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Director and Head, ESG at IDFC Alternatives Ltd.
IDFC Alternatives is IDFC’s alternative asset management vertical and manages over US$3 billion on behalf of leading institutional investors from across the world. With three distinct asset classes – private equity, infrastructure equity and real estate – IDFC Alternatives offers investors a range of risk-return profiles.
Definition of Responsible Investment Banking
My definition of responsibility in investment and banking is one which creates enduring value for the society and environment in a sustainable manner.
Areas of Expertise
ESG Risk and Impacts; Responsible Investment; Environment, Social and Economic interface; Environment Management; Sustainable Development
Ashok Emani, a Chevening scholar and an IRCA approved Environment Management Systems (EMS) Lead Auditor, has over 18 years of diversified consulting, research and assessment experience in environment and social field. Since 2002 at IDFC, he is responsible for assessing environment and social risk of the infrastructure projects as part of lending and equity business. Currently, he is heading the ESG at IDFC Alternatives and is the SEMS Officer for the Fund. Ashok has university degrees in Life Sciences and Environmental Sciences along with M.Phil degree in Applied Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University. As part of Chevening Scholarship Program, Ashok received a certificate in Environmental Management and Sustainable Development from University of Wales, Bangor, UK.
Worldover, environmental and social concerns are increasingly being integrated by businesses in their operations and interaction with stakeholders on a voluntary basis. There is a realization that doing so would enable them to develop business models that are sustainable in the long run. This has also led to greater emphasis on disclosures which is evident from the participation of businesses in forums like the CDP, UNGC, UNPRI and ENP FI. However there are many in the industry who feel that concerns for the environment and social issues should be tempered with the need for greater economic development. Nowhere is this more true than in the emerging economies like India where building infrastructure and utilizing natural resources is imperative for the development of the economy. Many in the industry would like to see a balance between these two seemingly contradictory requirements. This “contradiction” is many times exacerbated by poor governance and enforcement of regulations.
One of the main concerns voiced by investors in India is the lack of proper infrastructure. Growth of infrastructure is imperative for the long term growth of the India economy. Infrastructure development in India has been spearheaded through the PPP model under the project financing framework. This necessarily involves large scale acquisition of land and use of natural resources. In this context, the principles of sustainable development assume greater importance.
Internationally financial institutions have stepped up to meet the E&S challenges posed by project financing activities by adopting the Equator Principles, a globally accepted common framework for assessing E&S risks based on an external benchmark of the World Bank sector guidelines and IFC Performance Standards. There are several factors which have driven the adoption of Equator Principles across the world. Brand reputation, best in class commitment, globally aligned systems & procedures, new business opportunities in financing, access to low-cost funds are some of the drivers which have compelled organisations to adopt Equator Principles. However, regional disparity is observed in EP adoption. Very few organisations from the emerging economies have joined the EP association, specially from the big emerging economies of China and India.
This paper examines the reasons behind the lack of EP adoption in the Indian context. It will attempt to find out answers to some of the basic questions: what are the challenges in adopting EP for Indian financial institutions / businesses? What are the opportunities? Is there a connect between EP adoption and the responsible banking approach? What are the ways of mainstreaming E&S concerns in the project financing operations of banks and financial institutions in India?
Chevening Alumni; UNPRI; EP; Government
Hobbies, Social Engagement
Travelling, Volunteering, Writing, Learning languages, Music