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von | Apr 14, 2017

UN Principles for Responsible Investment

UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) are a set of six principles that provides a global standard for responsible investing as it relates to environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) factors.

The goal of following these principles is to meet commitments to beneficiaries while better aligning investment activities with the broader interests of society. (L2)

Organizations called signatories must publicly commit to adopt and implement the six principles where consistent with the signatories’ fiduciary responsibilities. Below are the six principles along with a non-exhaustive list of ways organizations can promote each principle.

  1. We will incorporate ESG issues into investment analysis and decision-making processes. Signatories can follow the first principle by supporting the development of ESG-related tools, metrics and analyses and by encouraging research and analysis by service providers and by academics on ESG-related issues.
  2. We will be active owners and incorporate ESG issues into our ownership policies and practices. Signatories can follow the second principle by promoting and protecting shareholder rights and by engaging with companies on ESG issues.
  3. We will seek appropriate disclosure on ESG issues by the entities in which we invest. Organizations can ask companies to integrate ESG issues into their annual financial reports and request standardized reporting on ESG issues through tools such as the Global Reporting Initiative – a sustainability reporting effort that asks organizations to disclose their impact on climate change, human rights, corruption, and other sustainability issues.
  4. We will promote acceptance and implementation of the principles within the investment industry. Signatories might communicate their ESG expectations with service providers and revisit relationships with those that don’t adhere to ESG guidelines.
  5. We will work together to enhance our effectiveness in implementing the principles. Organizations can collaborate to address new issues and support initiatives through sharing information, tools and resources.
  6. We will each report on our activities and progress towards implementing the principles. Through this principle, organizations aim to raise awareness about ESG principles among more stakeholders and beneficiaries.

The signatories voluntarily agree to uphold, support, and promote the principles while better managing risk and seeking to responsibly increase investment returns. Signatories demonstrate their commitment to responsible investing and a more sustainable financial system and join a community of like-minded organizations.

To be eligible to become a signatory, an organization must be an asset owner, investment manager, or service provider. Examples of asset owners include pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, foundations, endowments, insurance and reinsurance companies, and other financial institutions that manage deposits. Investment managers are organizations that oversee a third party’s assets in the institutional or retail market. Service providers offer products or services to asset owners and/or investment managers.

Signatories must sign a declaration on a company letterhead to commit to incorporate ESG issues in their investment analysis and decisions, to promote the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) within the investment industry, and to publicly report on their progress towards implementing the principles. The principles are considered aspirational, and organizations may become signatories as long as they are working toward the principles.

Becoming a signatory also entails paying a fee that is based on the signatory’s category, type, and assets under management (AUM). For example, an asset owner with £1 billion in AUM would pay an annual fee of £2,860, while an asset owner with more than £50 billion in AUM would pay £8,190. Asset owners headquartered in developing or emerging market countries may receive a discount.

The six principles for responsible investment are based on acting in the best long-term interests of retail and institutional investors, the financial markets, the economy, and the environment and society as a whole. The United Nations (UN) supports the principles, and a separate nonprofit organization oversees the program.