September 28, 2015 / 1:32 PM / in 4 years

Aviva calls on United Nations to agree sustainable finance plan

LONDON, Sept 28 (Reuters) - The United Nations should lead the creation of a global standard for responsible investing to help unlock $300 trillion in capital markets finance, British insurer and asset manager Aviva said.

In a rare speech by a private sector organisation to the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, details of which were on Aviva’s website on Monday, Chief Executive Mark Wilson said the move was crucial to ensure sustainability goals were met.

Wilson called for a U.N. resolution on sustainable finance to be agreed by 2017 which would “set out the U.N.’s own roadmap for sustainable capital markets which to date does not exist”.

The speech comes ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December where countries will meet to agree steps to deal with the impact of global warming.

In a report issued alongside Wilson’s speech to the U.N., Aviva called for global benchmarks to be introduced that would help investors assess corporate performance on a range of environmental, social and governance-related issues.

While the U.N. already has a number of Global Goals for Sustainable Development, from ending hunger to providing water and sanitation to all, the power of global markets needed to be unlocked to help meet them, the report said.

“There are vast amounts of information on how businesses behave sustainably, but as this information does not adhere to clear standards, it is difficult to compare,” the report said.

“Therefore, in addition to promoting access to the data itself, we believe that a series of transparent benchmarks ranking corporate sustainability performance against a range of Sustainable Development Goal issues are required.”

The goals could cover issues such as climate change, human rights and labour standards, possibly convened by the relevant U.N. agency, with input from companies, civil society, investors and independent rating providers on the methodology, it said.

The fund arm of HSBC, Britain’s biggest bank, last week agreed to measure and disclose the carbon footprint of its funds on an annual basis after signing up to the Montreal Carbon Pledge.

Aviva Investors, Aviva’s fund arm, is already a signatory to the Pledge, which is supported by the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment. (Reporting by Carolyn Cohn and Simon Jessop; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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