[ARCHIVE] Paul Abberley, Interim CEO Aviva Investors – shares his views on our call for corporate sustainability reporting following the Rio+20 summit.
Transcript Paul Abberley, Interim CEO Aviva Investors – shares his views on our call for corporate sustainability reporting following the Rio+20 summit 27 June 2012 The world’s governments meet every 10 years to talk about sustainable developments, and try to move that particular agenda forward. The latest meeting was in Rio. So why were Aviva there? Well, some 18 months ago, we began to convene a coalition of investors, industry-groups and NGOs, with a common purpose to try to get the Rio summit to move forward our goal of having companies report on the sustainability of their business strategies. Why does that matter to Aviva? Well, for most of our customers, their savings are quite long-term, and they want the way that their money’s invested to reflect that – but of course, if our portfolio managers are going to invest for the long-term, they need to understand the long-term strategies of those companies, and it’s only if the companies report those sustainable strategies that we’re able to evaluate them, and make the correct investment decisions with our customers’ money. And hence, we’ve been working for a number of years to try to encourage corporate reporting, but we felt that the pace of improvement was too slow, I mean, yes, companies are doing more in this space, but we need to up the pace of improvement, and we felt this summit was the perfect opportunity to begin to put some real energy. So what was the outcome, how did we get on? Well, we built a lot of momentum over the 18 months, and I’m delighted that in the later stages we also got support from the governments – many governments around the world, including the UK, and indeed, when I attended the summit in Rio, it was as a member of the UK delegation, so we had a lot of support to try to mandate the reporting of companies’ long-term strategies, and their sustainability. Of course, not everyone agrees on this particular agenda, there are arguments in both directions, and the political discussions in Rio themselves were, you know, quite heated at times, and that’s why it was important that we were there in person, to be able to provide input and evidence. The outcome, I’m pleased to say, is that the text issued by the world’s governments did indeed include a strong reference to embedding the sustainable reporting of strategies in companies reporting. It wasn’t legally binding – I mean, that was always going to be a very ambitious goal – but nevertheless, it was
there, and we’re very pleased with the outcome that, collectively, the variousbodies that have been part of this endeavour have achieved.So what happens next? Well, there’s a number of routes we could take at thispoint in time. The summit itself discussed sustainable development goals, and itmay well be that corporate reporting gets folded into that exercise – alternatively,there may be a regional focus, we were really pleased with the amount of energyand enthusiasm among the member-states of the European Union, and indeedthe EU itself, in terms of moving this forward. So it might well be that in comingmonths, we try to make some real progress in Europe, and that may well providean example and a template of how this can work for bodies more generally.But we’ll be operating on many fronts. Whichever the future direction is, Aviva’scertainly ready to participate and add our weight to the exercise where we can beof help.END