In the 18 years since the PRI’s founding, the landscape for responsible investors changed dramatically. The objective of the PRI in a Changing World signatory consultation was to understand signatory views on the changing expectations of responsible investors, and how the PRI might adapt to better support our signatories.
Nearly 2,000 signatories participated in the consultation, with a series of 38 in-person workshops across 30 cities, and one online workshop, reaching more than 750 signatories, followed by a survey that saw 1,487 signatories (27%) respond.
It explored key issues for the future of responsible investment and signatories, including the PRI’s mission, governance and the value we provide to signatories. Clear messages emerged regarding the need to measure progress in ways that acknowledge our diverse signatory base, design a more agile strategy-setting process and further assess and seek input on our mission statement and governance.
The survey shows that the PRI remains a big tent, whose signatories’ interpretations of responsible investment vary based on their mandates, geography and other factors.
Most respondents (63%) see responsible investment as including a combination of managing ESG risks and identifying and acting on sustainability outcomes in the future, vs 41% today. Never have so many signatories expressed such an expansive view of their role as responsible investors, demonstrating that a more evolved dialogue is needed about how the investment community contributes to sustainable outcomes, in way that is aligned with fiduciary duties. Importantly, 30% of respondents continue to see managing of ESG risks as the sole dimension of responsible investment.
Other findings include that:
- nearly all signatories expect to progress their responsible investment activities over time as a part of their PRI journey, but in a voluntary, not prescriptive, manner that is relevant to their organisation;
- signatories are broadly supportive of the PRI’s role on policy engagement, with half agreeing that the PRI should take a more active role in policy engagement, particularly with respect to improved access to data;
- there is strong support for the PRI maintaining its global approach and developing local communities of practice, bringing the PRI closer to signatories generally;
- signatories would like more input into the PRI strategy and priorities through regional forums and signatory groupings;
- signatories believe the PRI provides value, that they would recommend being a signatory to peer organisations and that they remain committed to being a signatory.
The findings from the consultation have fed into our work on a new operating model, to better align how we operate with the ways signatories tell us we can provide most value.
More than three-quarters were in favour of PRI-supported communities of practice within regions, and respondents indicated that the PRI and its signatories can create the right enabling environment for responsible investment through engagement with policy, regulation and standard setting – which must inevitably be tailored to each market. This will be delivered through a new focus on Responsible Investment Ecosystems.
Guidance, tools and training are seen as some of the most important PRI offerings, with more than three-fifths of signatories wanting more of these services. We will professionalise these offerings and better tailor them to different signatory needs through our new Responsible Investment Solutions function.
A closer look at the survey results reveals that while guidance, tools and training are particularly prized by more recent joiners, longer tenured signatories look to the PRI for support on engagement and influencing norms. Our Investor Initiatives and Collaboration practice will combine and strengthen our opportunities for investors to influence collectively.
More than four of every five respondents want to demonstrate progress, but in a way that is more relevant to their responsible investment approach than is currently possible. More than three-quarters agreed that the PRI should establish a signatory-guided design process for a framework to show progression on responsible investment, with more than two-thirds wanting to actively participate in the process. Developing progression pathways will be a key part of our Sustainable Systems work.