Bond issuers—including sovereigns, who represent 50 percent of the fixed income asset class—are faced with increasing scrutiny on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues from investors. Forums organized by the World Bank Treasury to promote dialogue between institutional investors and sovereign bond issuers have highlighted the challenges sovereign issuers face in engaging with investors on ESG topics and in communicating ESG-related information that investors consider financially material to their portfolios. This document provides examples, best practices, and action plans that can help debt managers enhance their capacity to engage with investors incorporating ESG information in investment decisions.
The COVID-19 global health and economic crisis has highlighted the need for leadership and capital to be urgently targeted towards the vulnerabilities in the global economy. The issues of sustainability have never been more important and it’s a critical time for investors to be collaborating for better corporate behaviours and economic outcomes.
According to the IMF, more than $20 trillion is needed over the next 20 years to be invested in climate change and other sustainable development goals. But countries can not achieve this on their own. Governments need to make it easier for business to finance and invest in sustainable development projects, the private sector needs to mobilise for long-term investment, and new solutions for financing the SDGs must be created.
This conference was an urgent call to action for all investors to influence investee companies to change their focus and put people before profits to create a more sustainable economy, and to wake up to the crucial role they play in ensuring a sustainable recovery.
Through case studies of investors and corporate collaboration, investors heard how their peers have been engaging for change on issues relating to the environment, labour practices and better long-term outcomes. The conference addressed the social and economic consequences of the coronavirus and outlined the role that investors can play in the path to a sustainable economy.