Sovereign wealth fund investments and the need to undertake socially responsible investment

Article English OPEN
Yin, Wei (2017)
  • Publisher: Hamad bin Khalifa University Press (HBKU Press)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.5339/irl.2017.9
  • Subject: Sovereign wealth funds | socially responsible investment | corporate social responsibility | corporate governance

There is an increasing consensus that, beyond financial returns, investors should also consider the environmental and social impacts of their business activities. Major institutional investors currently are entering the realm of socially responsible investment (SRI), which incorporates environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into decision-making based on internationally recognized standards and principles. As influential institutional investors, sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) have attracted attention worldwide and raised concerns from host countries. In this context, questions may arise, such as: Whether and why do SWFs need to undertake SRI? How to implement SRI strategies by SWFs? Can SWFs influence corporate performance through SRI? This paper analyses the impact of SWFs in the realm of SRI and clarifies relevant legal issues concerning SRI initiatives by SWFs. It first examines the rationale of SRI and the reasons to implement SRI from theoretical and practical perspectives. It then questions the necessity to undertake SRI by SWFs. It discusses how to practice SRI based on examples of selected SWFs. It finally assesses relevant legal issues of SWFs’ SRI actions. It concludes that SWFs can promote social responsibility and influence corporate governance of target companies to ensure their returns through SRI. But to be responsible investors promoting sustainability, SWFs ought to undertake SRI in line with certain legislative constraints or specific guidelines.
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