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ESG investments surged in Asia-Pacific in 2020 as sustainable investing takes off, MSCI survey finds

ESG investments surged in Asia-Pacific in 2020 as sustainable investing takes off, MSCI survey finds

Sustainable investing is taking off in Asia-Pacific as institutional investors accelerated their environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments during the coronavirus pandemic last year.

ESG investing prioritizes a company’s positive contributions to its community, the environment, and social impact. Rating companies along ESG metrics allows socially conscious investors to screen potential investments to fit with their investment goals and values.

The global pandemic has raised the importance of ESG issues among investors highlighting how catastrophic events such as climate change would impact investment returns.

Around 79% of investors in Asia-Pacific increased ESG investments “significantly” or “moderately” in response to Covid-19, according to a recent MSCI 2021 Global Institutional Investor survey.

That is a slightly larger share than the 77% of investors globally who upped sustainable investments during the period. Overall, the figure rose to 90% for the largest institutions, or those with over $200 billion of assets, the survey found.

Meanwhile, 57% of Asia-Pacific investors expect to have “completely” or “to a large extent” incorporated ESG issues into their investment analysis and decision-making processes by the end of 2021.

“Once an issue for ‘green funds’ and side-pockets, ESG and climate are now firmly established as high priority issues,” Baer Pettit, MSCI president and chief operating officer, said in the report. “2020 marked a profound shift in the way institutions invest as many investors have recognized that many companies with strong environmental, social and governance practices outperformed during the pandemic.”

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