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ESG Insider is a new podcast from S&P Global that takes you inside the environmental, social & governance issues shaping the business world today. Each episode, co-hosts Lindsey White and Esther Whieldon will speak with experts and leverage S&P Global data to shine a light on the ESG opportunities and risks that business leaders and investors need to know about. Lindsey White is a financial news editor with S&P Global Market Intelligence. Esther Whieldon is a sustainability and climate news reporter, also with Market Intelligence.

ESG Insider: A podcast from S&P Global S&P Global

    • Zakelijk nieuws

ESG Insider is a new podcast from S&P Global that takes you inside the environmental, social & governance issues shaping the business world today. Each episode, co-hosts Lindsey White and Esther Whieldon will speak with experts and leverage S&P Global data to shine a light on the ESG opportunities and risks that business leaders and investors need to know about. Lindsey White is a financial news editor with S&P Global Market Intelligence. Esther Whieldon is a sustainability and climate news reporter, also with Market Intelligence.

    These are the top issues the ESG world is focused on in 2020

    These are the top issues the ESG world is focused on in 2020

    "Baby steps are equivalent to nothing in this day and age.” This is what Mindy Lubber told ESG Insider, an S&P Global podcast about the environmental, social and governance issues shaping company strategies and investor decisions. Lubber is CEO of sustainability nonprofit Ceres, and she was talking about how slowly many companies are reacting to climate change and disclosing their environmental risks.
    In this first episode of 2020, ESG Insider talked to Lubber and other key stakeholders across the ESG world about the issues they are focused on in the new decade. The sluggish response to rapidly worsening climate risks was a recurring theme.
    "Given the immediacy of climate change, I am constantly surprised at the slow reaction of the markets of institutional investors," said Christopher Ailman, chief investment officer of the California State Teachers' Retirement System. CalSTRS is the 2nd-largest U.S. pension fund with a $248 billion investment portfolio.
    Even companies that recognize the threat of climate change continue struggling with how to measure and disclose it. The lack of relevant, quality and comparable ESG data was another recurring theme among attendees of Sustainable Finance Week, a series of events in New York City where policymakers, asset owners and managers and corporations from around the globe convened in December.
    "CEOs are thinking about it. Insurance companies, frankly, are already pricing it in. Investors need to wake up and recognize this is a factor they've got to think about in their portfolio," Ailman told ESG Insider.
    The lack of standards continues to create survey fatigue. Corporations are devoting a lot of time and money to filling out surveys from all different stakeholders about their ESG data — a common refrain at ESG conferences.
    The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board is working to address this problem. SASB is a U.S. nonprofit organization developing disclosure standards for material ESG factors, and ESG Insider spoke to Jeff Hales, chair of SASB's Standards Board, during the group's annual symposium.
    There is a potential upside to survey fatigue, however, as we hear from the head of U.S. stewardship and sustainable investing for Legal & General Investment Management America in the episode.
    Listen to the episode, and subscribe to ESG Insider on Soundcloud to catch future episodes.
    (Photo: AP)

    • 22 min.
    Inside the campaign to end forced labor in Uzbekistan's cotton fields

    Inside the campaign to end forced labor in Uzbekistan's cotton fields

    In this episode of ESG Insider, S&P Global Market Intelligence reporter Gautam Naik takes listeners inside the campaign to end forced labor in Uzbekistan's cotton fields. He visited Uzbek cotton fields during the 2019 harvest, sat down with human rights activists and interviewed government ministers trying to change the system.
    A decade ago, Uzbekistan forced more than one million doctors, teachers, nurses and even schoolchildren to head out into the fields each autumn and bring in the cotton crop. Back then, a good chunk of Uzbek cotton – produced under harsh conditions of forced labor -- ended up in thousands of shirts, jeans and shoes sold by western fashion brands. But as more and more companies stopped using Uzbek cotton, something unexpected happened: the government backed down and decided to aggressively roll back its state-sponsored forced-labor regime.
    For investors and asset managers who worry about the risks of labor exploitation in consumer supply chains, the Uzbekistan cotton story is a rare thing -- a vivid example of how corporate pressure can lead to enduring change in the global fight against forced labor.
    Listen to the episode to learn more, and read the story on spglobal.com: https://bit.ly/2sCX1Wq
    Subscribe to ESG Insider to catch future episodes.
    (Photo: AP)

