PRESS COVERAGE
  • HONG KONG - The COVID-19 pandemic has raised the awareness of impact investing globally, and a more-standardized, measurable practice of impact investing will help reshape the post-pandemic investment world, an expert said on Monday at a China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable webinar. Standards are very important to help define and bring discipline to markets, said Diane Damskey, head of the Secretariat, Operating Principles for Impact Management, during the panel discussion themed “Impact Investing and ESG in Post-COVID Economic Recovery”. The Operating Principles for Impact Management was created in 2019 to provide a standard for investors to ensure they incorporate impact throughout the life of an investment. The principles were intended to be “a framework for investors for the design and implementation of their impact management systems,” its website said. Damskey said she is frequently asked about the difference between impact investing and sustainable investing. Impact investing is a subset of sustainable investing, and impact is a subset of environmental, social and corporate governance alignment, she said. ESG is the foundation and impact is a level of rigor above that, because it requires intentionality — you must target an intentional impact at the outset of an investment contribution. You must be able to articulate why your capital makes a difference to the impact achieved. And finally, you must be able to measure the impact, Damskey said. She pointed out that impact investing is critical to post-COVID-19 recovery as impact investors are “patient capital” — capital dedicated to meet long-term goals to achieve a positive, social or environmental impact alongside financial returns. “Impact is sticky capital. It’s not looking for short-term gains. It’s willing to stay with an invested company through challenging times. And I think it’s safe to say that we’re in one of these very challenging times.” Independent verification For long-standing impact, investors have historically targeted the sectors and regions that have been most affected by the pandemic. They have stuck to their commitments over the past one and a half years and are dedicating more capital when they can, she added. But Damskey said that people cannot just say they’re an impact investor. This principle requirement means that impact investment needs to be verified by an independent party. Signatories consistently say that the impact principles have helped them manage through the pandemic. The discipline required in preparing the disclosure statement helps them clarify and better articulate their impact management systems and processes. Many of them are long-standing impact investors, she said. In the past year, their investment teams are better supported and better able to address the challenges they faced, Damskey explained, adding that there’s also an effort to bring some standardization to impact assessment and reporting. “We expect to see greater regulation around sustainable investing. We want to ensure that our working impact is an alliance of what is occurring in the other areas. So it’s an extremely exciting time to be an impact of that thing and be able to help shape the future of this market.”
    2021-06-08
  • HONG KONG - As the coronavirus pandemic reinforces the need to address social and environmental challenges, the trend of impact investing has gained ground worldwide, offering potentially huge opportunities for those with the foresight to jump on the bandwagon. Experts also told the China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable in Hong Kong on Monday that although major developed economies are leading the charge into socially responsible and purpose-driven finance, the global investment community is betting big that emerging markets like China and the entire Asian continent have their fingers on the pulse of the big trend. Themed “Impact Investing and ESG in Post-COVID Economic Recovery”, the webinar was co-organized by Hong Kong-based AvantFaire Investment Management. Hester Marie DeCasper, regional head of operations of East Asia and Pacific, and Hong Kong-based head of office at International Finance Corporation, said she believes that “the unprecedented public-health crisis has really reinforced and accelerated trends in the market that were already there”. Emerging potential Impact investing is built on the notion that market-rate financial returns and positive social and environmental impacts can and should coexist. At its core, the practice is an emerging field of asset management in which environmental and social outcomes are valued as highly as financial returns. The size of global impact investments increased by about 40 percent from 2019 to 2020, and was estimated at $715 billion in April last year, according to the Global Impact Investing Network. Citing the projection from the IFC, DeCasper said that investors’ appetite for impact investing could total as much as $26 trillion, the equivalent of approximately 10 percent of the financial assets held by institutions and households worldwide. On a global level, there has been a significant transition to embedding environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria into everyday investment decisions. But in Asia, “the overall size of impact investing remains fairly modest, partially due to some unique challenges there,” DeCasper said. To bridge the gap, DeCasper said, participants