Sustainability more pressing than US-China trade war

While the potential impacts of the US-China trade war are atop most investors’ minds, sustainability issues, particularly global waste and climate change, are potentially more pressing, according to Robeco’s head of ESG, Masja Zandbergen-Albers.

Zandbergen-Albers said three sustainability trends that would become increasingly important in 2019 were climate change, global waste and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

The head of ESG said, given fossil fuels and high energy-intensity industries still account for 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, she expects stronger regulation in the climate change area.

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As well, Zandbergen-Albers expects a move from a linear to a circular economy as the pressures on the environment from a growing population take their toll.

“Embedding circular principles into operations will reduce resource consumption, improve resource efficiency and reduce the overall cost of waste management, which is good for the bottom line,” she said.

SDG investing could also overtake the traditional socially responsible investing (SRI) style, with over 80 per cent of funds in the Dutch pension market discussing SGDs in board meetings.

“Compared to the traditional way of SRI investing, which is often a best-in-class approach investing equally in all sectors, taking into account not only the operational and behavioural aspects of companies, but also the contribution of their products to sustainable development, is bringing a different perspective,” she said.

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