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Engagement successes highlighted in Q3 Active Ownership report

Engagement successes highlighted in Q3 Active Ownership report

30-10-2020 | Active Ownership Report
Engagement has always been one of Robeco’s strengths, as shown by work completed in the third quarter by the Active Ownership team.
  • Carola van Lamoen
    Carola
    van Lamoen
    Head of Sustainable Investing

Speed read

  • Progress made in three-year engagement with auto industry
  • New engagement program begins targeting emerging markets
  • Insight into Say-on-Pay votes and some anti-social proposals

The Q3 report leads on the results of a three-year engagement with the automotive sector aimed at cutting carbon emissions as the industry transitions away from the internal combustion engine. In a wide-ranging round-up, Cristina Cedillo reflects on the progress made and the challenges still ahead in the years to come.

Emerging markets are another challenging arena to engage with, but they also hold much potential in delivering significant improvement of environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices. As they embark upon one of the team’s major engagement themes for 2020, Michiel van Esch and Ronnie Lim set out their expectations for this tailor-made program with companies from China, South Korea and Brazil.

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Effects of Covid-19

As one engagement program begins, another ends. Closing a three-year rapport with the office real estate sector, Sylvia van Waveren explains how the program led to companies further incorporating sustainability into their processes and making more detailed disclosures. She summarizes the progress made in this high-carbon sector and highlights the initial impacts of Covid-19 on office buildings.

Another sector profoundly affected by the coronavirus pandemic is food production systems around the world. Laura Bosch provides an update on how Covid-19 is affecting various industries along the food value chain and highlights the negative effect of the crisis on progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal SDG 2: Zero hunger.

As well as engagement, voting forms an important part of the Active Ownership team’s work. As dissatisfaction with executive remuneration continues to rise among stakeholders in society, Carolina Vergroesen gives an insight on the effects of Say-on-Pay votes. And although shareholder proposals are often seen as being progressive on ESG issues, Robert Dykstra highlights the niche of some anti-social proposals that have the exact opposite goal.

Innovative ways to engage

“Throughout the past quarter, there have been several developments around our engagement program,” says Carola van Lamoen, Head of Robeco’s SI Center of Expertise. “We have officially launched our new engagement theme on improving corporate governance in emerging markets, which aims to facilitate corporate governance improvements in China, South Korea, and Brazil.”

“We continuously look for innovative ways to effectively engage on material issues, which was demonstrated by our active participation in a joint investor meeting with the vice president of Brazil to discuss the preservation of the Amazon rainforest. In addition, we have embarked in Q3 2020 on a research project to develop a framework for sovereign bondholder engagement.”

“Lastly, we are proud to announce that Robeco has taken an important next step in our SI approach with the decision to exclude investments in thermal coal, oil sands, and Arctic drilling; three fossil fuel sources with the greatest negative impact on carbon emissions and ecosystems. Through this exclusion, we can further focus our engagement efforts on companies where we can generate long-term stakeholder value.”

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