of the ecosystem have to take action on different levels. At a basic level, there is a pressing need for ongoing education, she said. For sustainable investment-hungry markets like China and Asia, the potential is always there, she added. Thomas Kwan, chief investment officer of Harvest Global Investments Ltd, said China’s decarbonization drive will bring ample investment opportunities, pushing ESG development to a higher level. ESG funds have grown significantly in the country in the past few years, along with the global market, he said. “Renewable energy, electrification, environmental protection, … all these aspects present opportunities,” he said. “But what’s more important is that we should look for companies whose business models could help address environmental and social issues because investors and regulations are now demanding it.” Companies with high ESG scores not only mean they are doing well in such specific aspects, it is also an indication of high-quality management with a long-term view of their businesses, he said. China has announced the goal to maximize its carbon emissions by 2030 before achieving carbon neutrality by 2060. Kwan believes the country’s push for green development will benefit market players in the entire industrial chain. “If you look at the renewable energy space, not many investors have realized that China is already leading in this space. If you look at the global wind and solar energy installations, China is indeed way ahead of the rest of the world. That means many of the upstream players will benefit from global demand for their products,” he said. On the downstream side, meanwhile, China’s sales of electric vehicles accounted for 44 percent of the world’s total, Kwan said. “From upstream all the way to downstream, there will be tremendous growth for Chinese companies in the years ahead,” he said. However, Kwan added, multiple challenges still exist in ESG investment in China. Difficulties in collecting and processing ESG data is one of the major challenges, as different countries have different disclosure requirements. The ESG disclosure ratio among Chinese listed companies has been relatively low, Kwan said. Only 26 percent of A-share companies issued corporate social responsibility reports in 2019. Differences in methodology are another obstacle. Many investors rely on data from global providers, the methodology of which may not be applicable to the Chinese market, and methodology among domestic data providers also varies, he said. In addition to the data challenge, which Kwan called “a hard issue”, he also pointed out the problem on the soft side — limited awareness of ESG and the lack of an ESG investment culture. Fundamental change Andrew Weir, the regional senior partner at KPMG Hong Kong and vice-chairman of KPMG China, advocated that all investors seriously consider the sustainable investment world or be left behind. “Sustainable investment now is fundamental and mainstream as opposed to being a niche before,” he said, adding that 25 percent of global assets under management now are such investments. He predicted the proportion will surge to 50 percent within three years and 100 percent within 10 years or certainly within a lifetime. “Our children will be asking us how we ever had a world where investment wasn’t seen from a sustainability lens,” he said. He reiterated the fundamental change is that sustainability is moved from nice-to-have into core mainstream, from “If we want to do it” to “We all have to do it”. Weir also found the trend has started to show economic benefits. He found companies’ commitment to ESG and sustainability has a strong positive influence on their share prices. After seeing how impact investing is intertwined with their share scores or ratings, some of his clients, who expressed interest only two years ago, finally made up their minds to follow through. “It’s a real wake-up call,” he said. As to challenges, the first he mentioned is measuring all-around societal values. He raised a series of questions for organizations: How do you measure the cumulative effect of the good things you’ve done for 50 years? How do you measure the platforms you helped to sponsor? Even more important is: How do you guide companies to voluntarily disclose when they haven’t got things right, such as when their impact investment practices fail to meet their goals or some of their core businesses are having a negative social impact? He believes these are the ultimate test for governments. Another challenge is forming a new definition of “profit”, which is more of a social well-being type of figure, according to the executive. He stressed the new definition should include a financial profit plus a social dividend to get the all-around contribution of an organization. In summary, he believes the opportunities for impact investing are huge, and Hong Kong, in particular, is a center of excellence. To people who don’t think it’s been happening in Asia, he said that many large family groups have been doing this, but they possibly don’t describe it as sustainable investment and impact investment.
    2021-06-08
  • 2021年6月7日,題為「後疫情時代: 創效投資與ESG發展和助力經濟復蘇」的專題研討會今日在線舉行,超過150位商界精英、投資項目擁有人、投資者及金融界人士注冊在線參會。 研討會由中國日報亞洲圓桌論壇與先行投資管理有限公司合辦,邀請影響力投資管理原則秘書處負責人黛安•達姆斯基作主旨演講,先行投資管理有限公司創始人兼首席執行官陳欽若以及中國日報亞太分社多媒體總監大衛•克拉克主持,國際金融公司東亞及太平洋地區運營負責人及香港特別行政區辦公室負責人柯海莉、嘉實國際資產管理有限公司投資總監關子宏,以及畢馬威會計師事務所香港首席合伙人兼畢馬威中國副主席韋安祖任討論嘉賓,共同就議題分析、探討創效投資最新的發展趨勢、平衡量SDG目標與投資影響的一致性,以及ESG如何為投資者帶來正面的經濟收益。

