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Given the significant role of the financial sector in achieving environmental and social impacts for our society, sustainable finance has gained importance in recent years. Sustainable, or responsible, finance considers environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in the investment lifecycle, utilizing the opportunity to reduce risk and fund positive outcomes toward sustainability. But to do so, it is crucial that firms can manage the sustainability impacts across their portfolio and report accurately on performance and ambitions to their shareholders, investors and regulators.
For many firms, this can be a complicated and overwhelming task. To better manage this process, a confidential infrastructure investor, managing global companies in telecoms, transportation and energy sectors, partnered with Arcadis to manage their sustainability program addressing environmental, social, and governance policy and objectives, risk management, performance and reporting.
Many infrastructure and real estate fund managers and asset operators submit yearly responses to GRESB, an independent organization that collects and benchmarks sustainability performance data for investors and managers and enables industry engagement and improved decision making.
GRESB evaluates and benchmarks sustainability performance, including governance and leadership, policies and targets, risk management and performance around material sustainability topics such as energy and carbon, water, waste, biodiversity, employee diversity, health and safety and customer engagement. For this client, an investment firm with a large portfolio, this is a significant effort and requires the active engagement of portfolio companies and collection and management of a huge amount of data.
Arcadis provided a team of experts experienced in sustainability strategy, risk management and reporting to lead the GRESB response process, from information gathering, coordinating fund- and asset-level inputs, and response drafting to final submission. We also coordinated the third-party verification process across an average of 80+ performance metrics for each portfolio company.
In collaboration with the asset managers and portfolio companies, we prioritized the sustainability topics that are material to their business, going beyond sustainability reporting and data management to take steps toward improving the sustainability program. This included advising the portfolio companies on sustainability policies and setting targets and commitments, and helping the portfolio companies assess their climate-related risks and integrate those risks into their risk management processes. We also managed employee and customer surveys to enhance stakeholder engagement and feedback.
Arcadis’ approach has helped our client submit GRESB responses on time and with improved responses and overall scores as well as implement process improvements that will facilitate accurate reporting in the future. The improvements in their reporting have subsequently enabled them to increase transparency and enable trust in their performance across their portfolio and geographies while ensuring that all activities align with their ESG objectives.