GRESB Infra ‘becoming global standard’ as more funds submit to benchmarking

While ‘room for improvement’ remains in ESG asset reporting, there has been a notable increase in funds submitting themselves to the body’s assessments – up 17% on last year.

GRESB Infrastructure is on its way “towards becoming the global standard” for ESG assessments following a 17 percent growth in funds submitting themselves to the group’s benchmarking system.

The Amsterdam-based organisation has assessed infrastructure funds and their underlying assets on their ESG performance since its foundation in 2015, following GRESB’s work in the real-estate sector.

The latest figures now comprise 75 funds and 280 assets, up from 64 funds and 160 assets last year. Funds can only be graded by GRESB if they submit their assets, of which there was a 48 percent increase.

The funds are assessed across a range of 11 indicators, including in ESG disclosure and monitoring. They improved on last year’s scores in every area apart from developing policies on ESG issues, held by 82 percent of the funds. Some 97 percent of the funds now have a senior decision-maker accountable for ESG issues, although only 27 percent bring in a third party to review ESG disclosure. The latter figure is up from 22 percent last year.

AIMCo, APG, ATP, Aviva Investors, CalPERS, Mirova, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and PGGM were among the founding members of GRESB Infrastructure and the body noted that the earlier group invariably scored better than new participants, which are currently reporting less and bringing a halt to improved performance on most material ESG issues.

“It will be interesting to see how this progresses over time, and whether the new participants catch up to the early adopters,” GRESB said.

UBS’s Archmore International Infrastructure Fund I was recognised as a leader among global diversified funds, while Arcus Infrastructure Partners’ European Infrastructure Fund 1 was hailed as the best in class for region-specific funds.