Robeco identifies 2022 key themes to protect planet

Fund manager Robeco has identified four key engagement themes for 2022 which are aimed at providing a better protection for the planet.

These would be net zero emissions, natural resource management: water and waste, diversity, equality and inclusion and Nature Action 100.

The net zero emissions theme would follow on from an existing commitment to make all Robeco’s assets under management carbon neutral by 2050.

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Carola van Lamoen, head of sustainable investing at Robeco, said that the COP26 climate summit  stressed the need to further increase engagement on net zero emissions for investors.

“This engagement theme will be an expansion of the one launched in 2020, focusing on high carbon-emitting companies that have made some progress but are still lagging in their transition to net zero,” she added.

“In scope are companies that score amber on the traffic light system, compared to companies that are at red and at risk of failing in the transition, and are then selected for enhanced climate engagement in the ‘Acceleration to Paris’ theme that was launched in 2021.”

Following this, the natural resource management engagement would focus on companies for whom the management of both water use and water waste was a material issue, meaning investors would need to account for the amount of fresh water that was needed to make certain products – often drawn from places where water is already scarce – while the discharge of toxic waste remained problematic.

Another theme was human development, which was considered vital to a more sustainable and prosperous world, particularly in reaping the rewards that greater inclusion could bring.

It would build on prior work in promoting greater diversity in the workplace, trying to achieve equal rights – particularly for female participation in more senior roles, including at board level – and making sure that every voice was heard.

“Companies play a crucial role in creating diverse, equitable and inclusive (DEI) workplaces through their human capital strategy. Evidence is mounting to show how considering a range of views, backgrounds and experience can help achieve long-term sustainable returns, as well as stay in line with the direction in which business is heading,” engagement specialist Laura Bosch said.

“Our engagement will aim to improve embedding DEI in companies' human capital strategies, setting clear targets to strengthen DEI practices and outcomes. We also expect companies to measure and disclose meaningful data and outcomes related to workforce composition, promotion, recruitment, retention rates and equity pay practices.”

As far as the Nature Action 100 was concerned, it would be a new collaboration to protect the natural environment and the millions of species of animals, plants and sea life that live within it – many of which were threatened by human development.

It would build on prior biodiversity work and is modeled on the existing Climate Action 100+ partnership with other investors and Robeco was one of the lead investors driving development of the new collaborative engagement.

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