Rio+20: Change on the ground

By Palle Ellemann, Senior Consultant at GES

Brazilian people are generous people, giving a smile, always offering help. Even by the elevators you are offered the following advice: WARNING, before getting in, make sure the lift is in this floor!

In between the conferences in Rio, we are carrying out a lot of engagement meetings with Brazilian companies. Some of these companies have very specific engagement challenges that have been identified through our GES Global Ethical Standard® screening process of violations of international norms. Other companies we engage with because our GES Risk Rating has identified a significant gap between the ESG risks that a company faces and the ESG preparedness that it has built. This engagement is part of our Emerging Market Engagement product. The different drivers for engagement mean that we are meeting companies with very different ESG preparedness. Some are quite good in a variety of areas, but fail to provide an efficient disclosure or simply fail to cover all relevant material risks.

These past days we have met a fantastic responsiveness to our engagement and the willingness to invest time and resources in driving sustainability and ESG preparedness is very predominant among the Brazilian companies we meet. One clothing company told us the management and the board had discussed the issue of sustainability and had all agreed that this was an irreversible trend and they better step up to the challenge and explore the opportunities. Well, this is like candy for us and we had a great conversation, where we offered our input to how this company could put structure to a process that will help them make the right priorities and exploit the benefits from the sustainability work they were going to do.

It is a privilege to meet companies at this stage in their journey to build sustainability into the business and we see that we can influence them positively to the benefit of the companies, the environment and the society, and the investors.

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