By David Atkin, CEO, PRI
As a signatory-led organisation, engaging directly with investors is critical to informing the PRI’s strategy and programmes. It’s always a highlight of my role at the PRI to meet with our signatories around the world and to hear from them about their work.
Last week I met with signatories in Austria – a first for a PRI CEO – spending a fascinating three days in Vienna, the city of music and dreams, discussing the future of responsible investment, regulatory frameworks and pathways for investors to further develop their responsible investment approach, in line with their fiduciary duties.
Situated at the heart of Europe, Austria is home to 33 PRI signatories. Although a modest number against a backdrop of over 5,000 signatories globally, the market is notable for its high proportion of asset owner signatories at 13, alongside 16 investment managers and four service providers.
Given its geographical position, Austria’s investors are active throughout the region, particularly in Germany, Italy and Eastern Europe. The development of responsible investment in Austria has been typical of the broader European market, today seeing a growing group of Austrian signatories very active across both ESG incorporation and stewardship.
During my visit, I was delighted to have the opportunity to meet with Heinz Bednar (CEO), Gerold Permoser (CIO) and Walter Hatak (Head of Responsible Investment) of Erste Asset Management, and Dieter Aigner (Member of the Management Board and Chief Sustainable Investment Officer) and Wolfgang Pinner (Head of Sustainable Investment) of Raiffeisen Capital Management – two of the largest investment managers in the market, and both leading investors in the Climate Action 100+ initiative and active participants in our Advance initiative on human rights and social issues.
I was also pleased to be invited to address the Annual Investment Conference of LGT Capital Partners, which took place at the wonderful Gartenpalais Liechtenstein, alongside PRI Board member Tycho Sneyers.
In the week that we celebrated the 17th anniversary of the founding of the PRI, we discussed some of the incredible growth we have seen in the responsible investment space over that period – with PRI signatories now representing more than half the world’s institutional capital, and ambitious work underway on a whole range of sustainability issues. Of course, we are also facing some evolving challenges, from the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss to how politicised pushback against responsible investing in the US can impact responsible investors everywhere.
We have come a long way, but there is a great deal still to be done.
Returning to London, I am focused on delivering the PRI’s response to our recent signatory consultation, PRI in a Changing World, and beginning to shape our 2024-27 strategy – as ever, conscious of the importance of working with signatories in a way that is relevant in their local or regional context.
I’m looking forward to meeting with more signatories in Paris, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur throughout the course of May.
The PRI blog aims to contribute to the debate around topical responsible investment issues. It is written by PRI staff members and occasionally guest contributors. Blog authors write in their individual capacity – posts do not necessarily represent a PRI view.