Over the past year we have experienced an evolution in the importance of Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) issues, both by the business and wider society. Once perceived as a ‘nice to have’, ESG has swiftly transitioned to the forefront and is now considered essential to business and investment strategies.
While ESG covers a range of pressing issues, climate change is increasingly recognized as an urgent crisis with far-reaching and potentially disastrous implications for business and society. For years we have been warned of the damage to our planet as a result of human influence, but recent research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”)1 indicating the stark reality of our circumstances, as well as conversations leading up to and during UN Climate Change Conference (“COP26”), has led to more commitment and a real sense of urgency to keep the 1.5° goal alive. Whilst the outcomes of COP26 left many feeling despondent, there is still a tremendous amount of hope. This is particularly true for the built environment, which plays a significant role in achieving our global decarbonisation efforts in a fair and just way. At Fiera Real Estate (“FRE”), we recognize the impact that we, and our managed funds, have on the planet, people and communities. As a global real estate firm, we are in a unique position to drive real change across our sector.
Our ESG journey has evolved considerably over the past five years in response to fastmoving trends and growing investor expectations. Our global ESG strategy is built around three fundamental pillars: Responsible, Resilient, Engaged. These pillars, underlying focus areas and KPIs form the foundation of our fund management approach and have become crucial to our overall business strategy.
As we reflect on all we have achieved in 2021, it is with a huge sense of hope about what can be accomplished when everyone collectively embraces the importance of these topics. In addition to achieving GRESB Green Star status across all funds, we have built platforms and processes to measure and monitor physical climate risk exposure across our globally managed assets. We have commenced our net zero carbon journey across several of our managed funds and trialled innovative technologies to reduce emissions and collect more data to better understand our footprint.
The FRE UK Long Income Fund was accredited as a Living Wage Employer, which sees all service providers across the FRE UK Long Income Fund portfolio being paid a wage significantly higher than the minimum wage. Finally, as a business, we managed to exceed our target by raising and donating over $120,000 for charity in 2021. We have a long way to go but we believe that the year ahead will evoke an even greater sense of urgency to tackle these increasingly important topics. The time to act is now, that has never been clearer. At FRE, we are committed to work together, with our stakeholders and the industry to continue driving and supporting positive change across the real estate sector.