Report from Xander den Uyl on the PRI and COVID-19

PRI Board Member Xander den Uyl (ABP Trustee - The Netherlands) provides CWC participants with an update on the organization’s response to COVID-19.

PRI recently published a bulletin on the COVID-19 crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic – and the global response to it – is a serious threat not only to global health, but to our communities, our economies and our investments. As long-term stewards of capital, investors can and should act now to help reduce harmful impacts including: the direct effect on public health, the severity of the associated economic slowdown, the deepening of inequality in societies and the resulting impacts of all of the above on mental health

The COVID-19 crisis impacts all investors and their beneficiaries – regardless of holdings, strategy or role in the investment chain. There is also a PRI-coordinated, ESG responses by investors to Covid-19 on the collaboration platform.

The PRI board met in two audioconferences in the beginning of March. The board looked at the effects of the COVID- 19 crisis on the staff of PRI, the activities of PRI in 2020 including the PRI in Person, and the possible financial effects on PRI. Up till now PRI is still growing and has more than 2900 signatories. PRI’s reporting deadline was extended until 7 April. Most signatories have filed. PRI now publishes a quarterly update for signatories, which is a good summary of activities.

The board looked at the progress of the new reporting framework. The tone of the signatory consultation responses has generally been positive. The board agreed that there will be more robust discussions with signatories when they can review the detailed structure and questions. The board welcomed the work undertaken on a complex and important project for the PRI. The project is on track and a number of risks have been reduced.

The board took some time to look at the development of the next three year strategic plan of PRI as the seconds phase of PRI’s 10 Blue print for responsible investing strategy. The consultation process gives support to the ‘big tent’ approach for PRI, that gives the PRI its legitimacy and authority, as the leading advocate for responsible investment. There is a trade-off between ‘big tent’ and the risk of greenwashing. The PRI has to guard its credibility and reputation to achieve change. At present the PRI caters for a range of signatories, from beginners to leaders, and from low to high participation and contact with the initiative and that will probably remain so in the future.

Xander den Uyl