ESG roundup: Diversity and inclusion strategy and fund names in the spotlight

Recent environment-related compliance and legal developments at a glance.

The US SEC on Monday announced that it has finalized its Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2023-2026. The plan builds on and advances the SEC’s DEIA commitment and previous successes.

The agency says its goal is to integrate DEIA as a priority that will support an inclusive culture where people from diverse backgrounds share ideas that affect not only workplaces and the financial services industry, but also the diverse communities that it serves.

The plan includes a framework for embedding DEIA around three primary pillars:

  • People: Build the SEC’s future through the SEC’s people.
  • Culture: Foster a culture of inclusivity, connectedness, and belonging.
  • Mission: Leverage DEIA for mission effectiveness.

The plan notes that the framework rests on the guiding principles of treating people how they want to be treated and not based on assumptions and in creating achievable and measurable goals that are designed to help fully integrate DEIA in the decision-making of the agency. It also rests on a commitment to reducing bias; ensuring identity is not predictive of opportunities or workplace outcomes; respecting diverse talents, ideas, experiences and identities, and providing a psychologically safe work environment.

The SEC’s Office of Minority and Women Inclusion, in partnership with divisions and offices across the agency, is leading this effort.

Expected Wednesday: Fund Names Rule amendments

The SEC is scheduled to vote on Wednesday to finalize amendments to its Fund Names Rule, according to an update of its regulatory agenda.

The Names Rule currently requires registered investment companies whose names suggest a focus in a particular type of investment (among other areas) to adopt a policy to invest at least 80% of the value of their assets in those investments. The SEC says the proposed amendments would enhance the rule’s protections by requiring more funds to adopt an 80% investment policy.

The proposal follows a request for comment the SEC issued in March 2020 and its proposed amendments issued in May 2022 that are designed to modernize the Investment Company Act’s “Names Rule” to reflect the many changes in the fund industry and compliance practices that have developed in the 20 or so years since the Names Rule was first adopted. 

Climate Week is this week

In New York City, Climate Week NYC is an annual event that takes place alongside the United Nations’ General Assembly’s meetings. It brings together international leaders from business, government and civil society to showcase global climate action, and is run by The Climate Group.

At the UN event happening in the city, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will hold his Climate Ambition Summit 2023 on Wednesday, which discuss the credibility of net zero and the role of regulation; how to deliver climate justice and implement early warning systems; and accelerating decarbonization through collaboration and implementation.

G20 to triple renewable energy capacity

At a two-day summit hosted over the weekend in New Delhi, G20 leaders announced an agreement to target tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030 and to cooperate on the development of clean energy technologies.

The leaders noted that progress on the UN Sustainable Development Goals is not on pace (only 12% of targets are on-track so far), so they pledged to accelerate their implementation and enhance financing of these efforts.

Net-zero strategies – DAC announced last Tuesday that it is making its first investment in direct air capture (DAC) technology, which removes emissions from the atmosphere, by committing to purchase 250,000 tons of removal credits over 10 years.

And Microsoft has signed a multi-year DAC agreement to remove up to 315,000 metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere in one of the largest carbon-removal deals to date.