 根據2020年全球創效投資的相關報告顯示,創效投資市場在管資產規模達7,151億美元,按年增長42.2%。在新冠疫情及氣候危機下,投資者大幅度提高對創效投資及倫理基金產品的需求,因此,可預見創效投資市場將持續擴大,助力后疫情時代的經濟復蘇。 黛安•達姆斯基指出,疫情突顯了對縮小全球教育、基本就業和醫療保健不平等的巨大需求,更突顯了對資本的需求。疫情以來,投資者在應對全球性挑戰危機方面做出了巨大努力,為資本流動作出了更大貢獻。

 柯海莉認為,在新冠肺炎疫情期間,創效投資擴大了42%,疫情加強並加速了這一趨勢。越來越多的公司認識到應對社會和環境問題的必要性。在亞洲,創效投資的市場整體規模仍然比較小。為了彌補這一差距,亞洲的企業應該更積極地在教育等領域進行投資。

 陳欽若表示,目前有很多進行中的倡議,但這些倡議需要與不斷發展的綠色標准保持更好的一致性,當前的挑戰在於如何將現有的標准與綠色產業和相關倡議相結合。香港在政策方面並不落後,現在是時候讓企業加入進來,進行投資並促進綠色產業的發展。

 關子宏說:「我們尋找的公司應該具備解決環境和社會問題的商業模式,因為現在很多法規在要求這樣做。更具體來說,我認為在主題投資上,很少投資者意識到,中國人是可再生能源領域的領導者。」

 韋安祖認為,可持續發展最根本的變化是從小眾走向核心主流,這一轉變的推動力來自第26屆聯合國氣候變化大會(COP26)倡議對經濟的影響,以及對碳中和的承諾。其實許多來自中國和其他市場的國有企業已經有所行動,儘管可能沒有被標明或描述成可持續投資和創效投資,但這也提供了一個很好的基礎。

 創效投資是利用資本來極大化社會的混合價值和多方面的社會效益,以持續發展的商業模式。 

ESG(Environmental, Social, Governance)代表「環境、社會、企業管治」。聯合國全球契約計劃於 2004年首次提出了ESG這個名詞和概念,以便為分析師和投資者提供一套符合於聯合國「責任投資六項原則」的標准。

 無論是ESG,還是創效投資,都是投資人抱有的良好願景。嘉賓們一致表示希望拉近金融與環境和社會的距離,在獲得具吸引力的回報同時,也達到某些環境和社會目的。 有關中國日報 中國日報是中國國家英文日報,全媒體用戶總數超過3.5億,是我國唯一下載量過千萬的英文新聞客戶端,目前全球下載用戶超過3,500萬;微博粉絲數超過5,900萬;微信訂閱人數達1,100萬;臉譜賬號粉絲數超過1億,位居全球媒體賬號粉絲數第二位;推特賬號粉絲數約435萬。

