BMO Global Asset Management (BMO GAM) announced today its key priorities for engagement in 2021, including addressing biodiversity loss, supporting social justice and reducing inequality, and driving action towards a net zero emissions global economy.

In 2020, BMO GAM’s responsible investment team engaged with 760 companies across 53 geographies. According to the company, the team achieved 348 outcomes as a result of direct engagement. BMO GAM stated that this year’s efforts will focus on supporting a sustainable recovery from the global pandemic and the 2030 target date for achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), while it will also continue to prioritise its engagement with companies in high climate impact industries.

Claudia Wearmouth, Co-Head of BMO GAM’s Responsible Investment team, said:

“The economic turmoil and social upheaval from the pandemic has put long-term sustainable challenges at the heart of the global agenda. Heightened public consciousness of social inequality, climate change and loss of biodiversity are putting pressure on global leaders to adopt immediate, integrated action. 

 “As investors, we have a central role to play in driving this action, through the responsible allocation of capital and engagement with companies to encourage positive change. Engagement with a wider pool of stakeholders alongside company dialogue is crucial to success, and to meet the 2030 SDG targets. A unified voice, across business, charities, governments and increasingly the public is our most powerful tool as we pursue a sustainable recovery, the Sustainable Development Goals and ultimately a sustainable world.”

BMO GAM’s biodiversity efforts will focus on the most critical sectors to reducing negative biodiversity outcomes, including the food and beverage, transport, extractives and financial sectors, engaging with companies to curb deforestation, manage soil and freshwater resources and address ocean pollution. Social justice and inequality initiatives will continue to address issues including living wage, gender diversity and access to healthcare, while further developing engagement efforts on issues such as management of racial and ethnic diversity, just transition in response to climate change, and other emerging human rights issues. On the net zero front, BMO GAM stated that it will push for the adoption of targets consistent with net zero emissions globally by 2050, including robust implementation strategies, while also continuing to press for climate change to be fully integrated into financial institutions’ lending and investment policies. The company will also begin engaging with the real estate sector on energy-efficient buildings.

Vicki Bakhshi, Director in the Responsible Investment team at BMO Global Asset Management, said:

 “2021, with the rescheduled COP26 climate negotiations, offers a real opportunity to close the gap between the current trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions and the radical cuts needed to keep on track to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Action by financial institutions and corporates will be critical, with the UN’s Race to Zero Campaign serving as a central reference point. We will increasingly be holding companies to account on the detail underpinning their climate pledges, to ensure commitments will contribute to meaningful change.”