We believe that investors and other organisations in the investment system must:

  • Act with due care, skill and diligence, in line with professional norms and standards of behaviour.
  • Act in good faith in the interests of their beneficiaries and clients, including avoiding conflicts of interest, or where such conflicts are unavoidable, to balance and disclose such conflicts.
  • Take account of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, in their investment processes and decision-making, encourage high standards of ESG performance in the companies or other entities in which they are invested, and support the stability and resilience of the financial system.

Many of these obligations and duties are already expressed in various ways under the law in different jurisdictions. However, we recognise that there are gaps and variations in both the specific obligations and duties that are placed on investors, and in the manner in which these are interpreted and implemented in each jurisdiction. We specifically note a lack of explicit mechanisms for investors to take account of ESG issues in their investment processes, in their dialogue with companies, and in their engagement with policymakers. 

While many investors meet and frequently exceed these obligations and duties, we believe that effective policy can both clarify these obligations and duties and enhance the effectiveness of existing practices. This is particularly the case in relation to the adequate consideration of ESG issues in long and short-term investment decision-making.

We therefore:

  • Call on international and supranational policymakers to clarify investors’ obligations and duties, in particular, in relation to the integration of ESG issues into investment practice.
  • Call on national policymakers to ensure that their national policies align with this clarification of investors’ obligations and duties and to ensure that these policies are effectively implemented.

Produced in collaboration with UNEP FI and Generation Foundation

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Global statement on investor obligations and duties