Sustainability Gets Serious - Guest Blog from Jess Stevens, GVA
We are delighted to host a guest blog by Jess Stevens, Associate, Sustainability at GVA. The blog centres around the shift in attitude towards the topic of sustainability for UK Fund Managers and Investors.
GVA recently released the fifth report in their Green to Gold series, a survey which investigates how UK fund managers and investors currently view and factor the risks attributable to rising sustainability regulation and market demands.
Since our first report in 2007, we’ve witnessed a significant shift in attitude towards sustainability. The 2014 results highlight consistent trends of increasing consideration, incorporation and reporting of sustainability issues in investment decisions and activities. More than half of the respondents believe that the market no longer sees sustainability as just a ‘nice to have’, but rather that it is starting to be or is already being considered a key driver of investment performance. In addition, 94% of UK fund managers and investors have a sustainability policy in place at either the organisation or fund level for the properties and funds they manage and 98% report the sustainability performance of their portfolios.
The headline results were presented to an audience of industry professionals on the 6th November, who engaged in an interesting debate with the speakers and panel members. It became clear from the discussion that although the market has made considerable progress since sustainability first hit the business agenda, there is still a need for the wider industry to better understand and address these issues.
Part of the problem is the definition of sustainability, which is constantly evolving and which can differ depending on the type of organisation and its priorities. In addition, there is still uncertainty around what it means to truly integrate sustainability into business activities and investment decisions. It is true that there are several industry leaders setting excellent examples of how to do this, but for the majority of the market there is still a significant amount of educating and catching up to be done.
Nevertheless, we are celebrating the progress that has been made and the increased number of investors and fund managers who are moving away from the simple tick-box mind-set. Whether this growing momentum is a result of increased regulatory pressure, climate change risks or occupier demand, it is clear that sustainability is increasingly being considered as best practice.