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ESG in 2021: New year, new opportunities

From Covid relief funds to the COP26 climate summit, sustainability is expected to dominate the global agenda this year as never before.


For many environmental, social and governance (ESG) professionals, 2020 will be remembered as the year in which their industry finally went mainstream.

The outperformance of ESG assets during the Covid crisis vindicated proponents’ claims for the sector and encouraged record inflows into funds with sustainability characteristics.

The big question now is whether the momentum can be maintained in 2021. Euromoney asks experts across the industry to tell us their predictions for the year ahead.

Social success

Topping the list for many is the prediction that the recent rediscovery of ESG’s responsible investing roots, inspired by the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, would continue into the new year.

Meggin Thwing Eastman, head of ESG research EMEA at MSCI, says the surge in social bond issuance and an increasing focus by investors on alignment with the United Nations’ social development goals (SDGs) in 2020 is “just the beginning”.

“This year, we expect to see increasing innovation and creativity among investors looking to address social inequalities on a more systemic basis,” she says.

“Institutional investors in particular are starting to really understand that not only does it create ethical and moral problems in the world when you have these great inequalities, but it also poses systemic risks of social instability as well as leaving untapped economic and human potential in a lot of markets.”

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