This Week’s Tech and Tools News: New Investment-Ready Toolkit for Nature

ESG Investor’s weekly round-up of news on technology and tools in the sustainable investing sector, including the Green Finance Institute, FTSE Russell, Glass Lewis, GRESB, NatureMetrics and more.

The Green Finance Institute (GFI) has launched its Investment Readiness Project Toolkit, a new online platform that looks to accelerate the development of investment-ready nature-based projects in the UK. The toolkit sets out eight critical milestones to investment readiness – each with sets of considerations and case studies – to bridge the gap between project developers and investors or lenders, mobilising private finance into the restoration of nature and nature-based solutions. The toolkit breaks down pathways toward attracting private sector finance, guiding project developers – including farmers, estate owners, charities, local authorities and project aggregators – from initial scoping to the end-point of signing contracts with key stakeholders including investors or lenders. Dr Rhian-Mari Thomas, GFI’s CEO, said: “The Investment Readiness Toolkit for Nature provides a clear framework to support investment into nature restoration in the UK to deliver the environmental benefits we need to see. With three-quarters of UK FTSE All-Share firms ‘highly dependent’ on natural capital, catalysing private investment into nature to strengthen investment opportunities and scale nature markets is critical to the future and heath of our economy.” 

FTSE Russell, a global index, data, and analytics provider, and Chinese financial services group Ping An have launched the FTSE Ping An China ESG Index Series as a part of a new strategic partnership. The new series enables domestic and offshore investors to better integrate sophisticated sustainability considerations into their investment approach in China. Combining Ping An’s proprietary China ESG data and ratings into FTSE Russell’s leading China indices, the FTSE Ping An China ESG Index Series represents “a meaningful expansion” of the FTSE Russell China equity index offering. The index series has a China-specific ESG approach tailored to China’s development trajectory and its social and environmental circumstances. Using the Ping An CN-ESG framework covering 4,000 China A-shares for an overall rating, scores are translated into index weightings. In the case of the FTSE Ping An China A Free ESG Advanced 50 Index the top five companies are ranked by ESG Rating from 10 industries and weighted by market capitalisation.

Glass Lewis, the US -based global governance solutions provider, has acquired French proxy advisory firm Proxinvest. Proxinvest is the only French voting advisory agency, offering coverage of French and European companies to investors, with the acquisition marking a step forward in Glass Lewis’ geographic expansion. The acquisition will allow Glass Lewis to better serve both the European institutional and corporate markets, also offering Proxinvest clients access to additional Glass Lewis products and services such as Proxy Paper research reports, the Viewpoint voting platform, and the newly launched active ownership-focused SaaS Engagement Management Platform. Kevin Cameron, Glass Lewis’s Co-Founder, said: “[Proxinvest] are highly respected for their proxy research which we will continue to offer in the French language to meet the needs of the market. I am particularly excited to offer our ever-expanding suite of solutions to Proxinvest’s clients, including our newest SaaS solution, the Engagement Management Platform, which will help investors better manage their ESG initiatives.” 

Amsterdam-based ESG data provider GRESB has acquired asset-based climate data and analytics provider Asset Resolution. The acquisition expands GRESB’s asset-level data coverage across hard-to-abate sectors, strengthening its assessments and tools while providing GRESB members with more actionable insights and support with asset-driven analysis. Asset Resolution’s customers – which includes several large banks and consultancies – will benefit from the operational, technical and client support from GRESB. Business support provided by GRESB will also help enable the Asset Resolution team to further engage with external research groups and accelerate product development in support of its mission. As part of the acquisition, the Asset Resolution team will continue working from offices in Paris and Berlin to offer customers its existing suite of company- and asset-level indicators and analytics under the new name ‘Asset Impact’. Sebastien Roussotte, GRESB’s CEO, said: “We provide complementary services and share a common mission to equip financial institutions with the tools and insights needed to drive progress towards a more sustainable world. Combining our skill sets and teams means better data and more useful insights for our members and customers.” 

NatureMetrics, a global nature intelligence technology company, has launched a nature performance monitoring service. The new subscription service will provide continuous nature impact monitoring at scale, enabling standardised performance measurement of natural ecosystems. The company uses standardised and scaled eDNA technology, which captures tiny traces of all species, across the whole web of life, from bacteria to blue whales, to provide an accurate understanding of the state of nature within site-based assets. The new service will enable businesses to make critical decisions on their natural capital, including risk analysis and investment assessments and management and mitigation strategy. The technology powering the platform has been proven over six years of serving global customers including early adopters, such as WWF and Anglo American, enabling them to derive crucial insights to inform important decisions for their organisations. Katie Critchlow, NatureMetrics’ CEO, said: “By launching the world’s most accurate nature performance monitoring system, companies across the globe will have one simple-to-deploy tool, enabling them to understand, track and improve their natural capital. Through cutting edge environmental DNA technology, we’ve devised a way of turning complex nature data into simple and meaningful metrics to inform board room level decisions for business and nature” 

The Global Commons Alliance launched its Accountability Accelerator (GCAA) at COP15. The tool was established to ensure that companies are held accountable for their commitments towards halting and reversing nature loss by 2030. The GCAA looks to map the accountability landscape to understand and then close the gaps and potential loopholes that would allow companies to say one thing and do another on nature-positive action. Funding from the GCAA is helping train companies in disclosing their impacts and dependencies on nature, in conjunction with CDP. Natasha Matic, the Accountability Accelerator’s Executive Director, said: “We cannot wait for action to turn the corner on the devastation currently being wrought on nature. [This is] about making sure those commitments are science-based, that there’s necessary support towards achieving them, and helping the groups who want to put pressure on companies do so in an informed and productive way.” 

London-based ESG ratings agency EthicsGrade has unveiled its new machine learning prediction engine. The engine looks to “challenge greenwashing across all large companies worldwide” and has already rated over 300 companies relating to their governance of technology, in sectors spanning energy, pharmaceuticals, fast-moving consumer goods and transport. Scorecards have been sent out to companies including Adidas, Comcast, and Starbucks. By year end, EthicsGrade will have graded the full Russell 3000 Index. The engine predicts the ten best indicators of best practice digital governance in order to predict the overall Corporate Digital Responsibility rating of a company. Charles Radclyffe, EthicsGrade’s CEO and Co-Founder, said: “Investors, consumers, employees, and other stakeholders each see the world through their own lens and the prediction engine allows us to put multiple different lenses on the same company to provide an ESG rating specific to a stakeholder’s specific concerns.” 

The practical information hub for asset owners looking to invest successfully and sustainably for the long term. As best practice evolves, we will share the news, insights and data to guide asset owners on their individual journey to ESG integration.

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