Originally Published in IFA by Adrian Flores

A global asset manager predicts 2019 will see more investing according to sustainable development goals, and is something that will provide new perspectives and is not merely “a marketing gimmick”.

According to Robeco’s head of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) integration, Masja Zandbergen, sustainable development goals (SDGs) have made quite some impact since their launch at the end of 2015.

She cited research from the Dutch Association of Investors for Sustainable Development (VBDO) that found that, in the Dutch pensions market, over 80 per cent of the funds have discussed the SDGs in board meetings, while 34 per cent already have a policy in place.

“These policies and strategies are mostly aimed at making a positive contribution to the SDGs. Negative contributions are often not yet taken into account,” Ms Zandbergen said.

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Seen in this light, Ms Zandbergen said it is understandable that there is also a lot of criticism on the progress made, and some people consider SDG investing as a marketing gimmick.

However, she took a different interpretation of the research.

“Compared to the traditional way of SRI investing, which is often a best-in-class approach investing equally in all sectors, taking into account not only the operational and behavioural aspects of companies, but also the contribution of their products to sustainable development, is bringing a different perspective. This is leading to different and distinct portfolios,” Ms Zandbergen said.

“Even if we have only taken the first step, and by no means are we there yet, the direction is clear: investing for true sustainable development is the way forward.”

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