Overview of Yearbook articles

Each year we publish a series of articles to accompany the industry results contained in the Yearbook. This year’s edition of The Sustainability Yearbook focuses on several distinct issues at the convergence of business culture, management practice, public discontent, investor values, and sustainability research. Moreover, we look at these critical issues through the lens of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for insight into how they can help inspire and reform business culture and practice for a better future for all of society.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Corporate Policy Influence under scrutiny in the age of SDGs

The ability to petition political leadership is a key component of modern democracy. Corporations are essential contributors to political discourse as they provide policy makers with important industry-specific perspectives and information, and can be strong voices supporting policy that improves economic and social welfare. However, corporate policy influence can also lead to economic inefficiency, environmental degradation, and the loss of human health and life. Moreover, public awareness of the misuse of influence and distrust of corporations is on the rise. The popularity of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)1 as a tool by governments and shareholders will increase the importance of public-private sector discourse as a vehicle for information sharing and idea generation. A bounty of benefits awaits companies that use their channels of influence for positive impact for communities and society. The opposite awaits companies that use policy influence for deliberate self-interest.

Jacob Messina, CFA

Head of SI Research

Eleanor Willi

Sustainability Specialist

Capitalism coming of age: using the SDGs to bridge business strategy and social responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has evolved from an ad-hoc feature to a strategic imperative for corporations. A well-defined and aligned CSR program can help companies articulate an overarching purpose that motivates employees, inspires customers, gratifies shareholders and advances society. The UNs Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provides a useful framework to help companies target and align their CSR programs with the economic, social and environmental needs society and investors value most. Our analyses of corporate philanthropy and citizenship practices shows that companies already recognize the need to address SDGs and are using  their CSR programs to apply, advance and report efforts. However, stronger metrics are still needed, especially for companies and stakeholders to fully maximize impact.

Roland Hengerer, PhD

Senior SI Analyst

Putting commitment into practice in financial services

Through their ability to deploy capital to support sustainable initiatives that support short-mid- and long-term economic development, financial institutions are critical players in making the world more sustainable. In addition, they provide institutional and retail clients with access and education on sustainable financial products so they too can contribute to the causes they value while earning a financial return.
We spoke with BNP Paribas’ Laurence Pessez and BNP Paribas Fortis’ Guy Janssens to get a closer look at how one major bank and asset manager is using its global presence and local expertise to advance the cause of sustainability with customers in home markets in the Eurozone and within financial circles around the world.

Guy Janssens

Head of Sustainable and Responsible Investments
BNP Paribas Fortis

Laurence Pessez

Global Head of Corporate Social Responsibility
BNP Paribas Group

1 Information on UN Sustainability Goals is available at http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/development-agenda/ 

2017 Annual Corporate Sustainability Assessment

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