Key ESG Trends for 2019

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MSCI ESG Research has issued its 2019 ESG Trends to Watch Report, which features five key themes.

1. China’s central role in triggering a global war on waste – In the wake of China’s decision of banning 24 kinds of solid waste, exporting countries scrambled to find new markets for their waste, which triggered waste-import bans in Thailand and Malaysia, with more countries, including Poland and Turkey, considering similar restrictions to stem the flow.

2. Regulating the business of ESG investing- MSCI expects that regulatory developments will escalate around ESG investments, rather than ESG disclosures, with 2019 being a year to play catch up, as measures governing investors’ roles and duties compel the development of investment policies that address ESG more holistically as an investment-relevant risk.  Of the more than 170 regulatory or quasi-regulatory measures proposed in 2018, 80 percent of them target institutional investors, not issuers.

3. Investment allocations to consider climate risk- While private assets like real estate may be the tip of the spear that will inevitably be impacted by climate in the next decade, MSCI expects that eventually all assets may have to be judged by the potential impact of climate change.

4. ESG from big data to big signal- It will become increasingly important to know how to extract the most relevant signals from a proliferation of ever-bigger data to achieve better-differentiated investments objectives. ESG ratings today serve as a common language for measuring the long-term resilience of companies and their ability to manage emerging ESG risks and opportunities for a growing number of investors.

5. Leadership in the age of transparency- Amid the age of transparency and high-profile scandals, 2019 may mark a turning point for investors tired of paying the cost for companies slow to adapt when the internal becomes external and the whole world can judge misconduct for itself.

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