[Certified ESG Analyst Insights Sharing] Delton KF Lau, CESGA

Thanks to the coordination provided by the Friends of the Earth (HK). It is my honor to be a CESGA holder in Hong Kong to join the 1st CESGA Congress on 4 April 2024 at the ACCIONA Campus in Madrid, capital of Spain. The congress was organized by EFFAS – The European Federation of Financial Analysts Societies, in collaboration with the Spanish Institute of Financial Analysts.


The CESGA (Certified ESG Analyst) Congress is an international and influential event in the sustainable finance space, highlighting the growing importance of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) integration in the financial sector. EFFAS, the leading association of financial analyst societies in Europe, played a crucial role in organizing this congress to promote sustainable finance education and best practices.

This event brought together over 100 national and international leaders from the financial sector and the ESG world. During the event, it provided a tremendous opportunity for me to discuss with global ESG professionals regarding the latest developments and trends in sustainable finance worldwide, as well as to examine new regulatory frameworks, innovative sustainable investment strategies, and emerging challenges and opportunities in the ESG sector.

The congress featured six insightful sessions, each addressing various aspects of the sustainable finance transformation:

Session 1 – The Great Reallocation” – focused on the shift of capital investments towards institutions and projects that emit minimal greenhouse gases (GHG). This reallocation is a crucial step in transitioning to a low-carbon economy and mitigating the impacts of climate change. According to a recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), global investment in renewable energy exceeded fossil fuel investments in 2023, reflecting this significant reallocation of capital. The session highlighted the importance of redirecting financial flows to support the development and deployment of clean energy technologies, as well as the need for robust policy frameworks and incentives to accelerate this transition. Speakers also emphasized the role of financial institutions, such as banks and asset managers, in driving this reallocation by incorporating ESG considerations into their investment decisions and engaging with companies to encourage the adoption of sustainable practices.

Session 2 – Landscape of Sustainable Investment in Europe” highlighted the transformational factors shaping the sustainable investment landscape in Europe, such as new regulations, growing environmental awareness, technological advances, and complex socio-economic and political dynamics. A steady growth in sustainable investing assets across Europe in recent years had been recorded. The session emphasized the importance of collaboration among stakeholders, including policymakers, investors, and corporations, to create an enabling environment for sustainable investment and to address the challenges and opportunities associated with the transition to a more sustainable economy. The role of the European Union’s Sustainable Finance Action Plan in promoting sustainable investment and the potential impact of the EU Taxonomy, a classification system for environmentally sustainable economic activities, on the investment landscape has briefly been discussed.

Session 3 – “New Corporate Disclosure Regulation, a Landmark in Sustainable Finance?” discussed how the recent implementation of the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is transforming the sustainable finance landscape. The CSRD mandates more extensive sustainability reporting for large companies, providing capital markets and stakeholders with reliable sustainability-related information. The session explored the implications of the CSRD for companies, investors, and other stakeholders, as well as the potential challenges and opportunities associated with its implementation. Participants also discussed the role of the CSRD in promoting transparency, accountability, and comparability in sustainability reporting, and its potential to drive the integration of ESG considerations into investment decision-making. The session also highlighted the importance of harmonizing sustainability reporting standards globally to ensure consistency and comparability of ESG data across jurisdictions.

As a professional in investment and fund management, I found sessions 4 and 5 particularly engaging. “Session 4 – Innovation across Asset Class Trends in ESG Valuation and Research: Fixed Income” and “Session 5 – Trends in ESG Valuation and Research: Equity” – highlighted the symbiotic relationship between equity and fixed-income investors and companies with strong ESG credentials. Research from the CFA Institute and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) has shown the growing importance of ESG data integration in investment decisions across asset classes. The sessions explored the latest trends and best practices in ESG valuation and research, as well as the challenges and opportunities associated with integrating ESG considerations into fixed income and equity investment strategies. Participants also discussed the role of ESG data and analytics in informing investment decisions and driving the transition to a more sustainable economy.

No doubt, ESG data is the backbone of any regulatory industry. Establishing a pillar of standardized corporate reporting alongside financial reporting on an equal footing would provide quality sustainability-related information to capital markets and other stakeholders, helping to avoid greenwashing and to foster the creation of a single harmonized and reliable data platform, which would be an important goal. Another important point is how investment firms are responding to significant investments in ESG capabilities, team building, and improving performance in areas such as net zero targets, sustainability governance, and positive impact strategies, which would be another determining factor.

The final session, Session 6 – The Future of the ESG Analyst” analyzed the evolving role of ESG professionals in the rapidly changing landscape of sustainable finance. The session explored the key skills and competencies required for ESG analysts to effectively navigate the complex and dynamic world of sustainable investing, as well as the emerging trends and challenges shaping the future of the profession. Participants also discussed the importance of continuous learning and professional development for ESG analysts, as well as the need for collaboration and knowledge-sharing among professionals in the field to drive the integration of ESG considerations into investment decision-making and to promote the transition to a more sustainable economy. The session emphasized the growing demand for ESG professionals with a diverse skill set, including expertise in data analysis, sustainability reporting, and stakeholder engagement. Speakers also highlighted the potential for ESG analysts to play a critical role in driving the transition to a more sustainable economy by providing valuable insights and recommendations to investors and companies.

To conclude, the global shift towards sustainability and the growing demand for ESG professionals underscore the need for verified information and standardized data. Reliable data is crucial for building green and sustainable portfolios. Looking ahead, the focus on ESG practices will continue to expand beyond climate change, with increasing attention on biodiversity and social empowerment. The empowerment of investors, asset managers, and ESG analysts with accurate information will be a key driver in the transformation towards a greener and more sustainable future.