Responsible investing in South Africa : past, present and future

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 8
  • Abstract:

    Abstract: Despite strong growth in responsible investing (RI) internationally, only a few institutional investors in South Africa have adopted this investment philosophy. This article contributes to the limited body of African RI literature by identifying significant events that shaped the nature of the South African RI market from 1992 to 2014, investigating the RI strategies and investment criteria used by local RI fund managers and evaluating the ethical underpinnings of these funds. The publication of the three King reports on corporate governance in 1994, 2002 and 2009 and the launch of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment in 2006 had the biggest positive impact on the RI market’s development. Legislative changes and the formulation of institutional investor guidelines (such as the Code for Responsible Investing in South Africa) also provided some impetus, but not as much as initially anticipated. The vast majority of local RI funds have an impact investing strategy, employ socially-oriented investment criteria and have a utilitarian or Islamic ethic. The wider adoption of RI in South Africa is recommended given the benefits this investment discipline holds for investors, society and nature. Improved corporate reporting as well as investor and trustee education are, however, necessary to achieve this goal.