On September 25, 2015, the member countries of the United Nations (UN) adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an action plan to fight against poverty, safeguard the planet and improve the lives of people around the world.
With these ambitious goals, which are a universal call to action for citizens, governments, civil society and the private sector, it is hoped that tangible results will be achieved by 2030. At the time these 17 goals were adopted, the UN estimated that the global investments needed to achieve them within the allotted timeframe could amount to some USD 7 trillion annually1.
While it is true that, nowadays, citizens and various civil society organizations can increasingly be relied upon to put pressure on governments around the world to redouble their efforts to combat poverty or climate change, for example, many still doubt the willingness of the private sector to make a real difference.
The truth is that the private sector can and must take into account environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria. Moreover, it is very much in the interest of private firms to do so, as the evidence shows that efforts to this effect tend to create long-term value. According to former Bank of Canada and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, now UN Special Envoy on Climate Action, each dollar invested for the transition to a green economy generates on average four dollars in benefits2. And that's where National Bank Investments (NBI) comes in. Our ambition is to be an accelerator that promotes the growth and evolution of investment solutions, with the aim of making a positive impact in the lives of our clients, employees and partners. Our leadership in responsible investing is very much aligned with this orientation.
Thanks to our open architecture structure which gives us flexibility and empowerment, NBI can select from among the best portfolio managers in the world and provide Canadian investors with access to their expertise. An important pillar when we assess managers is how ESG criteria are incorporated into their investment process.
In recent years, NBI has been taking innovation a step further. We are working to develop a lineup of actively managed Sustainable Development ETFs based on the 17 UN SDGs. We were also the first in Canada to integrate the UN SDGs into our responsible investment process.
This means that, as part of our open architecture structure, portfolio managers who are responsible for sub-managing our Sustainable Development ETFs must ensure that they invest in securities that contribute to achieving one or more of the SDGs. We can therefore demonstrate that all securities that make up our Sustainable Development ETFs contribute positively to the common good while creating value for investors.
Through our commitment to responsible investing and to the United Nations as a signatory to the Principles for Responsible Investment, NBI is making it clear that we want to be part of the solution. We want to consolidate our position as a leader in responsible investment to inspire the next generation of investors and investment advisors. Looking ahead to 2030 starts today.
1 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), World Investment Report 2014 – Investing in the SDGs: An Action Plan.
2 United Nations, Financing Climate Action, Mark Carney: Investing in net-zero climate solutions creates value and rewards.
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