Derived from this definition of sustainable development, sustainable investing is broadly defined as the practice of using environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors when making investment decisions about which stocks or bonds to buy. While definitions differ, one of the most widely accepted is that used by the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI), which said in 2005:
“Responsible investment is an approach to investing that aims to incorporate ESG factors into investment decisions, to better manage risk and generate sustainable, long-term returns.”
A study by Bridges Fund Management entitled ‘The Bridges Spectrum of Capital’ in 2015 said the difference between responsible and sustainable investment was one of degree. Responsible investment sought to “mitigate risky ESG practices in order to protect value”, while sustainable investment aimed to “adopt progressive ESG practices that may enhance value.” Robeco follows the latter principle that using ESG factors can not only protect against downside risk, but can also generate upside, particularly in identifying the future-proof companies.
The principal aim is to make investment portfolios and their constituent companies more sustainable, and therefore more viable, over the long term. Robeco has long believed that integrating ESG factors into the investment process leads to better-informed investment decisions and superior risk-adjusted returns. This goes beyond simply excluding companies with unsustainable or unethical practices, but using wider research to decide what to include in portfolios, as well as what to leave out. Robeco also firmly believes that sustainable investing should include the use of active ownership through voting and engagement to improve the ESG credentials of companies.
The perception of what constitutes sustainable investing has changed over time. The first users of ethical principles in business transactions were the Quakers of the 18th century, who refused to deal with anyone involved in the slave trade, creating the first exclusions.
The concept of sustainable investing progressed further with the notion of the ‘triple bottom line’ of the ‘three Ps’ in 1995. British businessman John Elkington said any enterprise needed to consider the three Ps of ‘People, Planet, Profit’ (and not just the final word) as each being equally important for the long-term success of society. This eventually morphed into environmental, social and governance factors, or ESG, which now forms the bedrock of most sustainable investing processes.
Other common definitions of sustainable investing include ‘ethical investing’ – though what is considered to be ethical differs among investors – along with ‘socially responsible investing’. ‘Impact investing’ specifically refers to a style of investment that targets a measurable beneficial impact on the environment or society, as well as earning a positive financial return.
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2 Terms and Conditions
You acknowledge that you have read these Terms and Conditions (“Terms”) prior to accessing the website located at www.robeco.com/sg (“Website”) and you agree to be bound by the Terms. If you do not agree to all of the Terms, you are not an authorised user and you should not use the Website. The Website is owned by Robeco Singapore Private Limited (company registration number: UEN. 201541306Z), which is licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (“MAS”) pursuant to the Securities and Futures Act (Cap.289) (“SFA”) of Singapore, and is managed by Robeco Singapore Private Limited and/or its affiliates (collectively, as “Robeco”). The Website is intended for and should be accessed by institutional investors or accredited investors (as defined under Section 4A of the SFA) of Singapore. The Website is not directed to, or intended for distribution to or use by, any person or entity who is a citizen or resident of or located in any locality, state, country or other jurisdiction where such distribution, publication, availability or use would be contrary to law or regulation or which would subject the Robeco to any registration or licensing requirement within such jurisdiction. It is your responsibility to observe all applicable laws, rules and regulations of any relevant jurisdiction. The content contained in the Website is owned by Robeco and/or its information providers and is protected by applicable copyrights, trademarks, service marks, and/or other intellectual property rights. You may not copy, distribute, modify, post, frame or link the Website, including any text, graphics, video, audio, software code, user interface, design or logos. You may not distribute, modify, transmit, reuse, repost, or use the content of the Website for public or commercial use, including all text, images, audio and/or video. Robeco may terminate your access to the Website for any reason, without prior notice. Neither Robeco, nor any of its associates, nor any director, officer or employee accepts any liability whatsoever for any loss arising directly or indirectly from the access of the Website. You agree to indemnity and hold Robeco, its associates, directors, officers or employees harmless against any and all claims, losses, liability, costs and expenses arising from your use of the Website due to violation of the Terms. Robeco reserves the right to change, modify, add or remove any parts of the Terms at any time and for any reason. The Terms shall deemed to be effective immediately upon posting. The Terms shall be governed by, and shall be construed in accordance with, the law of Singapore.
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