Guest editor Claire Cummins discusses the latest IEMA Outlook Journal v14: Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) in International Markets.


I am delighted to have been asked to be the Guest Editor for the latest IEMA Impact Assessment Outlook Journal looking at the evolution, challenges, and innovation in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) in International Markets.

ESG is an increasingly common term that is used to refer to the integrated management and governance of environmental and social (including health and safety) risks. Although the term ‘ESG’ is relatively new, it has its origins in sustainable development which is itself a term that can be traced back at least to 1987 and the Brundtland Commission (Our Common Future) Report.

The principle of an integrated approach is at the heart of international standards for project financing including the Equator Principles, the IFC Performance Standards, and the safeguarding frameworks established by many development finance institutions. The need for an integrated approach speaks to the fact that it is not possible to sustainably develop, operate (and later decommission) projects if the interconnectedness of environmental, health, safety and social factors is inadequately understood or overlooked. Embedding sustainability principles into business processes is now a much more mainstream practice. However, although a claim to sustainability can be a differentiator, the term is vulnerable to misuse, with companies being accused of ‘greenwashing’. Regulation is moving financial sector participants into a new era of transparency, integrity and disclosure. With this comes the need for capacity and professional practice, and for skilled and expert practitioners to continue to pave the way forward.

The first three articles in the Journal provide an overview of the evolution of the concept of ‘ESG’; the need for an integrated approach; the concepts of safeguarding, conditionality and additionality in the context of investments; and the regulatory environment. From here, we explored examples of safeguarding and risk management through the lens of human rights risk management in supply chains, and infrastructure investing. In the final article we turned our attention to the skills and experiences of ESG practitioners, with practical tips on how to build a career in ESG practice.

As a member of IEMA and as an ESG practitioner in the field of climate finance, I personally can speak of the rewarding and exciting opportunities this profession can offer. If you would like to become part of the GESA steering group, look out for calls for applicants that are advertised by IEMA annually around November/December. Finally, please check the IEMA website for future events that will be linked to the themes explored in the journal.

If you are interested in being involved in the GESA Working Group, IEMA members can email [email protected] to express an interest in joining the group.

Download a copy of the Outlook Journal here.

Please note: the views expressed in this blog are those of the individual contributing member and are not necessarily representative of the views of IEMA or any professional institutions with which IEMA is associated.

Photo of Claire ESG
Claire Cummins

Head of ESG, Climate Fund Managers B.V. (CFM), Climate Fund Managers B.V.

CFM is a Dutch investment manager contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation using blended finance to invest in emerging economies in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In her role as Head of ESG, Claire has a global responsibility for defining and driving the strategy and standards for sustainable investment in order to deliver meaningful and positive impact at the same time as minimising and mitigating risks in accordance with international standards.