“Our signatories continue to tell us that being able to access comparable and meaningful sustainability data is a roadblock to progress when it comes to responsible investment,” said Fiona Reynolds, CEO of PRI.“Working with WBCSD will enable PRI to enhance several channels over which investors have influence – capital allocation and investors’ engagement with companies.“By collaborating we can further develop the tools and data needed for future decision-making and create the incentives and collective action at a scale that can significantly influence the capital costs of companies.”Peter Bakker, president and CEO of WBCSD, said the two organisations were working to “redesign corporate and investor engagement”.“We see this work as integral for aligning the financial system with the transformations needed to address the major social and environmental issues – like climate change and inequality,” he added.The PRI now has more than 3,000 signatories who collectively represent over $100trn (€83trn) in assets under management. The WBCSD has 200 member companies with a combined revenue of more than $8.5trn and 19 million employees across 70 countries.Big increase in number of ESG belief settersThe number of European pension schemes that have explicitly created and formalised ESG beliefs has increased significantly, according to a survey carried out by Mercer.Last year 19% of pension plans had done so, compared with 55% this year.Another large ESG-related change picked up by Mercer’s survey is in the share of European pension funds’ awareness of, and desire for, action on climate change-related investment risk.Last year 54% of those surveyed now actively considered the impact of such risks in their investment allocations, compared with 14% in 2019. Also, in 2020 89% of surveyed plans said they would consider ESG risks in 2020, compared with 55% in 2019.Regulation continues to drive pension funds’ consideration of ESG risks, cited by 85% of those surveyed as a key driver. However, there was a large jump in those considering ESG risks due to recognised financial materiality – 51% versus 29% last year – and according to Mercer there was also a large number of pension plans increasing their focus on ESG risks because sponsor companies were seeking alignment with new or existing corporate responsibility strategies.Mercer said it viewed such “less enforced” reasons for considering ESG factors to be extremely positive.“To enable long-term mindset changes, and real positive changes in any space, the change must happen because internal participants realise the value for themselves – rather than being told or forced to act by regulation,” it said in its survey report.The survey was of 927 institutional investor clients of Mercer across 12 countries, reflecting total assets of around €1.1trn. UK-based participants were the largest survey group, representing 44% on an asset-weighted basis.Jo Holden, European director of strategic research at Mercer, said: “It is encouraging to see such a strong increase in ESG risk awareness, including the potential impact of climate change, on the part of institutional investors.“Investor portfolios can often be improved from an ESG perspective with only relatively minor steps, for example there are quick wins to be made by switching out a relatively small proportion of investments. We encourage schemes to consider developing a climate transition schedule for their portfolios and adopting responsible investment indices.” LAPFF: Rio Tinto bonus cuts for cave blast ‘a proper first step’ The chair of the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) has welcomed the reduction of bonuses for the CEO and other senior executives of Rio Tinto as “ a proper and appropriate first step” in responding to the destruction of the Juukan Gorge caves in May.The Australian mining company announced the measure on Monday when it released its review into the destruction of the caves.“The Forum will continue to liaise with both Rio Tinto and community representatives to monitor how the company’s response develops based on the review findings and the on-going parliamentary inquiry into the cave destruction,” said councillor Doug McMurdo, chair of the LAPFF.“I would hope to see a proportionate response from Rio Tinto based on the full set of evidence that emerges.”According to media reports, AustralianSuper, Austrlian’s largest pension fund, has said the “proposed penalties fall significantly short of appropriate accountability for those responsible”.The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors said the review “does not deliver any meaningful accountability”.In its statement, LAPFF said it in particular welcomed the review’s acknowledgement that the destruction of the caves should never have happened and that the company needed to rectify some corporate governance failings and operational processes that led to the loss of the cultural heritage site.On the day of the review’s release, Simon Thompson, chairman of Rio Tinto, said: “While the review provides a clear framework for change, it is important to emphasise that this is the start of a process, not the end.“We will implement important new measures and governance to ensure we do not repeat what happened at Juukan Gorge and we will continue our work to rebuild trust with the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people.” The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) have joined forces to “strengthen the connections between risk, returns, and sustainable development” through better corporate and investor communication.In a statement, the two organisations said their “landmark” collaboration would facilitate direct conversations between investors and business about what decision-useful sustainability-related information is, and how and where that information can be used.They said the collaboration was designed to complement existing regulatory and standard-setter work toward a globally harmonised system for ESG reporting by focussing on investor needs and strategic corporate communications.Corporate and investor dialogue was an area underserved to date, they said.