Riding the Wave : Navigating the ESG Landscape for Sovereign Debt Managers
The world is on an unsustainable path. Financial sector participants are becoming more conscious of the impact of their economic, social and environmental footprint. As the investor community makes progress towards integrating environment, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment mandates, particularly for equities and corporate debt, integrating these factors into the sovereign debt asset class has lagged- although investment practices and approaches are evolving. As the financial ecosystem changes, the Debt Management Office (DMO), as the main financing arm of the state, would benefit greatly from understanding how these changes affect the core Public Debt Management (PDM) mandate and how to respond to the growing investor demand for sustainable finance. The paper presents an overview of areas in which DMOs can respond to the changing world and proposes six ESG market readiness factors as well as a framework to help formulate DMO strategy in the area of ESG investing. The paper also concludes that in less developed markets, given weak institutional arrangements, it is often better to concentrate development efforts on the local capital market as this will ultimately support a more sustainable economy in the long run.