    • 17 min.
    PE's approach to ESG evolving, but could be mandatory in future

    PE's approach to ESG evolving, but could be mandatory in future

    Private equity investors are paying increasing attention to environmental, social and governance factors and in response many firms are implementing strategies to ensure portfolio companies are screened against ESG factors. This focus is likely to intensify and could even become a requirement for a fund over time, representatives from some of the world’s most prominent private equity firms say in the latest episode of ESG Insider, an S&P Global podcast.
    At The Blackstone Group Inc., the world’s largest alternative investment firm, the ESG strategy is focused on making low-cost and no-cost operational improvements in its portfolio companies — in particular looking for ways to reduce energy and water consumption, and improve efficiency and reduce costs through the operation and maintenance of equipment.
    "An example of this work [is] we can look at our investment in the Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas, where we really went in there and helped with energy and water consumption reduction programs, implementing LED lighting throughout the hotel, increasing their recycling rates and improving waste separation efforts just to boost that," Blackstone Global Head of ESG Alison Fenton-Willock tells ESG Insider.
    ESG considerations are nothing new for many private equity firms, but the industry’s approach is evolving.
    KKR & Co. Inc., another big alternative asset manager, launched a program over a decade ago focused on supply chain through the lens of issues like worker wellness, transparency and anti-corruption.
    Over the next 10 years, ESG methodology will be an "absolute requirement" for every general partner, or GP, according to Hamilton Lane Inc. managing director Ana Lei Ortiz. The alternative investment management firm, which invests in private equity funds on behalf of its limited partners, or LPs, performs ESG due diligence on the firms it backs and monitors for adherence with ESG standards across a fund's lifecycle.
    "[In 10 years GPs] will have to have very clear policies, they'll have to disclose a whole lot of information," Lei Ortiz says. “They won't be able to raise a fund if they're not able to address these basic questions."
    Subscribe to the ESG Insider podcast to catch future episodes.
    (Photo: AP)

    • 15 min.
    The problem with social audits

    The problem with social audits

    Social audits are used by consumer goods companies to identify potential human rights abuses, labor violations, and other ESG risks in their supply chains. But critics argue that social audits fall short of their stated objectives. In this episode of ESG Insider, we explore the social audit process and talk to experts about flaws in the system. (Photo: AP)

    • 22 min.
    How a non-profit is using technology to fight child labor in the cocoa industry

    How a non-profit is using technology to fight child labor in the cocoa industry

    Child labor has been a longstanding scourge in the $100-billion cocoa industry for more than two decades. Despite efforts by U.S. Congressmen, African governments, the world’s biggest chocolate companies and various non-profit groups, it has been a tough nut to crack. In this episode, we look at program that actually seems to be having an effect. It uses a network of smartphones to identify child laborers on thousands of remote farms in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. It then tries to persuade farmers to stop using their children on farms and to send them to school instead. You will hear from cocoa farmers in Ghana, from Nestle, maker of KitKat, and a Swiss non-profit group called the International Cocoa Initiative, or ICI, which co-founded the program. (Photo: AP)

    • 14 min.
    New EU taxonomy helps investors, companies identify green investments

    New EU taxonomy helps investors, companies identify green investments

    A proposed new European Union green classification system would help investors and companies identify and make environmentally friendly decisions and may evolve over time to include rules for social and governance-related investments, experts explain on the latest episode of ESG Insider, an S&P Global podcast.
    The taxonomy, which the European Commission released for comment in June, "sits at the heart of the EU's action plan on sustainable finance and it's really the essential definition by which we can all judge whether something is green and sustainable or not," said Richard Mattison, CEO of Trucost, which is part of S&P Global Market Intelligence.
    Mattison, who worked with the EU to craft the recommendations for the taxonomy, also outlined ways companies and investors are likely to apply the rules. And he indicated the policy may be refined and expanded over time to cover a more comprehensive list of social and governance issues such as gender diversity and forced labor.
    Also in the episode, we talked to Sean Kidney, CEO of the Climate Bonds Initiative, which has its own taxonomy for green bonds. Kidney said the EU's classification system could open up the green bond market to a whole new set of issuers.
    The EU taxonomy has broader implications too, according to June Choi, a research analyst at the Climate Policy Initiative.
    "The fact that the EU is taking such a high-level action on climate change sends a very important policy signal, not just for sustainable investors, but to the society in general, because it shows ... a certain level of political resolve to tackle climate change," Choi said.
    To catch future episodes of ESG Insider, subscribe on Soundcloud, Spotify or iTunes.
    (Photo: AP)

    • 27 min.

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