What does sustainability mean to infrastructure investors?

Infrastructure Investor presents its illustrated A-Z of sustainability and ESG based on the suggestions of conference delegates at our 2019 Global Summit in Berlin.

At the 2019 Infrastructure Investor Global Summit in Berlin, we sought to answer the question of what sustainability means to infrastructure investors. To that end, we teamed up with Brighton-based illustrator Lee Playle to create an illustrated A-Z of sustainability and ESG based on the suggestions of conference delegates.

The challenge was as much a creative endeavour as a journalistic enterprise. Could our artist succeed in producing 26 illustrations by the end of two days at the conference? Would the resulting two-metre by three-metre illustrated wall, which became one of the talking points of the forum, adequately encapsulate the breadth of vision of ESG and sustainability?

The answer was a resounding yes. “What I really like about this is that it helps to demystify the concept of what ESG actually means in contemporary investing and particularly in an asset class like infrastructure,” said Adam Kirkman, head of ESG at AMP Capital. “ESG can be quite a complex concept, and therefore has a complex set of issues. But this list demonstrates how broad a concept ESG is, as it covers everything from gender diversity to environmental management.”

Investors are under pressure to meet global sustainability targets and, as a result, ESG is a priority when considering projects. Partners Group, KKR and Natixis have all incorporated ESG metrics into their manifestos and portfolios.

In 2019, Mirova launched a natural capital investment vehicle dedicated to land degradation and sustainable use of oceans. Witold Marais, investment manager at the firm, said: “My favourite letter is B for blue economy. I believe that protecting our environment is the prerequisite to making any kind of infrastructure investment relevant. If our environment collapses, then all the rest becomes useless.”

The A-Z was so popular that we decided to run it in its entirety in this special report. No one is claiming this is the definitive list – we could repeat the exercise all over again and get 26 entirely different suggestions – but then that is the compelling thing about ESG: it’s a mission that knows no bounds.

So whether it’s C for collaborate – and the opportunities created by working together – or R for renewables – and how to minimise the sector’s environmental impact, we hope you, like us, marvel at the breadth of vision on display here.

As the climate crisis continues to accelerate, ESG has never been more important, and the A-Z demonstrates just how far this concept extends.