Today ecological and social criteria (ESG, Environmental Social Governance) are as important for investors as financial indicators. Companies that do not comply with environmental or ethical standards are increasingly being punished by the financial markets. They must now disclose which resources are used in the manufacture of a product, which suppliers are employed, which pollutant residues may still be in the product, etc. The Sustainability and Diversity Improvement Act (NaDiVeG) commits companies in Austria to this type of transparency.
There are various initiatives that attempt to counteract climate change on the capital market. For example, the Vienna Stock Exchange is part of the "Sustainable Stock Exchange Initiative" of the United Nations. The goal of the initiative is to promote long-term and sustainable investments and the disclosure of ESG indicators in dialogue with investors, companies and supervisory authorities. In the Working Group Austrian Corporate Governance Code, the Vienna Stock Exchange is committed to a set of rules that meets international standards for the responsible management and leadership of companies in Austria. With the "Action Plan. Financing Sustainable Growth" the EU sets targets for the financial sector. In June 2018, Austrian politicians presented the paper "#mission2030 - the Climate and Energy Strategy of the Austrian Federal Government" and anchored the promotion of Green Finance here.
What opportunities for sustainable investments are there?
Currently, 19 companies are listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange, which according to rfu are leaders in ecological and social activities and services. These include (as of June 2019):
These companies are included in the sustainability index VÖNIX. It is the benchmark for sustainable investment in Austria. Since 2005 the VÖNIX has been calculated daily in real time in Euro by the Vienna Stock Exchange.
The CEE counterpart to VÖNIX is the CECE Socially Responsible Investment (CECE SRI EUR). It consists of those companies that are tradable on the stock exchanges in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe and that are leaders in terms of social and environmental performance.
Green bonds are considered a new form of sustainable investment. Their sole purpose is to finance ecological projects.
The EU Commission is currently working on official European sustainability standards and certificates for Green Bonds. This is intended to encourage countries and companies to issue even more Green Bonds. On the other hand, a stop should be put to possible uncontrolled growth.
At present, voluntary guidelines already exist, which are laid down in the "Green Bond Principles". They are designed to ensure the integrity and transparency of the product and regulate the selection process for a project, the disclosure and management of the use of funds and the reporting requirements to ensure that the funds actually benefit society and the environment. The guidelines also include the recommendation of an external review by independent institutes, which assess the sustainability of the respective project through so-called second party opinions. There is also the possibility of an eco-rating.