Canadian ESG-related investment assets surge to $3.2 trillion: report

The British Columbia Investment Management Corp. is becoming “more intentional about” its ongoing environmental, social and governance efforts in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, says Jennifer Coulson, vice-president of ESG and public markets for the investment manager.

Its 2020 annual report highlights the BCIs’ expansion of its carbon footprint reporting to include all asset classes and the growth of measured exposure to climate-related investment opportunities to $3 billion.

Read: ESG factors at the heart of the BCI’s investing strategy

The BCI also increased its cumulative historical participation in sustainable bonds to $888 million — up from $356 million in 2019 — and it estimated its strategies in fixed income will lead to a cumulative participation of $5 billion in sustainable bonds by 2025, according to a press release. In addition, the QuadReal Property Group, which manages the BCI’s real estate program, released its green bond framework and closed its $350-million inaugural green bond senior note offering.

Coulson says the investment manager is also increasing its allocation to sustainable bonds amid a maturing market, including an increased focus on social investment factors. “We felt it was a good time to become more intentional about it. We’ve been participating in the sustainable bond market over the years — we were more pure green in the early days but with the pandemic, we’re also seeing more on the social side as well, so there’s a mix of green and social bonds. We want to facilitate the development of that market and we’re seeing a lot of value from being more active within that space.”

Read: BCI publishes ESG strategy

The BCI also completed more than 225 detailed ESG reviews across private and public markets and participated in seven collaborative engagements in public markets, covering 633 companies on ESG-related matters. It also jointly established the SDI Asset Owner Platform — alongside the AustralianSuper pension fund and Dutch pension funds APG and PGGM — to provide a globally-consistent standard for investing in the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.

“In speaking with our peers, we wanted to support the development of a global standard,” says Coulson. “As asset owners and managers become more familiar with the goals and want to show to what extent they’re aligning [with the goals], there’s a consistent way of doing that.”

Read: BCI adopts more stringent ESG expectations for companies it invests in