Just days before Canada hosts the G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Que., a group of investors, including some of the country’s largest pension funds, has joined together with the federal government to promote three key issues, including increasing opportunities for women in finance and investment worldwide.

We need to think about how we’re going to ensure half of our population is more successful,” said Finance Minister Bill Morneau at a press conference on Wednesday. He called it a key moment for the public and private sectors to come together. “We don’t have enough women in the fields that are going to drive forward the success of our economy,” he said, adding that pension funds are in a particularly good place to encourage change.

The group of investors is launching a two-pronged approach to increasing opportunities for women in finance worldwide by committing to the development and implementation of diversity policies inspired by global best practices and setting up an internship program with the CFA Institute that focuses on encouraging women studying in developing markets to learn about, prepare for and gain experience in the investment industry.

Read: Millennial women in finance held back despite defying the stereotypes

The group of investors is also focusing on enhancing expertise in infrastructure financing and development in emerging and frontier economies and accelerating the implementation of comparable climate-related disclosures.

The world needs to invest $3.3 trillion in infrastructure annually through 2030 to keep pace with projected growth, according to a press release, which noted the infrastructure gap is particularly critical in emerging markets because of the lack of projects to invest in and the necessary financial and operating expertise. To tackle the issue, the group is launching an infrastructure fellowship program for senior public sector infrastructure managers in emerging and frontier markets. 

To address the need for a comprehensive framework for climate-related disclosures, the group of investors is setting up an advisory committee that will assess existing efforts by various organizations that support the adoption of the Financial Stability Board’s task force on climate-related financial disclosures, leverage those efforts into a unified approach and publish sample guidance for other institutional investors.

The group of institutional investors includes the Alberta Investment Management Corp., the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and the OPSEU Pension Trust.

Read: Institutional investors sign declaration for climate change accountability

“Climate change, gender inequality and the infrastructure gap are all significant global problems that need collective action and robust, practical solutions,” said Ron Mock, president and chief executive officer of Ontario Teachers’, in a press release.

“Institutional investors have the resources and the platform to make meaningful contributions in all of these areas. We are pleased that our initiatives align with this year’s G7 themes, while also providing tangible benefits for investors and their members.”

Also in advance of the G7 Summit, a group of 319 investors from around the world, including many Canadian institutions and asset managers, has signed a letter reiterating their commitment to the Paris agreement and their continued efforts in fighting climate change.

The letter urged all governments to act to implement the goals of the agreement “with the utmost urgency.” While the global transition to clean forms of energy is underway, the letter noted, the risks climate change presents will require much more work to ensure the resilience of global society, the economy and the financial system.

Investors around the world are increasingly throwing their economic clout behind the transition to a lower carbon world, as well as considering climate change more significantly in their overall investment processes and risk management strategies, especially when dealing with companies that are high carbon emitters, the letter stated. It also asserted investors’ concern that the current actions taken by governments won’t be enough to achieve the agreement’s goal of “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels.”

Read: Climate change task force launches new knowledge hub

This “ambition gap” between governments and that goal is of great concern to investors since, as the letter noted, “it is vital for our long-term planning and asset allocation decisions that governments work closely with investors to incorporate Paris-aligned climate scenarios into their policy frameworks and energy transition pathways.”

The letter’s signatories, representing a collective US$28 trillion in assets under management, include the Alberta Investment Management Corp., the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, the Investment Management Corp. of Ontario, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and the OPSEU Pension Trust.

Regarding a further cause, 130 Canadian and global institutional investors with $2.3 trillion in assets under management are urging Labour Minister Patty Hajdu to enact legislation to tackle enforced and child labour in global supply chains. Among the group is the Canadian Union of Public Employees’ pension plan, the OPTrust, the pension plan of the United Church of Canada and University of Toronto Asset Management Corp..

“We consider a company’s management of environmental, social and governance risks — including human rights-related risks — in our investment decision-making processes,” the statement said.

“In order to do so, however, we require up-to-date, clear and comparable information from companies about their due diligence on priority issues like modern slavery and child labour in their supply chains.”

Read: Institutional investors encouraging companies to step up actions on climate change

Copyright © 2019 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

Join us on Twitter

Add a comment

Have your say on this topic! Comments that are thought to be disrespectful or offensive may be removed by our Benefits Canada admins. Thanks!

* These fields are required.
Field required
Field required
Field required