 有關中國日報亞洲領袖圓桌論壇 中國日報亞洲領袖圓桌論壇(www.cdroundtable.com),創建於2010年,旨在搭建一個由亞洲國家和地區的政、商、學界領袖和社會精英參與的高端對話和交流平台,圍繞亞洲地區經濟、商業、產業和社會發展等具有戰略影響的重要議題展開討論和分享見解,以增進中國與亞洲國家和西方國家的交流和理解。迄今,在港澳和亞太多個國家和地區舉辦超過90屆,逾5萬名決策精英參加。
    2021-06-07
  • HONG KONG, June 7, 2021 — A webinar, themed “Impact Investing and ESG in Post-COVID Economic Recovery”, co-organized by China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable and AvantFaire, was held on June 7. It drew about 150 participants, including business leaders, investment project owners, private equity firms and investors. According to the latest annual report of the Global Impact Investing Network, the impact investment market reached US$715 billion in assets under management in 2020 -- a 42.2 percent year-on-year increase. Despite the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, a significantly high number of investors have chosen to invest their money in impact investing products and ethical funds. Therefore, the impact investing market is expected to continue to grow and play an important role in post-pandemic economic recovery. What are the latest trends in impact investment? How do investors measure the impacts and alignments to specific sustainable development goals? Why does environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) integration matter to a positive investment outcome? Ms. Diane Damskey, Head of Secretariat, Operating Principles for Impact Management, delivered the keynote address. Moderated by Ms. Catherine Chen, Founder and CEO of AvantFaire Investment Management Ltd, and Dr. DJ Clark, multimedia director, China Daily Asia Pacific, the panel invited Ms. Hester Marie DeCasper, IFC regional head of operations, East Asia and Pacific and head of office in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region; Mr. Thomas Kwan, chief investment officer, Harvest Global Investments Limited; and Mr. Andrew Weir, regional senior partner, KPMG Hong Kong, and vice-chairman, KPMG China, to share their insights on the topic. Diane Damskey said the pandemic has highlighted the great global needs to bridge the gap in inequality in education, jobs’ basic benefits and healthcare, where more capital is increasingly needed. In times of stress, she said investors have made greater efforts in addressing the global challenges by not only showing their interest, but also contributing to capital flow since the pandemic. Hester Marie DeCasper noted that impact investment has expanded by 42 percent during the pandemic which has reinforced and accelerated the trend. More companies have found it necessary to meet the social and environmental challenges. “In Asia, the overall size of the impact investment market is still very modest. To bridge the gap, companies in Asia should make more proactive investments in areas like education,” she said. “We should look for companies with a business model that helps address environmental and social issues as regulations now demand it. More specifically, I think, with thematic investments, if we look at the renewable energy side, not many investors realize that the Chinese are leading on this front,” said Thomas Kwan. Andrew Weir pointed out the fundamental change that sustainability has moved from a nice niche into the core mainstream, and a massive engine for this will be the COP26 (the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties) initiative, the impact on the economies of those commitments, and a carbon neutral commitment. “To be quite honest, many of the state-owned enterprises coming out of China and other markets have already been doing it, but may not possibly have badged it or described it as sustainable investment and impact investment, but that gives a very strong foundation on which to build,” he said. Catherine Chen said there are quite a lot initiatives going on, but they need to be better aligned with the green standards that keep evolving. The challenge is how to integrate the existing standards with the green industry and the initiatives. Hong Kong is not lagging behind in policies, but it’s time to get the private sector to invest and promote the green industry, she said. About China Daily Founded in 1981, China Daily covers over 350 million readers and users worldwide through diversified platforms, including newspapers, websites, and mobiles and social media. The number of China Daily’s followers has now reached more than 59 million on Weibo, 11 million on the WeChat microblog platform, 100 million on Facebook, and another 4.35 million on Twitter. About the China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable The China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable is a by-invitation network of movers and shakers in Asia, providing platforms for focused dialogue, issue investigation and possible collective action on strategic issues relating to Asia’s economic, business and social development. Our aim is to enhance communication and increase mutual understanding between China, Asian and Western countries. Roundtable events are held in major cities across Asia.
    2021-06-07
  • With the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area gearing itself up as a mecca for arts and culture, the vibrant region, with an open mind, creative thinking, great respect for traditional cultures and an in-depth understanding of its history, is at the forefront of the culture-led, innovation-driven urban renaissance. The views were espoused by experts at the China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable in Hong Kong on Tuesday. The event was held as part of the two-day Greater Bay Area Cultural Heritage and Creative Innovation Conference, themed “Establishing the Cultural and Creative Nexus for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area”. A 20-page development road map through 2035 unveiled by China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism in December last year bolstered the nation’s vision of catapulting the Greater Bay Area into an arts and culture destination. Han Wangxi, director of the Shenzhen Innovative and Creative Design Development Office, emphasized the significance of showing great respect for traditional Chinese cultures, based on the undertakings and goals of building shared cultural values. The Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, along with nine Guangdong cities in the Greater Bay Area cluster, should be further connected through minds and souls, taking advantage of their cultural and linguistic similarities, he said. Equal importance should be attached to the concept that “culture is mobile”. “The mobility of culture is the innovation of culture. As we’re on the cusp of great cultural change, Shenzhen is exactly an innovation-driven city. At the heart of Shenzhen’s culture making is the spirit of innovation,” Han said. He also highlighted the increased collaboration between Shenzhen and Hong Kong in the Greater Bay Area in creating an inclusive and diversified regional culture. “It used to be said that the Greater Bay Area has no history. But I’ve discovered from the Nantou City project that such an impression is wrong. It’s just that we had