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GCHU conference stimulates new thinking in Sustainable Finance

15 October 2020

Under the title Growing Enterprise Value – Generating Alpha, an online conference, hosted by the GCHU, brought together leaders in Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) to discuss innovative pathways towards credible, transparent, and measurable forms of sustainable investment. Speakers from The Prince’s Foundation, SK Group, the University of Oxford, Stanford University, and leaders in the finance industry contributed their insights on investment selection and monitoring methods.

The morning session explored the theme of Increasing Returns through Stewardship, and looked at sustainable development goals and financial returns, and the benefits of patient capital, with contributions from Ben Bolgar, Senior Director, The Prince’s Foundation; Charles Dugdale, Proprietary Partner, Knight Frank, and Gail Mayhew, Principal, Smart Growth Associates.

The following panel discussion with Aled Jones, Head of Sustainable Investments EMEA Region FTSE Russell, and Paul Woolman, Senior Director, Head of EMEA Equity and Alternative Index Products at CME, provided plenty of food for thought.

In the afternoon session, the conference was delighted to welcome Dr Woong Hwan Ryu, the Executive VP at SK Telecom. Dr Ryu currently leads the SV Innovation Center. As a part of his role, he guides the innovation of the new business model incorporating CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and DBL (Double Bottom Line) enabling open innovation as well as social value creation. He was followed by Dr Suk Kwon Na, the president of the Center for Social value Enhancement Studies (CSES, South Korea).

Speaking after the conference Dr Ryu, EVP commented:
Oxford assembled an impressive panel of speakers touching on cutting edge issues in sustainable finance. SKT has adopted Double Bottom Line accounting into all its business units, and is deeply committed to Social Value creation. Collaborating with the GCHU has given us the opportunity to benchmark ourselves against global best practices, and to further improve our ESG practices. We aim to be a global leader in sustainability and look forward to another event with GCHU in 2021.

Their take on Driving Enterprise Value using Double Bottom Line Accounting provided a rich basis for the ensuing panel discussion, chaired by Professor William Barnett, from Stanford Graduate School of Business, and featuring panellists – Olivia Albrecht, Executive Vice President and Head of ESG Business Strategy PIMCO; Bob Ratliffe, President Silver Creek Capital; Alicia Seiger, Managing Director, Sustainable Finance Initiative, Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University, and Alexis Deladerrière, Head of International Developed Markets Equity for Goldman Sachs Asset Management’s Fundamental Equity team.

Mazi Zarrehparvar, a serial entrepreneur and alumnus of Kellogg College, Oxford, reflected on the value of the sessions:
As a former Morgan Stanley banker and current Oxford sustainability researcher, I always welcome an infusion of insights from real world practitioners like SK Telecom, Goldman Sachs, Pimco, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, FTSE Russell and Silver Creek Capital. The conference showed off the wide range of players active in sustainable finance. It was also a pleasure to collaborate with our distinguished colleagues, Dr Bill Barnett and Alicia Seiger from Stanford University. It’s a great testament to the Co-Directors of the Centre, Dr David Howard and Professor Carl Heneghan, and to Kellogg College as a whole, that they have created an inspiring environment for leading academics and practitioners to come together, and share ideas from the forefront of this rapidly evolving movement in sustainability.

Dr David Howard, the Co-Director of GCHU, expressed his delight in the quality of contributions in this, the first GCHU conference.

I’d like to thank everyone who gave their time to make this such a stimulating day of discussion, and thought-sharing. The focus of the Centre’s work is on engaging with new ideas and practices for delivering ‘healthy cities’ – sustainable forms of finance are a key component of this more viable urbanism. I would also like to thank SK Telecom, and The Princes’ Foundation for all their help in making it happen. MSc Sustainable Urban Development alumnus, Mazi Zarrehparvar, has been instrumental in bringing together a range of influential voices from academia and business. By connecting leading practitioners in fora like this, the GCHU aims to encourage new thinking and thought-provoking ideas as a catalyst for practical solutions in healthcare and urbanisation. I’m eagerly looking forward to future events.