stock Exchanges,” were officially revealed on June 18 at the Sustainable Stock Exchanges side event to the United Nations Rio+20 conference. Doug Morrow, vice-president of research at CK Capital, shares some highlights from this analysis.

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