Dim sum, noodles and an ESG roundtable

The Lens recently returned from its home away from home, Hong Kong, where dim sum, noodles and an ESG roundtable were on the menu.

Five senior members of the sustainable investment community shared their views on the array of topics that the ESG spectrum incorporates and Asia’s efforts to ratchet up its focus in this area.

While the continent has traditionally lagged behind its global peers when it comes to ESG allocation (10% compared to 18% globally according to BNP Paribas survey), it is seeing growth, and many believe that the gap will narrow over time – particularly with greater availability of better-quality data.

As China, a vast market of more than a billion people, opens up to foreign investors with the internationalisation of its A-shares market, investors are sensing the benefit of using foreign capital market practice as a way of helping to encourage reform within Chinese companies.

Of course, no ESG roundtable would be complete without addressing the biggest threat facing humanity: the climate crisis. It was ranked as the most important sustainability issue by 22% of investors last year, and our line-up discussed the transition to cleaner energy and a lower carbon economy, pollution from plastics and senior-level responsibility for key issues.

What is certain is that ESG is becoming more entrenched in the investment process – but we are still only at the beginning of what could be a long and prosperous journey ahead for people and the planet.