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ESG Space Has Strengthened Under Pressure, Summit Lead Speaker Says

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The ESG space has emerged stronger from a bruising year of criticism, with financial institutions and companies alike taking a more considered approach to integrating sustainability considerations into their operations.

That is the message from the lead speaker at this year’s ESG Data and Tech Summit London, who also forecasts that vendors and users will see the way they handle data transformed in the next year by artificial intelligence (AI).

“ESG should never have been a special thing,” Nirav Shah, Senior Director of ESG and Quant Technology at JP Morgan Asset Management ****told ESG Insight ahead of the summit. “Being a special thing and the sudden urgency around it meant we made the sort of progress in four years that that we would normally have made in 10.

“Some of the hype around it is slowly dying, which is great and it is now becoming business as usual, which essentially means it’s just one of the things that investors look at,” Shah added. “That’s good for practitioners like ourselves, because the pressure’s reduced and also it’s being looked at in the right spirit.”

Fireside Chat

Shah’s views on the state of play within ESG will be the subject of the Practitioner Innovation Keynote Fireside Chat, which will kick off the May 16 summit in London’s Docklands district. He will be speaking with Priyank Patwa**,** director of financial services and ESG data analytics lead at Deloitte**.**

In what promises to be an engrossing conversation Shah will base his comments around the theme “Leveraging AI for ESG Insights”.

“To me, ESG is just like another financial risk factor; just like you would evaluate a company on its balance sheet and its ability to run a business, you would evaluate them to run a sustainable business in the sense that if there was a climate catastrophe would they be impacted or not?” he said.

High-Level Gathering

The third annual ESG Data and Tech Summit London will gather leading participants in the sector, including the financial institutions that are making sustainability-linked investment and risk management decisions.

Topics covered will include the evolving ESG regulatory landscape, the challenges in sourcing Scope 3 emissions information and the difficulties of managing enterprise ESG data. Keynote and panel addresses will also take a deep dive into subjects including AI and biodiversity.

On the development of AI in ESG, Shah plans to tackle the thorny matter of just how it can be best applied to managing data.

He argues that the core challenge to the ESG space remains the patchiness of the data record and that AI will go some way to alleviating the impact that has on institutions.

“AI has a lot to offer in this area in terms of the way it can overcome some of the problems inherent in the lack of data or lack of trustworthy data,” Shah said. “Not just that but it can also help in enhancing the productivity of our analysts to do research summarisation and going through large volumes of data and large papers, giving them succinct results that they can read through to form their views.”

While he conceded the technology is nowhere near able to fully automate those tasks for financial institutions, he said data providers have been busy putting in place the foundations for such development.

Year of Gains

Shah argued that despite the shortcomings still present in ESG data provisions, the situation has improved greatly over recent years with regulatory and investor demand resulting in the release of more and better data products and services.

“We hear a lot more about a new ESG data product than we would say four years ago,” he said. “So combination of regulations and companies’ increased willingness to disclose ESG data has meant that organisations like ourselves, which use data to make investment decisions, have a lot more to look at.”

  • A-Team Group’s ESG Data and Tech Summit London will be held at Hilton Canary Wharf on May 16. There is still time to register for attendance. Just click here.

Views are my own and should not be attributed to JP Morgan Asset Management.

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