As a high profile media organisation and publisher of The Guardian and Observer newspapers and websites, we have been a high profile advocate of responsible investment. We have used this global platform to promote support for the fossil fuel divestment movement and to influence behaviour of other asset owners, investment managers and companies. We have published numerous articles promoting responsible investment.
Our own decision to divest from fossil fuels is in keeping with the aim to promote responsible investment and also reflects our broader values. At the time of making the decision to divest from fossil fuels, our fund was the largest known fund to publically state its intention to divest, and we have continued to use our media platform to promote climate change awareness in responsible investment and the importance of actions to curb fossil fuel use. New examples during the reporting period:
During the period, a very notable example of promotion of responsible investment was our lead role in the “Paradise Papers” exposé, exposing certain practices and calling for greater transparency and fairness in global finance and offshore investment.
We also led many campaigns around business ethics in relation to numerous social and environmental and governance issues.
More broadly, The Guardian and Observer employ a number of highly-experienced journalists dedicated to reporting on the environment, sustainability and good business in the UK and internationally. Comment is Free - a comment and political opinion site within the guardian.com - also regularly commissions authored pieces from leading commentators, academics, politicians, opinion formers and influential stakeholders, to further discuss and debate issues germane to the environment, sustainability and good business. In addition, the Guardian Professional Networks - a collection of community sites that bring professionals together to share ideas - include the global development network and the sustainable business network, covering the social and environmental impacts of business and providing a space for NGOs, aid workers and development professionals to share knowledge and expertise.
As a large asset owner aiming to take a proactive stance on sustainable investing we also aim to change the mind-set and behaviour of investment managers and promote a responsible investment agenda more generally.
Some examples of this during the reporting period are given below:
- We were an early founding investor in a new clean energy fund.
- We funded a new customized global passive equity product with zero exposure to fossil fuel producers, very reduced carbon emissions and increased exposure to companies with green revenues.
- Our engagement let to the creation of two new fossil fuel free hedge fund share classes.
- We encouraged and requested transparency on engagement, voting and responsible investment activities from our managers. This activity led to workplans to drive improvement.
- We further re-allocated active equity positions towards managers meaningfully integrating ESG and pursuing responsible investment activities, making clear these were key factors in the selection and diligence process, and encouraging maximum transparency from the chosen manager on their approach to ESG.
- Our feedback during the reporting period drove revisions to the sustainable investment policy for a new climate change aligned equity fund launch, formalizing fossil fuel exclusion. After the period, we committed to invest in this new product, and are acting as the initial seed investor for the vehicle designed for European investors.