Sustainability is moving front and centre for investors and companies which recognise that sustainable investment returns and sustainable business growth are two sides of the same coin. This was a core tenet of the Ito Review of 2014 which urged investors and companies to build favourable relationships and to work together on 'collaborative value creation'.

The GPIF has followed Professor Ito’s logic that companies and their shareholders will benefit mutually by working together to achieve better long-term growth. They are not the only Japanese pension fund to accept the Ito Review and there are a number of local investment managers who are enthusiastic about the potential. But for the majority of investors, the response might be described as base-line box-ticking.

Which seems strange when looking at the response of Japanese companies, many of which are working hard to embed sustainability into their business practices. Yes, they are reacting to direct pressure from foreign investors but the concept of sustainable growth achieved via improved corporate behaviour is clearly moving from the CSR departments, through to Investor Relations, and from there to Japan’s CEOs and CFOs. They are being aided by initiatives such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which have created a common language around which investors and companies can discuss how to create value collaboratively.

Now is the time for the majority of investors to follow these leaders. The agenda at RI Asia Japan 2018 will showcase the best examples of sustainable investing and sustainable business practices via an agenda packed with experts from Japanese and abroad.

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