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Sustainability Report 2020: ‘There is no recovery without sustainability’

Sustainability Report 2020: ‘There is no recovery without sustainability’

04-05-2021 | Insight
A commitment to sustainable investing that has become stronger than ever in the era of Covid-19 is highlighted in Robeco’s Sustainability Report 2020.
  • Gilbert Van Hassel
    Gilbert
    Van Hassel
    CEO

Speed read

  • Renewed focus on climate change with specialist staff and funds
  • Exclusions extended to fossil fuels, net zero carbon pledge made
  • Two new climate funds launched aligned with Paris Agreement

The annual report lists everything that Robeco has done over the year, from assets under management, new products and initiatives, to its role as an employer and charitable work in the local Rotterdam community.

The year was dominated by Covid-19, which forced most staff to work from home from early March – a policy that is still in place over 12 months later. Given the need for the world to return to normal in the wake of the devastating pandemic, the title of the report is ‘There is no recovery without sustainability’.

There were several highlights during the year, led by a greater focus on climate change. In April, Robeco refreshed its climate policy and created two dedicated roles – a climate strategist and a climate data scientist. In August, Robeco was again awarded the highest possible sustainability A+ scores by the Principles for Responsible Investment, as well as being included in the 2020 PRI Leaders Group.

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Exclusions extended

In September, the exclusion policy that pertains to companies involved in contentious business practices was extended to fossil fuels. Companies that derive 25% or more of their revenues from thermal coal or oil sands, or 10% from Arctic drilling, were barred from Sustainability Inside funds. Lower thresholds were applied to the more bespoke Sustainability Focused and Impact Investing ranges.

Zurich-based RobecoSAM was renamed as Robeco Switzerland in November. RobecoSAM remains an ingredient brand for selected SI research and intelligence that is used throughout the company. The name has also been retained to label the range of impact investing products offered from Switzerland.

Climate funds and net zero pledge

Two new funds were launched in December – Robeco Climate Global Bonds and Robeco Climate Global Credits – which follow a benchmark aligned with the Paris Agreement that was specifically created for this purpose. Other funds launched in 2020 include RobecoSAM Circular Economy Equities, which invests in the transition away from the linear economic model, and RobecoSAM Global Green Bonds, the first standalone capability in this area.

Also in December, Robeco announced its ambition to achieve net zero emissions across all its assets under management by 2050 within the framework of the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative. In order to achieve this, specific decarbonization targets will be announced before the COP26 Climate Summit in November 2021.

Embracing sustainability

“Looking ahead, the recovery offers the world a unique chance to fully embrace sustainability. Because this is not just an economic crisis. It is a major global health crisis, brought on by a climate and biodiversity crisis,” says Gilbert Van Hassel, Chief Executive Officer of Robeco, in the introduction to the report.

“This will require us to tackle three clear priorities. First, restore our planet’s health. Secondly, wealth and well-being must be shared more widely. And thirdly: without good governance at both governments and companies, no recovery will be sustainable. I believe we have reached a tipping point, where the cost of inaction far outweighs the investment needed to have a positive impact.”

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