16 April 2021, New York, USA (Virtual) - The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), in partnership with the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, successfully delivered the workshop entitled “Values at Work: Sustainable Investing and ESG Reporting” from 7-8 April 2021. The workshop was attended by 40 participants and focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics and the push for companies and investors to remake business models in order to respond to the goals outlined by the SDGs. This workshop is supported under the programme “Levelling the Playing Field”, with funding allocated from the Swedish International Development Agency’s (SIDA) contribution to the UNITAR Strategic Framework Fund.
The workshop was opened by Mr. Marco A. Suazo, UNITAR NYO Head of Office. He delivered opening remarks and spoke about the importance of private sector involvement in achievement of the SDGs. Mr. Suazo stressed that this is an opportunity for business and government to come together and promote sustainability. He then introduced the moderator of the workshop’s panel, Dr. Todd Cort, a Lecturer in Sustainability at the Yale School of Management and Co-Director of the Yale Initiative on Sustainable Finance. Dr. Cort spoke briefly on the themes of the workshop and asserted that we live in extraordinary times for sustainable investing. He explained the sustainable investing has nearly triple from 2012 to 2018 and governments are now integrating ESG reporting in regulations. Dr. Cort then introduced the panelists, Ms. Hana Vizcarra, Staff Attorney at Harvard Law School’s Environment and Energy Law Program and Mr. Ashley Walter, Partner in Orrick’s Seattle Office.
Ms. Hana Vizcarra focused her presentation on the evolving standards and regulation in the industry. Ms. Vizcarra began by overviewing the growing risk awareness regarding responsible investments, as well as how the industry moved from awareness to action. She outlined the recommended climate-related financial disclosures and the priorities that companies have in implementing these models into business. Ms. Vizcarra also spoke about the US disclosure laws and regulations that impact these efforts.
Mr. Ashley Walter was next to speak, and he focused his presentation on the perspective of private companies on ESG reporting. First, he defined the terms included in the environmental, social and governance categories of ESG reporting and elaborated on what factors are located under each pillar. Mr. Walter then gave examples of ESG due diligence in private companies, demonstrating the ways in which sustainability is being considered in business models. He concluded by speaking on the rise of ESG data, which makes it easier for businesses to become aware of how to integrate ESG reporting into companies.
A brief Q&A session moderated by Dr. Cort followed, in which participants asked many questions related to the international implications of increased ESG reporting and additional ways investors can guide implementation of ESG measures. Mr. Suazo concluded the session by reinforcing the importance of this topic to the achievement of the SDGs, and thanked the participants for their attendance.