It has been an astonishing year, one that none of us could ever have predicted and the remainder doesn’t look much more appealing with the festive season with our extended family and friends in jeopardy.
To lighten the mood, we wanted to find out from ESG investment professionals the achievements and lessons learned in 2020. We also asked how they will be making their festivities sustainable and their New Year’s resolutions to protect the planet and society.
In this article, we speak to Yuko Takano, manager of the BNY Mellon Sustainable Global Equity Fund at Newton Investment Management, who in this picture is volunteering by sewing PPE at the Royal Brompton Hospital during the pandemic. Sewing is Takano’s new sustainable hobby this year.
What are your biggest personal and professional achievements this year?
My biggest achievement this year is both professional and personal, and it’s the growth in demand we have seen for the sustainable strategy range at Newton. We have had a number of exciting new clients investing in both the Sustainable Global Equity and Sustainable US Equity funds that I manage and there are many opportunities we’re looking forward to in the New Year. Awareness for sustainable investment has really grown this year and I consider that to be a big achievement as an investment professional in this area.
In ESG, what has had the biggest impact this year?
This year was all about the “S” in ESG – both from a pandemic standpoint as well as from a wider societal standpoint. Diversity used to form more of the governance factors, where we used to speak about board diversity, but now it’s really moved towards diversity below board level and become part of the “S” in a company. It’s much more about diversity of thought and employee welfare in general, specifically how employees are treated.
What is a major positive change that your business has introduced permanently as a result of the pandemic?
The technology associated with flexible working. We transitioned into home working in the course of a week and I was quite impressed by that, especially the technology that has been required to make it as seamless as it has been.
How will you be having a sustainable festive period?
With Thanksgiving just gone by, we have already started our festive period at home. I don’t normally give many gifts during the holidays, preferring to donate to a favourite charity instead. My son has recently shifted from LEGO and plastic toys into computer games, which means any gifts for him this year will be more “virtual” and sustainable.
What is your go-to winter holiday routine and what’s your back-up plan for this year?
My family and I used to go back to Japan, where my parents live, but this year we’ll be staying here in London instead. I’m optimistic that a vaccine will eventually inoculate enough people so we’ll be traveling back to Japan next year.
What’s your sustainability New Year’s resolution?
One is to continue cooking sustainably using local and seasonal ingredients. But I’m also looking into purchasing a full electric vehicle next year. I currently have a plug-in hybrid and really appreciate the benefits of electric vehicles. The range has improved significantly so that’s not an issue anymore and it’s becoming a lot easier to find charging spots all over London.
What’s your big prediction for next year in the ESG space?
This space is only going to get bigger. We’re currently on the trajectory where it’s likely that within the next decade ESG will simply be sensible investing rather than a special type of investing. Sustainability benefits everyone – its better business practice and it means better disclosure from companies. It’ll continue to have a big impact on asset flows.
The “E” in ESG will also continue to be important because climate change is a pressing issue for everyone globally. People are starting to realise we need to think about the long term because climate change will impact all of us eventually.
See also: –