Welcome to Issue #8 of the Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings (GISR) INSIGHT.

GISR Insight April 2014

Welcome to Issue #8 of the Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings (GISR) INSIGHT. In June, GISR held its first international events in London, including a briefing and Steering Committee and Technical Review Committee meetings. At the committee meetings, discussions focused on the new program plan, which creates a cohesive framework to guide GISR’s activities in the coming years. In addition, GISR organized a panel discussion hosted by Chatham House, titled “Sustainability & Ratings: Charting the Future”. The unifying theme for the London events was deepening engagement with ESG research and ratings organizations to complement collaborative relationships with companies, investors and kindred sustainability initiatives.

New Committee Members

We warmly welcome these new members to GISR’s core committees:

Technical Review Committee
Elina Rolfe was appointed as Technical Manager for Scoring in July 2013 to oversee CDP’s independent rating system that benchmarks corporate disclosure and performance on environmental stewardship. CDP is a global not-for-profit organization providing the only voluntary global system for companies and cities to measure, disclose, manage and share vital environmental information. Elina is responsible for leading on the development of CDP’s scoring methodologies, as well as the process of scoring 4,500 companies on climate change and several hundreds on water stewardship and deforestation risk management. Elina is also responsible for developing CDP’s strategy on data verification. Elina’s previous experience is in public policy, company engagement and relationship management. She holds an MA in Social Anthropology from the Goldsmiths, University of London, and a BA in Sociology.

Expert Advisors Council
Darby Hobbs is Founder and President of SOCIAL3, which fuses brand and sustainability principles through media production and presentation to cultivate ESG, Impact Investing and CSR story lines to advance clients’ vision and strategy. Producer/Anchor: Impact Investing News Update and ongoing content for Asset.tv in the area of Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) and Impact Investing. She has been a senior leader at Brown Brothers Harriman, Fidelity Investments, PNC Bank (PFPC), Financial Research Corporation, First Data Corporation and AMEX in marketing strategy, strategic and business planning, product development, public relations.

Anthony Miller is the Focal Point for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) within the Investment and Enterprise Division of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Dr. Miller is a specialist on CSR and responsible investment, with particular emphasis on how these issues impact developing countries. For five years, he served as an expert in the ISO Working Group on Social Responsibility where, as a member of the Integrated Drafting Task Force, he was responsible for drafting significant portions of the ISO 26000 standard. He is one of the principal organizers of the Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative, named by Forbes magazine as one of the “world’s best sustainability ideas”. His ongoing work includes research projects on sustainability reporting listing rules and regulatory initiatives, the CSR practices of transnational corporations, CSR impacts on global value chains, and the responsible investment practices of institutional investors.

Pipat Yodprudtikan is the director of Thaipat Institute, a public-interest organization established in 1999 that aims to promote corporate sustainability and responsibility in the private sector. He leads the operation and has delivered more than 300 engagements in research, training, and consulting with many of the multinational corporations, state enterprises, and major listed companies in Thailand. Pipat also founded the Thai Corporate Social Responsibility Network in 2005 as a platform of CSR practices for businesses and serves as a hub of CSR knowledge sharing among Thai companies. He also serves on the several committees and working groups. In early 2014, Pipat initiated the development of the first sustainability rating scheme on CSR and anti-corruption to the SEC for assessing the listed companies in the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

GISR: A Center for Ratings Excellence

Following an overview in Issue 7 of INSIGHT, GISR is moving toward a new program structure which will debut in Q4 2014. The four-part structure seeks to position GISR to achieve its goal of becoming the leading, independent source for information on sustainability ratings for the benefit of companies, investors and the ratings community worldwide. The Steering Committee will review and finalize the new structure at its Fall meeting.

Program areas

Future INSIGHTS will report progress toward implementing each component.

