April 07, 2019

Responsible investing gaining popularity

Response Global Media Limited

Sophie Robinson-Tillett, deputy editor of Responsible Investor, interviews Hiromichi Mizuno, executive managing director and chief investment officer of the Government Pension Investment Fund, at the RI Asia Japan 2018 conference in Tokyo. | RESPONSIBLE INVESTOR

RI Asia Japan 2019 is a platform to learn, share and debate on key issues affecting responsible investment based on environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, which are set to define every aspect of the investment landscape in the next decade.

The RI Asia Japan conference, organized by Responsible Investor, has established a reputation for thought-provoking content via first-class speakers from around the globe.

The eighth annual conference will be held on April 10 and 11 at Tokyo Midtown in Minato Ward. The gathering is held in partnership with the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and the Japan Exchange Group (JPX), in association with Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) and the Japan Securities Dealers Association (JSDA).

The adoption and integration of ESG into investment and business practices is expected to flourish in Japan. The foundations have been in place since 2014 thanks to the Ito Review, new and revised Stewardship Code and Corporate Governance Code, the increase of Japanese signatories to the PRI and the leadership of the world’s largest pension fund — the Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF).

In the past five years, entities such as the Financial Services Agency (FSA), Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry as well as the Ministry of the Environment have been instrumental in supporting the ESG agenda, while JPX backed the RI Asia Japan conference from the start, hosting it at the Tokyo Stock Exchange. JPX is now a member of the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative, another key building block for Tokyo as a sustainable finance center.

Most notably, and core to the conference’s belief that Japan is at a tipping point, is the “Dash to the Goals,” as Keidanren titles one of its two policy proposals, extolling the virtues of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs represent a major change for responsible investment, ESG and sustainable finance, providing, in the words of Unilever’s CEO Paul Polman, a road map for planet Earth. JSDA is also publishing positive opinions about the SDGs (“The Role of Securities Industry for the Sustainable Development Goals”) and, like Keidanren, has set up an internal committee to focus on SDG policies.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of organizations such as Keidanren and JSDA putting their weight and influence behind the SDGs. Set alongside the clear leadership on the SDGs being provided by the government, this signals a key moment for responsible investing becoming mainstream in Japan.

This year’s RI Asia Japan conference will focus on climate and the SDGs. Masaya Futamiya, chair of Keidanren’s Committee on Corporate Behavior and Social Responsibility and director-chairman of Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance Inc., and Hitotsubashi University adjunct professor Kunio Ito will deliver keynote speeches on the first day.

Panel discussions, featuring industry experts and leaders, will address such topics as “What is the Evidence that ESG Enhances Investment Returns?” on the first day and “Focus on Climate and the Transition to a Low Carbon Economy” on the second.

Speakers from notable responsible investors such as GPIF, Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company, MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings Inc. and Tokio Marine Holdings Inc., as well as the Transition Pathway Initiative (an international initiative led by global asset owners for a low-carbon economy) will discuss key themes to drive the narrative in the investment chain until 2030 and beyond.

Moreover, regulators, including the FSA; the U.K. Financial Reporting Council; and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union will discuss advancement of regulations around governance and climate-related data disclosure.

In addition to regular panels, interviews and speeches, high-level experts will hold 20 in-depth breakout sessions. These will focus on stewardship and corporate governance, sustainable fixed income, equity, alternatives, natural capital and the global climate.

Along with a cocktail reception at The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo on the evening of April 10, the conference provides networking opportunities with a wide cross section of industry leaders across the investment chain.

Text provided by Responsible Investor. For more information and registration, visit www.responsible-investor.com/riasia2019en.

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