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Placing ESG criteria at the heart of our investment decisions

Contributing to the sustainable development of a town, region or country requires the integration of social and environmental standards in every public investment project.

ESG criteria as an investment and risk management methodology.
We believe that ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) assessment should be more than a mere box-ticking exercise. Instead, this lies at the heart of every project we analyze, as we strive to serve and build sustainable communities on the long run. Our responsible investment process is underpinned by two fundamental documents: the Sustainable Development Charter and the APPROACH FOR A RESPONSIBLE ESG MANAGEMENT. Our Sustainable Development Charter commits our efforts to:

- Protect the environment
- Respect fundamental rights and develop human capital
- Meet the expectations of the community
- Value the human capital of Meridiam
- Apply the rules of good governance

Combining technical expertise with active asset management.

Developing and managing new infrastructure projects (“greenfield”) is a complex undertaking, which requires a multi-disciplinary team able to bring an integrated approach: a project is imagined at inception, takes shape at the design phase, becomes real during construction, and operates through the concession period that can be upwards of 30, 40 even 50 years.
What differentiates us from other investment funds is our unique blend of financial, engineering and management background, whose technical expertise and patient philosophy ensures that the best, most impactful projects come to life.

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals: a recognized impact framework

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs) constitute the new global development agenda for 2030 and a universal reporting referential which drives our sustainability strategy. It will hopefully drive the entire investment community in the same direction. Composed of 17 goals, 169 targets and 232 indicators, the SDG framework urges all public and private actors to reinforce their engagement and efforts towards sustainability. It aims to transform our world by eradicating poverty and inequality while ensuring its ecological and solidarity transition by 2030.

Meridiam’s ESG Due Diligence (DD) process was primarily based, until 2018, on managing ESG risks in respect of the highest international standards of quality. This applied throughout Environmental and Social Impact Assessments and the implementation of subsequent Environmental and Social Management Plans. In early 2018, we complemented this ESG process with the SDG evaluation framework, to make it stronger and more comprehensive on evaluating assets as part of complex systems, their resilience and the specific impacts and ramifications of a changing climatic system over their life cycle.

These Sustainable Development Goals are inherent to our long-term investment and asset management philosophy. They are embedded in Meridiam’s global ESG policy, enshrined in our by-laws and addressed in our investment and management processes. 
This approach applies to all funds and throughout the lifecycle of all projects. It is based on a selective filtering ahead of investments, via exclusion and restriction lists, followed by a positive selection of resilient infrastructure projects that address the needs of local communities. 
This approach is based on international standards, such as The UN Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI), and The Equator Principles, and also integrates the E&S policy of major financial development institutions such as The International Finance Corporation (IFC), The European Investment Bank (EIB) and
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
We have reinforced the rigorous impact evaluation assessment and monitoring of projects, ensured consistency with our development objectives and captured the positive contribution of projects on issues such as health, education, water, sanitation, energy, urbanization, environment and social justice.

Our Sustainability Goals
Our mission to be effective must be developed into clear deliverable goals: our goals are organized in 5 pillars: 

•    Deliver resilient infrastructure and develop sustainable cities (SDG#9 and #11)
•    Accelerate energy transition (SDG#7)
•    Avoid and reduce emissions (SDG#13)
•    Promote good work conditions, inclusion, diversity and gender equality (SDG#5 #8 and #17)
•    Protect and enhance biodiversity (SDG#14 and #15)

Measuring Impact with our own and unique methodology and expert tools 

In a permanent concern for improvement, we have developed a global and impact-oriented approach. Supported by our own methodology and reporting tool, it strengthens our ability to identify the most promising investments and to better integrate climate and social risks into our investment strategy:

•    A proprietary SDG impact measurement tool 
•    A carbon assessment footprint to assess the quantity of emission avoided
•   Two-infra challenge tool to measure alignment of portfolio with 2° target developed in collaboration with other industry player

In addition to an evaluation of each project’s contribution to the SDGs, Meridiam’s tailor-made tool and methodology can also present results on a global portfolio, and type of infrastructure basis. It provides measurable results. 

The annual performance evaluation of portfolios/assets now measure our contribution to the SDGs and identify what measures can be implemented to reinforce the performance and positive impact of Meridiam over the duration of each asset (download our 2020 impact report here).

 

Delivering more impact and fulfilling our mission

Combined with a quantitative assessment of projects based on the benchmark specifically developed for the tool, the methodology allows for a qualitative assessment of each project/fund/type of infrastructure to present their main benefits regarding each related SDG. 
It is not enough to just measure the impact but the tool also helps identifying the main areas of potential improvement for each asset, allowing Meridiam to set specific action plans to deliver such improvements. 
Traceable goals and results and clear lifelong relationships are a credible way to demonstrate that we are making a difference and moving things forward.
Our governance has evolved to be consistent with our mission. A specific Mission Committee was established to monitor a rigorous and genuine evaluation of the impact of our investments against our pillar goals and; set new targets for improvement. This committee of 6 includes representatives of the Supervisory Board, management, staff and one independent member from the industry. The Mission Committee will regularly engage with the Supervisory Board and the employee representative body (CSE).

For Sandra Lagumina, COO asset management Meridiam and chair of the committee:

“Since 2005, Meridiam is leading the way in impact investing and keeps implementing innovative and pioneering initiatives to reinforce its contribution to sustainability. This committee is another example of our determination to continuously improve our contribution to impact and act for the benefits of the communities.” 

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