On April 14, 2022, the Global Climate Initiative For Boards (GCI 4 Boards) held its first online event after the global geopolitical shock, dedicated to the ESG agenda in the new reality. The meeting participants have discussed the ESG perspectives focusing on the following topics:
– Will companies stick to their ESG goals and approaches?
– Will ESG fade into the background or, on the contrary, will prove its importance in making the business more resilient?
The discussion was attended by: Tatyana Mitrova, Board Member, NOVATEK and Schlumberger; Dmitry Aksakov, Vice President of VEB.RF; Evgeny Shwartz, Independent Director, Board Member, Norilsk Nickel and RUSAL; Irina Bakhtina, Director, Sustainable Development, RUSAL; Viktor Drozdov, Director, Business Communications and Investor Relations, Polyus; Sergey Kudryashov, Head of the ESG department, PhosAgro; Yulia Mazanova, Deputy General Director, Sustainable Development and Corporate Communications, Metalloinvest, Ivan Kukhnin, Partner, Deloitte, CIS; Maria Novokreshchenova, Deputy General Director, Horizon CF and others.
It is worth noticing that all participants in the discussion stay convinced of the ESG importance in the context of global political and economic restructuring which is now taking place in the world. After the initial shock, the boards of directors and management of Russian companies, though thinned and overloaded with business restructuring task, temporarily pushed aside strategic issues. Still, they are thinking about using ESG to maintain business sustainability, especially in the context of the S and the G, while climate issues are temporarily out of the immediate agenda. Obviously, companies where ESG was just a fashion trend will try to skip it. However, for companies leading the ESG agenda in Russia, it is time to test their adherence to ESG principles.
Speaking of NOVATEK experience, Tatyana Mitrova noted: “Renewable energy and hydrogen projects, on which we worked before the world changed, live on. Our general vector remains unchanged”. Irina Bakhtina pointed out that “sustainable development is not just the ESG factor, but part of a large stakeholder theory”, aimed at taking into account the interests of future generations (eco-defenders). The allocation of ESG factors by significance is incorrect, the balance of all components of the agenda is important here. RUSAL, without slowing down, continues to develop its projects in accordance with the ESG principles and taking into account the interests of all stakeholders. Major market players, in particular, Polyus, PhosAgro, Norilsk Nickel, Metalloinvest holding, do not plan to abandon their long-term ESG goals. According to Viktor Drozdov, the main message of such a commitment is still considered to be a competitive advantage – how ESG leaders will stand out in the market.
As Dmitry Aksakov noted, “observance of the minimum ESG propriety must be maintained, it will be very important in the long term.
VEB.RF clients also do not abandon their strategies and do everything to fulfill their obligations”.
The discussion proved that the companies are unanimous in assessing the importance of ESG despite external political and economic difficulties, changes in supply chains, and internal shifts in the composition of the board of directors. In assessing the ESG, the importance of balancing all factors was emphasized. The companies do not plan to cancel long-term ESG goals and ESG development continues under new circumstances.