Fair Finance: How can the global inequality gap be narrowed?
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Reducing inequality is one of the UN’s flagship goals, but the gulf between rich and poor worldwide remains persistently high. In the first of a special two-part series on the financial sector this weekend, Hiro Mizuno, the newly-appointed UN Special Envoy on Innovative Finance and Sustainable Investments explains how the industry can help to create a fairer, more equitable world, UN reports said.
Before his appointment as Special Envoy, on 30 December 2020, Mr. Mizuno, of Japan, served as Chief Investment Officer of the Japan Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF). He serves on the board of the Principles for Responsible Investment Association (PRI, an UN-backed body that aims to create sustainable markets that contribute to a more prosperous world for all), and has taken part in UN discussions on promoting the Sustainable Development Goals.
UN NEWS: How did you come to be involved with the UN and sustainable investment?
Hiro Mizuno: My journey started with a charity dinner around seven years ago when I found myself sat next to former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. I was a partner at a private equity firm at the time, and Mr. Annan asked me why Japanese investors were not interested in ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance investing, otherwise known as sustainable investing). I couldn’t answer, because this was the first time that I’d heard of ESG! When he explained, my first reaction was that, in fact, this sounded very much like a natural fit with Japanese corporate philosophy.
I’ve been working in the financial sector throughout my professional life. However, up until I became the Chief Investment Officer of the Japanese Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), I had always struggled with the concept at the heart of the investment industry; that, to win, you have to beat the market by outsmarting everyone else. I questioned whether the industry was adding any added value to society.
Then, when I joined the GPIF, which holds more than $1.5 trillion in assets, I realized that we effectively were the market. This is when I came up with the idea of universal…