It is important to remember that sustainable finance regulations are not a sales opportunity, rather they offer an opportunity to redress past inaction and improve sustainability in investing while offering clients greater choice.
Recently, I spent time in Finnmark in North Norway, including some time with the indigenous Sámi people. A good number of those we met were the proud owners of impressive reindeer herds. This semi-nomadic livelihood demands a close and intimate connection to nature, and it was sobering to hear how even slight changes in the environment, mostly driven by climate change, can have such a profound impact on their lives and their financial security.
This is the reality of unsustainable behaviour, very often in other parts of the world. It is some distance from the sweeping and ambitious claims of marketeers now flooding the market with all manner of green or sustainable products or solutions. Indeed, there is a prevailing sense that some may have lost sight of the intention behind sustainable finance regulation; it is not a sales opportunity, it is an opportunity to redress past inaction and improve sustainability in investing, while offering clients greater choice.
Active ownership is key
In SKAGEN, we strive always to keep a firm grasp on reality – and we are close enough to our clients to ensure that this reality matches their own. This final report for 2021 details the nuts and bolts of our active engagement activity – an activity we are skilled and experienced in. Working together with portfolio companies is arguably one of the very best ways to achieve real change and improvement, and more sustainable investing. And our record of active voting on a range of items, across the spectrum of environmental, social and governance areas, ensures that the fiduciary responsibility that we exercise on behalf of unit holders is the best that it can be. Read more from page 7 of the report.
An important change for SKAGEN during 2021 has been the expansion of our ESG integration framework, together with the provision of additional ESG data and analysis capacity. This four-pillar approach allows SKAGEN to better evaluate potential and existing investments for their sustainability risk and opportunity. This does not fundamentally change SKAGEN's position on sustainable investing, but it does enable us to do it better and with better data – which is arguably the greatest challenge nowadays.
Corporate sustainability efforts
At a corporate level, one unwished for benefit of the global pandemic has been an improved carbon footprint for the firm – driven mostly by a reduction in air travel. SKAGEN is not a large firm, but doing our utmost to live and operate well, and sustainably, matters to colleagues. We have therefore chosen to focus our efforts into three main areas as defined by the UN sustainable development goals, relating to gender equity (and wider aspects of diversity), decent work and economic growth, and climate action. In each area, we have taken active, tangible measures to set objectives and achieve them. Read more from page 23 of the report.
At the time of writing, war has returned to the continent of Europe. Having served in the Balkans in the latter part of the previous century, it is something I had hoped might be behind us. As a father of a serving soldier, it is a matter of grave concern. And for the good people of Ukraine, it is nothing short of a tragedy, and they are surely in our thoughts and prayers at this time.