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Future of Sustainable Data Alliance Drives Capital Markets Contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goals

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Refinitiv has established the Future of Sustainable Data Alliance with the objective of accelerating the mobilisation of capital into sustainable finance. The alliance will address the question: What data do investors and governments need to meet the requirements of both regulators and customers for sustainable investments and products in pursuit of the 2030 Agenda. It states: “Fundamental ESG [environmental, social and governance] data access and additional alternative data sets are seen as key drivers to help investors make sustainable investment decisions and positively contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

Refinitiv is a founding member of the alliance, which also includes the World Economic Forum, United Nations, Climate Bonds Initiative, FinTech4good, Everledger, Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, Bank of Africa, and numerous other interested parties.

The alliance notes that while climate change and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) continue to accelerate the drive towards sustainable finance, information to quantify, measure and compare impact is in its infancy. Both public and private companies need disclosure standards on tracking, managing and reporting information to their stakeholders. The alliance states: “The lack of actionable data and standards results in capital markets that are unable to fully understand and integrate sustainability considerations, and as a result allocate capital to inefficient and sometimes environmentally or socially damaging activities, projects and assets. Fundamental ESG and alternative data are required to make sustainable investment decisions and to positively contribute to the UN SDGs. The Alliance aims to identify and consolidate the data required now and in the future.”

Mainstreaming climate and environmental data into capital markets in decision-useful form will require standardisation. The alliance will support this with a view to giving investors better quality and more widely available data on sustainability and performance, superior data analytics based on artificial intelligence and machine learning, and more informed judgements of strategic resilience.

David Craig, CEO at Refinitiv, says: “The need to channel capital towards the UN SDGs is urgent and the financing requirement immense. Today, many asset managers state that they don’t have enough data to help finance major transitions such as changes in demographics, climate change or addressing the shifts in global markets. It is critical to define and make ESG more of a science than an art.”

Matthew Blake, head of financial and monetary system initiatives and member of the executive committee at the World Economic Forum, concurs: “Access to data is central in the transformation to a low-carbon, sustainable economy. Only through access to fundamental ESG data can firms make informed sustainable investment decisions and comply with UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

The Alliance is expected to grow over the coming months to include different stakeholder groups with deep expertise in areas covered by the UN SDGs. Its creation was inspired by Refinitiv’s partnership with the UN Secretary General’s Task Force on Digital Financing of the SDGs and the Future of Finance report, which shows that the availability of reliable ESG data and SDG impact data is crucial for accelerating more SDG investments at scale.

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