August 18, 2012
Emerging Markets ESG Updates Database of Contacts
by Robert Kropp
SocialFunds.com talks with Geoffrey Mazullo, whose twenty years of involvement with environmental,
social, and corporate governance issues in emerging markets have provided him with a wealth of data
and contacts compiled in a unique resource.
Last month, Emerging Markets ESG
published the most recent update of its Database of Contacts in the
Field of Socially Responsible Investment (SRI), an exhaustive compilation of 1,539
organizations, and 807 conferences and events, from 72 countries.
The database is the brainchild of
Geoffrey Mazullo, as is Emerging Markets ESG itself.
Following a stint as Senior Analyst
with Institutional Shareholder Services
(ISS) in the early nineties, Mazullo went on to teach at two universities in Poland, positions
that he still holds. More recently, he traveled to Egypt to help that country's banks develop the
corporate governance standards required of signatories to the Equator Principles, a global framework for managing
environmental and social risk in project finance transactions.
He first compiled the
database in 2002, when he was in Budapest as the director of Partners for Financial Stability
(PFS), a program administered by the United States
Agency for International Development (USAID). In 2009, after the PFS program had ended, Mazullo
founded Emerging Markets ESG and continued to maintain the database.
with Mazullo this week, about the database and the mission of Emerging Markets ESG. My first
question to him addressed the inclusiveness of the database; why, when practically every endeavor
in the world having to do with sustainable investment is included, does the mission specifically
address environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) conditions in emerging markets?
"This isn't only about what's happening in the emerging markets themselves," Mazullo said.
"It's about flows of capital, and knowledge sharing and expertise, in developed markets as they
impact emerging markets."
For example, Mazullo continued, "How will ESG process and
analysis, management, and disclosure, impact institutional investors—specifically socially
responsible or responsible investors—in other parts of the world as they make investment decisions
that might include emerging markets?"
The breakup of the Soviet Union paved the way for
Mazullo's involvement in ESG issues in the emerging markets of Central and Eastern Europe.
"I went to Russia in 1992 as part of a delegation to help the Russian Ministry of Privatization
write corporate governance regulations," Mazullo said. "Then, in 2000, I went to Budapest," where,
as director of PFS, he first developed the database.
"The program was developed by USAID
in part as a response to the Asian and Russian crises," he said. "Not much was happening in Central
and Eastern Europe at that time, because there wasn't full-scale privatization of state pension
schemes, so major domestic institutional investors were not taking the issue of responsible
investment on board."
"The guiding principles were identification of best practice, and
adoption and implementation of international standards," he continued. "As part of that mandate I
added an additional layer of looking at extra-financial reporting as well."
He added, "I
was teaching corporate governance at the universities in Poland as well, and graduates of the
program could apply to become interns to work on the database."
When the program ended, "I
knew that I had access to lots of data that was in the public domain, and I also knew that I had
developed a huge network of contacts that I wanted to continue working with." In part to maintain
that network of contacts, Mazullo then founded Emerging Markets ESG, and began offering the
database as a free resource on the website.
"We update it on a six-month basis with
information from the public domain," he said. "Quite frankly, I don't know why some of the
multi-lateral institutions and international organizations don't have something like this. But they
don't, which is another reason to keep doing it."
When someone has been as involved in ESG
issues in emerging markets for as long as Mazullo has, it is inevitable that he will be asked to
provide his view on the progress made in the space over the years. Mazullo pointed to a service on
the website called Five Questions
about SRI, an interview series that features the insights of practitioners on the practice of
sustainable investment in emerging markets.
A perusal of the interviews demonstrates that
the issues confronting emerging markets and their adoption of ESG strategies are diverse, a
perspective with which Mazullo concurred. For instance, he pointed out, supply chain issues are
most often paramount in China; on the other hand, the most critical ESG issues in Poland are often
informed by citizens' access to international media outlets.
Mazullo noted that the
concept of Fair Trade was little understood by his students in Poland ten years ago. Now, he
pointed out, every student knows about it.
Referring to improved understanding of supply
chain management issues, Mazullo said, "When I read an article in the mainstream media drawing
references from conditions at Foxconn to executive compensation at Apple, I realize that gains have
"Gains have been made across the board," he continued, "And I think they've
been made because of standard-setting organizations and all the constituencies; not only
institutional investors, but local constituencies as well." Those local constituencies--including
nongovernmental organizations, public-private partnerships, and even listed companies
themselves--can all be accessed in the latest update of the database.
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