A group of global institutional infrastructure investors, including AIMCo, APG, ATP, Aviva Investors, CalPERS, Mirova, Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and PGGM, representing US$1.5 trillion, today announced the launch of GRESB Infrastructure, a global sustainability benchmark for infrastructure assets. The new investor-led initiative has partnered with GRESB, the global standard for portfolio-level sustainability assessment in real estate, to develop and establish a consistent global sustainability framework for the infrastructure sector. The assessment will allow more capital to flow into sustainable infrastructure and to raise the level of sustainability of existing infrastructure worldwide.
With governments around the world increasingly looking to the private sector to fund infrastructure investments, the asset class is presenting attractive opportunities for investors. Infrastructure is rapidly becoming an integral part of a diversified investment management strategy, especially for long-term institutional investors. Data shows that 28 percent of pension funds now invest in infrastructure, though allocations are still low (below 1 percent of their total investments, on average) and are expected to increase in the coming years. Infrastructure and sustainability are closely related: as the backbone of the global economy, infrastructure investments offer scalable, resilient pathways to sustainable economic growth by delivering key societal benefits, such as vital transportation links, (renewable) energy sources, livability, social infrastructure, water and waste management systems, smart grids and low-carbon transportation systems.
Given the long-term horizon and the societal impact of infrastructure investment, sustainability and broader environmental, social and governance considerations are critically important for infrastructure investors. Therefore we join forces in setting up a global benchmark that provides insight, allows us to measure the progress and gives us the means to engage with our investee funds and companies, says Patrick Kanters, Managing Director, Global Real Estate and Infrastructure, APG Asset Management.
The new infrastructure sustainability benchmark will offer investors an industry-wide assessment and process to enable systematic evaluation of the sustainability performance of their global infrastructure assets. It will provide a consistent framework for investors to collect and compare key environmental, social and governance (ESG), and related performance metrics across their infrastructure assets. Access to better quality and standardized ESG data also enables investors to fulfill increasingly rigorous ESG reporting obligations.
CalPERS looks forward to working with GRESBs platform to gain insights into current and prospective infrastructure assets. GRESB has an established and global track record in assessing and evaluating social and environmental factors, which will shed more light on sustainability considerations for investors to understand and manage. Utilizing this platform gives CalPERS a process for implementing our Investment Beliefs, enabling us to better understand and navigate the multi-faceted risks and opportunities of our portfolio, says Anne Stausboll, Chief Executive Officer, CalPERS.
The first assessments under the GRESB Infrastructure framework are expected in the first quarter of 2016.