GISR Presents Panel on the Future of Sustainability & Ratings

Chatham House graciously hosted a panel discussion while GISR was in London in June. The by-invitation event, “Sustainability & Ratings: Charting the Future” comprised a panel with Paul Hohnen (moderator, Chatham House), Bob Mann (Sustainalytics), Chris Smith (Procter & Gamble), Mike Wilkins (Standard & Poor’s), Steve Waygood (Aviva Investors), and Allen White (GISR).

The event explored how to better integrate ESG into financial markets through the lens of company and credit ratings. Panelists offered insights from the vantage points of a rated company, two rating organizations (ESG and credit ratings), and a ratings user. Panelists explored trends and needs in the area of transparency, public access to sustainability data, correction of market failures through deeper ESG integration, and methods for creating “integrated ratings” of both companies and creditworthiness. The continued expansion of sustainability disclosures, both voluntary and mandatory, promises to elevate the quality and quantity of future sustainability ratings.

GISR Technical Review Committee - March, 2014
“Sustainability & Ratings: Charting the Future” panel discusses integrating ESG factors into financial markets at Chatham House in London on 11 June.

As the bottom line importance of sustainability issues continues to be recognized, the move towards integrated investment-decision making will become standard practice for astute investors and as part of the generally accepted definition for fiduciary duty.  Increasingly, the flow of financial resources to ESG research and ratings will benefit all players: companies on defining performance excellence, credit raters to continuous enhancement of risk analysis in a highly uncertain and volatile world, investors to conduct valuation and portfolio risk analysis, and civil society for its role in advancing education and awareness of sustainability issues.

Engagement with ESG Research & Rating Organizations

GISR marked its June committee meetings by inviting ESG research and rating organizations to participate. Representatives from EIRIS and Vigeo attended the Technical Review Committee meeting and Sustainalytics participated in both the Steering Committee meeting and briefing. Moving forward, Elina Rolfe of CDP will participate in the Technical Review Committee, joining Herwig Peeters of ARISTA. GISR invites ESG research, ratings, rankings, and index organizations to contact Mark Tulay to learn more about ways to engage with GISR. We look forward to hearing from you and to exploring opportunities for collaboration.

Broad-based engagement with ESG research and ratings organizations will be multi-faceted and collaborative, as depicted in the program areas above.

GISR Levels

“Profiles” is a baseline, a description of a rating organization and its methodologies, based on publicly available information. The Profiles will be completed by GISR for all ESG ratings, rankings, and indices and updated annually. Profiles will be made freely available to the public. The “Registry” builds off of the information included in the Profiles and will align with GISR’s 12 Principles. “Accreditation”, the third level of engagement, is a voluntary process that provides ESG research and rating providers with the opportunity to submit their methodologies to an assessment by an independent Accreditation Council.

Media

Events

  • Sustainable Brands: New Metrics ’14
    Boston, 24-26 September 2014. Public launch of GISR’s new Program Plan and rater engagement strategy. Allen White will speak during a plenary session on the topic of ESG and credit ratings. Mark Tulay will moderate a panel entitled “The Next Frontier for ESG Research and Ratings”, with participation by Bob Mann. More information and registration.
  • 2nd International Reporting 3.0 Platform Annual Conference: Reporting at the Crossroads – ensuring purpose, practicability, performance
    Berlin, 6-7 October 2014. Mark Tulay will speak during the session “Ranking and Ratings – From best in class to proof for good consumers and investors”. More information.
  • GTQ: Enhanced Sustainability Analysis & Reporting Conference 2014
    Sydney, 25 November 2014. Mark Tulay will give a keynote presentation entitled “Quantifying, communicating, and using sustainability/ESG data to drive long term shareholder value”. More information.

Support GISR

GISR relies on the generosity and commitment of a diversity of sources to meet its mission to expand and accelerate the contribution of business to sustainable development. The Supporting Stakeholder program is a global network of businesses, foundations, investors, NGOs, and individuals committed to moving markets to more sustainable outcomes. Supporting Stakeholders receive early access to GISR publications, pre-registration to GISR webinars, and invitations to special stakeholder briefings and other special events. Learn more about the Supporting Stakeholder program.

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