ESG integration in private equity is required for the following reasons:
- Improved risk management and better performance: Investments in non-ESG funds are increasingly perceived as riskier. If we look at the current scenario, ESG indices (such as S&P BSE 100 ESG India Index and MSCI India ESG Leaders Index) and ESG funds have been outperforming most of the conventional peers. Indian companies are also assessing ESG risks and according to CDP 60 Indian companies have assessed ESG risks of US$ 98 million.
- Syncing with investors Interests: Investors are increasingly considering ESG factors before investing. Often investors are seen working with brands in value creation. An example will be the investment of Leading Global PE fund in one of the largest Chinese infant formula manufacturers, a year after the manufacturer faced the melamine milk scandal. This ESG focused approach of the PE, to create social value, enabled it to generate 2.3x returns on its five-year investment.
- Growing ESG urgency: ESG has been growing at a rapid pace and more than two third of the investors consider it instrumental while taking decisions
- Increased regulations: In 2020, EU recently released the EU Taxonomy for Sustainable Finance which was followed up with the UK Government mandating TCFD aligned disclosures. Recently, the Indian Government also joined the International Platform for Sustainable finance (ISPF) which promotes development of sustainable finance regulations to encourage private capital mobilization for environmentally sustainable investments.
Integration of ESG in enterprise risk management will improve the consistency and cohesiveness of sustainability-related risk management. This integration will help in decision making and resource allocation, minimize the financial impact and improve stakeholder confidence.
As ESG integration evolves, ESG factors play a vital role in creating long-term value creation. The prioritization of stakeholder and long-term value creation is achieved when the entire organization is aligned with ESG agenda. Further, it is also observed that an organization’s sustainability journey is a gradual and rewarding process.
Considering the same, EY has developed a three-layer framework known as Sustainable Design to assist organizations in managing risk and opportunities arising from climate change. This framework enables organizations to integrate ESG factors into their strategy, operations and value chain of the organization. It also enables organizations to develop robust governance mechanism, and risk management. Through this framework, organizations can gain both tangible and intangible benefits such as brand positioning, long-term value, market differentiation and operational efficiency.