Guidelines for PRI public communications

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1 Guidelines for PRI public communications 1. Introduction The PRI Initiative will develop a stronger public profile to promote its new research and public policy agenda, complementing its historical focus on communicating on issues surrounding the implementation of the Principles and responsible investment. With additional internal and external communications capacity in place, the Initiative seeks to become more engaged in the debate about the role of investors in the creation of a sustainable global financial system, and the benefits that this will bring to markets, companies, the environment and society more broadly. It will continue to engage in the public discourse about responsible investment implementation and challenges, and advocacy of the Principles themselves, as it has always done. 2. Objectives The objective of this document is to outline the policy and processes within the PRI Secretariat to govern the use and scope of the PRI s contribution to public debate. It also highlights the vital role of communications in driving transparency and accountability, and ultimately in improving the effectiveness and impact of the PRI Initiative. The overarching goal of our communications strategy is to build an influential and authoritative voice for the PRI amongst all our stakeholders current and potential signatories, the media and other influencers, RI thought leaders, academics, policymakers, and PRI staff. 3. Scope This section outlines the scope and potential topics that each PRI voice will draw on to support the new strategy. Advocacy of the Principles themselves, the PRI s core work streams and responsible investment in general This is the typical communication that the Initiative has undertaken to date. It will continue to be applied within its existing parameters on the following topics. To advocate the Principles and responsible investment. To demonstrate progress towards implementation by the Initiative and signatories.

2 To evidence impact and showcase best practise identified in the annual reporting and assessment process. To promote the findings of PRI-branded publications from work streams. Examples would include the Executive Director providing comment to media on the relevance of responsible investment in a particular asset class: From the PRI s 2011 annual survey in which 544 signatories responded we know 252 signatories have 25% or more of their assets under management invested in fixed income. This includes corporate, sovereign, and other noncorporate issuers. The PRI has seen tremendous interest from its signatories regarding how ESG issues can impact fixed income investments, and several of our signatories have launched products in the field. In the case of sovereign bonds, it is clear ESG issues such as political and social risk can have a sizeable impact. For example, the current situations within the Eurozone, in Hungary, and implications from the Arab Spring all demonstrate the importance of investigating the relationship between ESG issues and a country s creditworthiness. This does not include commenting on specific signatories or controversies, but we may reflect on larger trends. For example, when asked by a journalist to comment on the Henderson and Aviva moves in 2012: We can t comment on individual organisations decisions, but it is clear the industry is in transition. There will be ups and downs, but the fact is we ve seen considerable growth in ESG integration and engagement activities over recent years, including during the height of the financial crisis. Responsible investment is a long-term trend and there is no doubt that over a five-year period, it has grown strongly in many regions, both in depth and breadth. And over the next five years, it is sure to grow a lot more. Advocacy and commentary around the PRI research and public policy agenda We will actively promote the new research that the PRI produces, including supporting publicly policy recommendations that may come out of the research. This can include supporting media releases with interviews with journalists, and writing opinion pieces and other articles featuring the content of the research. Research will be carried out in collaboration with signatories and the scope of this communication should be kept within what would be considered reasonable by our typical mainstream signatories who are leading on responsible investment. Guiding Principles We will not seek to represent the views of the whole signatory base or indicate that research or any recommendations are the views of signatories collectively. We will base our comments on high quality research containing well thought-out arguments and proposals that are rigorously defendable. These may as in the case of the Universal Owner publication contain recommendations for policy makers and investors. 2

