Mary Porter Peschka, Director, ESG Advice and Solutions at the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), provides an expert’s perspective on ESG, emerging markets and the development community...

OPEC Fund Quarterly: What are the main ESG-related challenges and opportunities of investing in emerging markets? Mary Porter Peschka: As the groundswell for ESG continues, two fundamental challenges need to be addressed to open the door to investment: access to usable, standardized ESG data; and consistency in disclosure of material ESG and sustainability issues. Data and disclosure go hand in hand. The United Nations Conference on

Trade and Development (UNCTAD) recently reported that sustainable financing is struggling to find its way to investments in developing countries due to perceptions of heightened ESG risk, even though funds dedicated to investment in sustainability have reached US$1.3 trillion globally.1

The lack of ESG

Without reliable ESG data, investors cannot see how ESG risks are managed – or where untapped opportunities lie.

Mary Porter Peschka “ 10

information in emerging economies is a key factor preventing private capital from reaching these markets. Without reliable ESG data, investors cannot see how ESG risks are managed – or where untapped opportunities lie. To put it simply: transparency builds investor confidence and drives opportunity. At IFC, we’ve identified a critical issue:

there is no one acceptable framework for ESG disclosure. To address this, we developed IFC’s Disclosure and Transparency Toolkit2


where we work with investors, regulators, companies and in some cases, market intermediaries, to provide more comparable and consistent ESG disclosure. With these tools and resources, our goal is to help encourage adoption of strong industry practices related to ESG disclosure.

that streamlines

current reporting frameworks and provides a step-by-step approach on ESG disclosure and transparency for emerging markets. We also introduced a disclosure and transparency support program for emerging economies,

OFQ: What is the role of the development community in driving ESG adoption and communicating its importance? MPP: At IFC, our focus is demonstrating the value of robust ESG leadership practices based on real world investor experience and making critical connections that drive ESG standards market adoption. We have been working in the ESG space for over a quarter of a century, with our initial work centered on incorporating lessons learned from environmental reviews of each investment. We pioneered early concepts around ESG safeguards, and later developed industry-recognized standards. Today, IFC’s Environmental & Social Performance Standards and Corporate Governance Methodology are global benchmarks widely adopted by other development financial institutions, stock exchanges and regulators, export credit agencies, and other emerging market investors. We know that strong ESG standards can help deliver development impact: IFC’s ESG standards help address 16 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To mobilize the US$2.5 trillion in funds per year to reach the SDGs, we need

PHOTO: Courtesy of Mary Porter Peschka

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