ESG roundup: UK ‘economics of biodiversity’ review kicks into gear
A government-commissioned review on the economics of biodiversity has launched a call for evidence, including in its scope the effects of financial services regulation.
The review was announced by the UK’s treasury department in March and is being led by Sir Partha Dasgupta, a professor at the University of Cambridge.
A government minister has stated that the review is the first on biodiversity to be led by an economics and finance-related department.
According to documents released today, the review will examine evidence on how biodiversity supports sustainable economic growth. It will also assess the implications of further biodiversity loss for the prospects for economic growth over the coming decades, and “the impact, effectiveness and efficiency of existing national and international actions and arrangements to limit and reverse the loss of biodiversity and their impact on economic growth”.
The consultation period will run until 6 November. Sir Partha is due to deliver a report before a UN conference on biodiversity in China in October next year.
The main audiences for the review, according to the government, are “economic and finance policy and decision makers who significantly influence the response to biodiversity loss through policy, finance and investment decisions”.
Other questions relating to the financial sector include:
- What are the most effective actions that the private sector generally, and finance sector specifically, can take and have taken that both enhance biodiversity and deliver economic prosperity?
- What actions should government take to enable the private sector and finance to take these actions?
- What evidence exists regarding the impact on biodiversity loss and economic prosperity of rules relating to financial disclosure, standards and certification schemes, and policies affecting investment decisions?
SEC open meeting and proxy advice
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will next week consider whether or not to publish “an interpretation” and related guidance about the use of proxy advice in the shareholder voting process, according to law firm Davis Polk.
The agenda for the meeting on 21 August also indicated that the US regulator’s division of investment management would consider issuing guidance on the proxy voting responsibilities of investment advisers.
According to the law firm, these responsibilities included advisers’ adoption of “policies and procedures that are reasonably designed to ensure that the advisers vote… in the best interests of their clients and disclosing how advisers resolve conflicts of interest”.
As noted by Davis Polk, the meeting comes against a backdrop of rising concerns in the US about the influence of of proxy advisory firms’ voting recommendations on shareholder vote outcomes and corporate governance practices in the US in general.
In the UK, regulations introducing transparency requirements for proxy advisers took effect in June. The regulations implemented the parts of the revised EU Shareholder Rights Directive that deal with proxy advisers. Firms active in the EU last month signed up to a new set of best practice principles.