3 Examples would include where the Executive Director states: Universal Ownership demonstrates the importance of ESG issues at a macro level and provides a strong rationale for large, diversified investors to take a strong lead in encouraging action to reduce externalities. Funding will not flow to large-scale impact investing projects unless governments are involved in reducing, for example, currency or political risk. We would encourage governments and investors to sit down and work out how this might be done in ways that deliver attractive returns to investors and achieve public policy goals. Our research has revealed that the best policies to do this are XXX. Endorsing other organisations initiatives The PRI Advisory Council and PRI Association Board has on a number of occasions issued statements on particular issues or in support of particular initiatives in its own name. In future, these statements and endorsements will come from the PRI Initiative itself. Guiding principles We will do not seek to represent the views of individual signatories or the signatory base as a whole. The PRI does not speak on behalf of signatories. We will endorse initiatives that directly support the Mission of the PRI, or directly assist in the goals of the Principles and their implementation by signatories. Will be applied to supporting initiatives or projects that are aligned, in general, with what leading mainstream signatories (long-term asset owners in particular) would think is reasonable and appropriate. Examples would include where the Executive Director states: The Investor Statement on Climate Change is endorsed by the PRI. Climate change is a real risk to investors, and the PRI calls on investors to support this initiative. The PRI supports the global call at Rio+20 for a global framework on corporate sustainability reporting. This proposal is very much aligned with Principle 3 of the PRI and we call on UN member governments to consider this proposal. Where we will not comment We will typically not comment and will not express views publicly in situations such as: Being asked for opinions on a signatory s specific practices or investments. Controversial public policy. Our position on public policy is to point to examples of good public policy (e.g. the Danish and South African RI disclosure efforts), but not comment on specific national legislation beyond setting out broad support for regulation that supports greater disclosure, RI activity etc. 3

4 Specific company misdeeds or questions of what investors should do regarding specific company controversies, beyond pointing to the importance of ESG issues to investors and demonstrating the case as an example. 4. Governance of PRI public communications This section outlines the governance processes that are in place to guide the use of each PRI voice. Public comments on core PRI matters, responsible investment best practices, etc. will continue to be provided by the PRI Secretariat s official spokespeople (Executive Director, Director of Responsible Investment, Chair) and with support from the PRI s Head of Communications. These are for internal executive determination, as they have been previously. Decisions about communications in support of PRI research will rest within the PRI Secretariat (Executive Director, Director of Responsible Investment, Head of Research & Public Policy, Head of Communications). Research publications will carry the PRI logo but will include a disclaimer making it clear that they do not necessarily represent the views of individual signatories or the signatory base as whole. These publications will be supported by media interviews, opinion pieces and conference presentations that will be facilitated by the PRI Secretariat. Where research partners or signatories involved in research seek to communicate publically on the findings, this will be subject to the development of key messages by the PRI Secretariat that all parties agree to adhere to in their communications. The decision over whether or not to support specific initiatives or projects will, in general, rest with the Executive Director in consultation with the Chair. This is likely to occur where: Statements have been developed by a group of signatories supported by the Secretariat, operating within the PRI s research or public policy programme; or by another investor group that includes a significant number of PRI signatories and is seen as reflecting the spirit of the PRI and the goals of the new Mission. Issues are mature and the position proposed will be widely understood and accepted by signatories. This might apply, for example, where the PRI has been working on an issue in various ways for some time e.g. webinars, thought leadership/public policy projects, the PRI in Person workshops. In cases where the Executive Director and Chair feel that the issue needs further consultation, PRI Association Board can be brought in for its views. The final decision should lie with the Executive Director and Chair. The escalation process for PRI s public communications is as follows: non-controversial issues Secretariat controversial issues Chair very controversial issues (ie. risk issue) Board 4

5 This voice will be expressed on behalf of the PRI Initiative as an organisation, and written materials will always include a disclaimer that the PRI is not speaking on behalf of signatory organisations individually or collectively. Statements clearly outlining the PRI s position and the rationale for support will be posted on the PRI s public website. This document was approved by the PRI Association Board in June 2012 and forms the basis for defining the scope of the PRI s approach to public communications. There will be other people who will do presentations on behalf of the PRI, including PRI Association Board/PRI Advisory Council members and other trusted signatories. We will develop clear guidelines for speakers for these presentations and the limited scope they have to speak on behalf the PRI and/or in their personal capacity. Only with explicit approval will anyone apart from the official spokespeople speak on behalf of the PRI. 5

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