not paid adequate attention to this aspect before,” Freeman Lau Siu-hong, secretary-general of the Hong Kong Federation of Design Associations, told the conference. Nantou City, located in downtown Shenzhen, has a history of more than 1,700 years and is believed to be the origin of the southern Guangdong metropolis. However, it had been neglected in the past, with so many historical landmarks and fortifications there standing in the midst of residential buildings housing migrant workers. In fact, many Hong Kong people also hail from this location, Lau said. The Shenzhen government started a project to renovate Nantou in 2019, and Lau was invited to participate. After an in-depth study of Nantou’s history and culture, he found the place full of development potential for cross-border design and creative cooperation. Nantou City is now home to an array of renowned traditional Cantonese cuisine brands, exhibition and art studios, fashion shops and bookstores from both Guangdong province and Hong Kong. Many Hong Kong designers, Lau said, have opened studios in Nantou after learning about its history and environment. Shared history and cultural heritage have formed a solid bond for the joint development of cross-border cultural and creative industries, he said. Like Nantou City, may other places in the Greater Bay Area are waiting to be explored, including Chung Ying Street, which is wedged between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, Lau said. Hong Kong-born Frankie Lui, founder of Atelier Global, has spent his whole working life in the Greater Bay Area carving out a path for his career as an architect. “Architecture is a special form of medium. It’s a kind of culture in itself and the carrier of culture at one and the same time,” he said. Citing two of his projects — Shenzhen Longhua Book City and the Master’s Art Museum located between Shenzhen and Dongguan — as vivid examples, Lui demonstrated how traditional cultural and human elements can be weaved into modern architecture. Xing Lili, founder of gambiered Guangdong silk brand Jancho, shared her experience in applying traditional crafts in modern times. Gambiered Guangdong silk is a national intangible cultural heritage, using handmade, natural materials and complex techniques, but it’s gradually fading away from the global fashion stage. “We’ve tried to preserve Chinese culture and weave in contemporary elements,” she said. Within five years, the brand has become a leading couture label that has won a string of awards, including the Shenzhen Global Design Award. Patrick Mok Kin-wai, an assistant professor in the Department of Art and Design at the Hang Seng University of Hong Kong, said kung fu is also a significant element of Cantonese culture, citing how martial arts has integrated with Chinese dance to create a modern performance. “We also make use of virtual reality to capture the fast motions in a show named Converge,” said Mok, adding that the Greater Bay Area should encourage diversified development of multiple domains, like the special market of dancing performance. Over the decades, the Pearl River Delta has seen the most rapid urban expansion in human history — a predominantly agricultural region being transformed into the world’s “largest continuous city”. As the Greater Bay Area is seen as one of the country’s most notable urbanization initiatives, Chin-Ee Ong, associate professor at the School of Tourism Management of Sun Yat-sen University, said it’s important to strike a balance between development, innovation and cultural preservation. Contact the writers at sophia@chinadailyhk.com
    2021-06-02
  • Hong Kong was once one of the largest export economies for cultural products, but its impact on the cultural and creative industry is much lower now, and it needs to reflect on how to reshape its cultural soft power, said Simon Ho Shun-man, president of the Hang Seng University of Hong Kong. He stressed that Hong Kong desperately needs more art and cultural development because the industry is one of the fastest developing sectors with much potential for an economic and social impact. The industry is a key force to drive social cohesion while also being an important way to drive the diversification of the city’s economic structure, Ho said. In addition, the professor said, the cultural and creative industry can play a pivotal role in the development of economic strength because it can be less labor and capital intensive, and the startup costs in the domain are affordable to many young people. In the 1980s, Hong Kong established a strong popular cultural industry, but now it needs a reboot, Ho said, suggesting that the Hong Kong authorities identify culture as a core factor to be considered by all policy bureaus, a principle which can help raise the metropolis’s cultural soft power again and reshape the image of Hong Kong as an international cultural art center. Considering similar languages, cultures, folk customs and geographical proximity, he is advocating for Hong Kong to jointly explore the cultural heritage and creative resources with other cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. In the national 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) outline, it was proposed for the first time to support the development of Hong Kong into a communication and exchange center of Chinese and international culture and art. In the blueprint for the development of the Greater Bay Area, the central government also encourages fully leveraging the strengths and expertise of Hong Kong talent in the film and television industries, and supports Hong Kong in its development into an exposition hub for television and film. The area shares a huge amount of material and non-material cultural heritage, such as Lingnan culture on Cantonese operas, kung fu, lion dancing, paintings, TV series, and films. Lingnan culture is a significant component of Cantonese culture, most notably in food, art and architecture, and Cantonese opera. However, Ho found there have been few cross-border collaborations in the sector, joint developments of creative and cultural content and associated intellectual properties, while current collaborations mainly rely on business entities. He said, “We need to build up a strong overarching executive body to coordinate the cultural and creative resources of the three regions.” As Hong Kong’s cultural and creative industry faces challenges such as high rents, a shortage of venues, and relatively small markets, he suggested launching cross-border incentive policies on purchasing, taxation and land resources and establishing a common platform for cultural intellectual properties in the Greater Bay Area. Ho said that the Hang Seng University of Hong Kong has been cooperating with many partner institutions in Guangdong province, including student exchanges and other joint projects, and added that the university established the Greater Bay Area Innovation Centre in 2019 to promote and assist cross-border innovations and business startups in the Greater Bay Area. grace@chinadailyhk.com
    2021-06-02
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