What is ESG? How can ESG be integrated into an index, especially in smaller markets? How can the divestment versus engagement arguments affect indices? How do ESG indices perform?
ESG risks have been poking their head above the water in Brazil over recent years, from issues surrounding the Amazon rainforest fires to corruption at Petrobras (BBC, 2018) and JBS (Schipani, 2018). At S&P Dow Jones Indices (S&P DJI), we have increasingly seen demand for ESG indices in Brazil and throughout Latin America in response to specific incidents and global shifts toward more responsible investment practices.
WHAT IS ESG?
ESG stands for environmental, social, and governance. Environmental factors look at issues connected to global warming, energy usage, pollution, etc. Social factors encompass issues such as a company’s management of health and safety, human capital practices, etc. Governance factors primarily address how a company is run, with metrics used including board structure and independence, executive compensation, and many more.
There are so many different terms floating around, including responsible investment, sustainable investment, and impact investing. These are all methods of incorporating ESG, with differing objectives. Exhibit 1 shows The Spectrum of Capital, which does a good job of defining the difference between different types of integration of ESG and how they differ from investments looking for purely financial returns.