Think Tank
G20, Sustainability and ESG Standards
List of speakers

On October 11, the Valdai Club, in partnership with Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) held a T20 online roundtable, titled “The Role of the G20 in Developing an Internationally Recognised ESG Framework”. The event was opened by Andrey Bystritskiy, Chairman of the Board of the Foundation of Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club, and Ettore Greco, IAI’s Executive Vice President.

Yaroslav Lissovolik, moderator of the discussion and Programme Director of the Valdai Club, pointed out in his opening remarks the special place that ESG (ecology, social development and corporate governance) standards and the green agenda occupy in the global economy. He stressed that lately, large developing economies have become more active in this area. In particular, Russia and China are stepping up their efforts to become a part of this process.

Dmitry Pristanskov, Vice President of Norilsk Nickel, spoke about the recommendations prepared for the G20 by the B20 engagement group with his participation on the development of ESG standards in the financial and infrastructure sectors, emphasising that different countries have different levels of economic development and legal and regulatory frameworks that do not allow a one-size-fits-all approach.

Mariano Machado, a member of the Argentine Council for International Relations (CARI), added that the G20 could pave the way towards the implementation of the ESG, but noted that standards should arise organically and not be imposed from above.

Akshay Mathur, Director of ORF Mumbai and Head of the Geoeconomics Studies Programme, analysed the possible role of international institutions in spreading the ESG agenda. He paid attention to the issues of reporting and information disclosure related to sustainable development, and the problem of institutional investors’ attitudes towards ESG. Claude Lopez, head of the research department at the Milken Institute, noted that the concept of ESG is currently too vague and needs to be more detailed. “Companies need to know by what criteria they will be evaluated and compared. This is a matter of risk assessment,” she said.

Anton Tsvetov, Deputy Director of the Department of Multilateral Economic Cooperation and Special Projects at the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, spoke about the G20 discussions on the tools for achieving sustainable development goals and developing ESG standards. “It is very important for the G20 to build a consensus among the key economies to create an incentive for the private sector,” he concluded. Agostino Inguscio, Senior Expert in the G7/G20 Sherpa Office of Italy’s Presidency of the Council of Ministers, outlined the efforts in this direction by Italy, which holds the G20 presidency in 2021. The discussion was summed up by Fabrizio Botti, the senior researcher at IAI.