MSCI launches sustainability institute, led by former ESG, climate research head

Hiromichi Mizuno, who joined MSCI in August as a special adviser to the CEO, will advise the MSCI Sustainability Institute.

MSCI has launched the MSCI Sustainability Institute, which aims to drive progress on the role of capital markets in creating sustainable value and tackling global challenges such as climate change.

It will leverage MSCI’s experience and expertise in the investment industry to spur collaboration across finance, academia, government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), think-tanks and companies from different sectors, while helping to close the gaps between strategy-setting data, analysis, policy and action, says MSCI on Sept 13.

Advancing the transition to a clean-energy economy and addressing other long-term risks demands that leaders across the capital markets ecosystem work together, says the New York Stock Exchange-listed index provider.

According to MSCI, the institute will provide academic researchers and policymakers access to sustainability data, metrics and models that investors use to inform their decision-making. It plans to collaborate with select academic institutions, including Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, to host training designed to help researchers and students understand the purpose and applications of these metrics for capital allocation.

The institute will also encourage capital markets participants to pilot new data and approaches for measurement that provide insights on emerging topics in sustainable finance and inform capital allocation decisions, says MSCI.

This includes a framework for investment in climate resilience developed by the New York-based Global Adaptation and Resilience Investment Working Group (GARI), with analytical backing from the Institute and financial support from the Bezos Earth Fund and ClimateWorks Foundation.

In addition, the institute will curate a selection of academic studies that investigate how sustainability factors interact with the value of financial assets.

Finally, the institute aims to offer a forum for debate, says MSCI, by bringing together leaders from across the capital markets ecosystem to exchange diverse points of view on sustainability risks and opportunities. These are presented as articles on the institute’s website.

Linda-Eling Lee has been named founding director and head of the MSCI Sustainability Institute. Lee most recently led global ESG and climate research at MSCI.

“We are incredibly excited to work with investors, academics, policymakers, NGOs and companies across industries, leveraging MSCI’s experience in developing new ways to measure both financial and non-financial value,” says Lee. “Together, we will deepen knowledge of how capital markets can help drive sustainable value.”

Hiromichi Mizuno, who joined MSCI in August as a special adviser to the CEO, will advise the MSCI Sustainability Institute.

Mizuno served as the executive managing director and chief investment officer of the Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) of Japan, the largest pension fund in the world with approximately US$1.4 trillion ($1.91 trillion) in assets under management, from 2015 to 2020. Mizuno was also special envoy of the UN Secretary General on innovative finance and sustainable investments and director of the board of Tesla.

Mizuno will help build the institute’s advisory group, including leading investors, academics and other thought leaders.

According to the institute’s website, Daniel Cremin serves as chief operating director. Based in the UK, he previously directed MSCI’s climate alliances within the firm’s ESG and climate product team and led MSCI’s ESG and climate marketing strategy.

Meanwhile, Rumi Mahmood serves as the institute’s research director for Europe, Middle East and America (EMEA). Based in the UK, he directs the institute’s research into capital markets and applied finance and also oversees collaborations with academia. He was previously head of ESG and climate fund research for MSCI ESG Research.

Mahmood’s counterpart for the US is Umar Ashfaq. Based in New York, he was previously a lead analyst for the transportation and logistics industries with MSCI ESG Research.

While the two research directors have specific remit to cover EMEA and US, the institute will be assisted in its varied initiatives by other colleagues from MSCI on project- or program-specific basis, says an MSCI spokesperson in response to queries by The Edge Singapore about the institute’s coverage of the Asia Pacific region.

“Global challenges such as climate change cannot be solved by governments, corporations, NGOs or multilateral organisations alone,” says Henry Fernandez, chairman and chief executive officer of MSCI. “The most meaningful solutions all require some type of cross-sector collaboration. Through the MSCI Sustainability Institute, we will bring together a wide range of thinkers with complementary strengths and expertise, and help them turn data-driven ideas into real-world influence and action.”

Photos: MSCI

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