‘Adapt or die’: the UN’s corporate sustainability pioneer shares lessons of 2020

Despite a global recession, Georg Kell says ESG investing is even more critical in an imperilled world

Arabesque Partners chairman Georg Kell speaks to Kelsey Warner this week on the future of responsible investing, including the role of artificial intelligence to drive decisions.

As the founding director of the UN Global Compact, Mr Kell was a pioneer in defining and assessing environmental, social and governance factors that can drive corporate strategy and investment decisions to improve the state of the world.

Corporate sustainability has evolved over the past two decades – what began as “do the right thing” has become a necessity for corporations to survive on an imperilled planet, Mr Kell says. Since May, the ESG-focused fund he chairs has experienced an increase in interest and investment returns.

Mr Kell served as the UN Global Compact director from 2000 to 2015, helping to build the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world, getting thousands of companies to take action in support of the organisation's sustainable development goals.

Since September 2016, Mr Kell has also chaired the Volkswagen Sustainability Council, an independent body that advises VW on issues of social responsibility and the future of mobility. The group was formed following the high-profile diesel emissions scandal. He jumped at the chance to serve on the council, and explains why coming out of the shadow of controversy, VW is now at a competitive advantage five years later.

The podcast is hosted by Mustafa Alrawi.

In this episode:

Mustafa and Kelsey on ESG (0m 39s)

Where are we with sustainable finance? (2m 28s)

Arabesque and sustainable intelligence (7m 00s)

How to address biased machine learning (13m 52s)

The lessons learnt by Volkswagen (15m 15s)

Who gains and loses because of the ESG criteria (20m 06s)

Headlines (22m 29s)

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