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This Week’s Tech and Tools News: UNEP FI Issues Oceans Toolkit for Investors

ESG Investor’s weekly round-up of news on technology and tools in the sustainable investing sector, including UNEP FI, ISS ESG, ISSB, Xpansiv and Carbon Trust.

The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) has launched a science-based toolkit to help banks, insurers and investors align their decision-making with supporting ocean health. “This guide aims to protect and restore the world’s ocean for the benefit of current and future generations by embedding sustainability into the financial activities of public and private financial institutions,” said Leticia Carvalho, Head of the Marine and Freshwater Branch at UNEP. The guidance focuses on addressing the issues surrounding solid waste pollution, including plastic, and coastal infrastructure projects, calling on financial institutions to challenge companies to adopt more sustainable practices and to avoid financial transitions with companies that have not implemented a sustainable transition plan. “This practical toolkit empowers financial institutions to understand how their activities can positively influence coastal development projects and solid waste management and adjust their approach to lending, investing and insuring companies in these sectors,” said Eric Usher, Head of UNEP FI. “Banks, insurers and investors have a major role to play in financing this transition to a sustainable blue economy, helping to rebuild ocean prosperity and restore biodiversity to the ocean. The Sustainable Blue Economy Initiative provides the principles and guidance to set them well on the journey to achieve SDG 14 – ‘life below water’.” The release coincides with backing from 175 nations for a resolution at the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi to end plastic pollution.

ISS ESG, the responsible investment arm of Institutional Shareholder Services, has launched ISS ESG Gateway, a free of charge online portal that will provide public access to high-level ISS ESG corporate ratings and scores as well as fund ratings. These include ESG Corporate Ratings and, where applicable, the ‘Prime’ Status of a rated company, Governance Quality Scores, SDG Impact Ratings, and ESG Fund Ratings. Ratings and scores on more than 6,100 corporations and for around 30,000 funds initially will be provided. The Gateway will be updated monthly to reflect any change in an entity’s rating or score. “The availability of top-level ISS ESG ratings and scores will enable capital market stakeholders and others to gain valuable insight into the array of sustainability and governance challenges and opportunities facing institutional investors and their portfolio companies alike,” said Dr. Maximilian Horster, Head of ISS ESG.

The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) is to establish an office in Frankfurt as part of its commitment to create multiple hubs to support its global user base. The Frankfurt office will provide the seat of the Board and the office of the ISSB chair. It will host board meetings and function as a hub for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Montreal will also host key functions of the ISSB and will act as a hub for the Americas region, enabling close cooperation with the San Francisco office, location of the headquarters of the Value Reporting Foundation, which will complete its integration with the ISSB in June 2022. “Creating a permanent presence in Frankfurt, and soon in Montreal, are important steps on the path to building our global multi-location model. These offices will serve key roles as the ISSB begins its ambitious programme of work,” said Emmanuel Faber, ISSB Chair. The ISSB was established last year by the Trustees of the IFRS Foundation to create a global baseline for harmonised sustainability disclosures.

ESG commodities marketplace Xpansiv is to acquire a 100% ownership stake in energy and environmental markets registry APX. Subject to regulatory approvals, Xpansiv will initially acquire 20% of the company and will acquire the remaining stake later in the year. The two companies have previously worked together, launching spot contracts for voluntary carbon and renewable energy credits. In 2019, Xpansiv acquired multi-registry environmental portfolio management system, EMA, from APX. Xpansiv Chief Strategy Officer Nathan Rockliff said the acquisition would strengthen the company’s existing market structure. Perella Weinberg Partners is acting as exclusive financial adviser to Xpansiv, and Venable is acting as its legal adviser. Goldman Sachs & Co is acting as exclusive financial adviser to APX, while DLA Piper is acting as its legal adviser.

Carbon Trust has launched Route to Net Zero Standard, a three tier certification system that will rank companies’ progress to net zero. To be offered on a digital platform, the standard will assess companies as either ‘taking action’, ‘advancing’ or ‘leading’. Carbon Trust says the platform will be further developed to support companies with carbon footprinting, target setting and value chain analysis. Companies will receive tailored support to increase their climate ambition over time, and guidance on how to align to science-based targets and best practices. The Carbon Trust will also help organisations communicate their progress to stakeholders through marketing communication resources. Tom Delay, Chief Executive at the Carbon Trust, said the standard is designed to “inspire and foster” immediate and long-term action on carbon emissions reduction. Ten companies, including Virgin Media O2, PwC, Sainsbury’s, Severn Trent Water and SGN have signed up to the standard.

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