This article builds on the key takeaways from GIC’s Partnership Forum 2022, held in New York City in September 2022. The two-day event, themed “A Sustainable & Inclusive Future,” provided a platform for investors and business leaders from across GIC’s global network to connect, share innovative ideas, and hear first-hand perspectives on key long-term issues.

The event consisted of six sessions that explored a range of topics, including the future of sustainability and best practices in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I).


Focusing on the long term, from top to bottom. To drive meaningful progress on sustainability from a business lens, actions must be taken with the entire corporate ecosystem in mind – decisions cannot be made in a vacuum. Companies must integrate sustainability into all aspects of their business strategy, which often requires an organisation-wide mindset shift, particularly for mature, presently carbon-intensive businesses looking to transition to greener models.

To do so successfully requires strong leadership and a vision to see past short-term hurdles in order to meet longer-term goals. For example, more and more governments are introducing carbon pricing mechanisms to penalise high emitters and incentivise investments in climate solutions. While the future trajectory of carbon prices remains uncertain, such policy levers will increasingly internalise the externalities and support the notion that integrating sustainability will help to deliver good risk-adjusted returns over the long term.

Companies must also nurture a robust corporate culture that encourages buy-in from all levels, not just the top. By delivering a more sustainable business model, firms can drive significantly more value for all stakeholders, including employees, shareholders, supply chains, and the planet.

Nobody wins alone – the importance of partnerships. Addressing the climate crisis requires all hands on deck due to its sheer scale, complexity, and far-reaching impact on consumers, businesses, governments, and the wider economy.

Action by a single organisation drives impact in a silo; to tackle climate change at scale, public and private sector investors, regulators and businesses must come together to create partnerships anchored in shared values and common goals that drive value for everyone.

Through a cohesive partnership approach, businesses and investors can leverage shared learnings, leading to better risk management techniques, greater resilience, a deeper understanding of evolving capital markets, and an ability to adapt quickly to consumer demands.

Examples of such initiatives include the Asia Utilities Engagement Program by the Asia Investor Group on Climate Change (AIGCC), which aims to accelerate the decarbonisation of the region’s power sector through collective investor engagement; or FCLTGlobal’s latest industry toolkit, which guides investors and businesses on how to add resilience to their traditional focus on risk and return in light of today’s uncertain economic landscape.

Speaking a common ESG language. In the constantly evolving sustainability space, lack of universal standards, and inconsistency in the language used by journalists and corporates internally and externally can lead to confusion and lack of transparency.

For instance, what constitutes a “green” building is open to interpretation and potential misrepresentation due to a lack of a consistent global definition or a set of universal standards for green buildings.

Creating a global set of standards that enable quality, material, and comparable sustainability disclosures will be key for investors and regulators to more accurately assess companies’ ESG commitments and sustainability performance. Efforts by organisations such as the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) to create a universally applicable baseline for sustainability reporting are welcome developments.

Companies must also communicate how improvements in ESG performance impact corporate earnings to ensure synergies are understood, tensions are revealed, and opportunities are realised.

For instance, measuring and managing human capital issues, such as diversity and inclusion, human rights, and labour standards, and reporting on improvements is a critical component of a companies’ risk management strategy to avoid financial penalties, strengthen investor confidence, and build positive brand equity.

Investing in green innovations. Developing and deploying innovative climate technologies at scale will be critical for the world to get to net zero. The energy transition is generating demand for a wealth of products and solutions that support the electrification of power, transport, and industry, while ensuring more stable utility grids as well as reliable infrastructure and supply chains.

Solutions ranging from geothermal energy to carbon capture and storage or the use of more sustainable industry materials have drawn huge amounts of funding and, if deployed widely, could advance decarbonisation pathways. For the European Union for example, expanding mature and early-adoption technologies such as EVs in transportation could contribute 60% of the required emission abatement needed for climate neutrality by 2050.

Many businesses leading the charge to disrupt the global energy system are established in real time. Companies like Storegga, a carbon capture, removal and storage company, and H2 Green Steel, which uses green hydrogen to decarbonise steel production were founded just two years ago.

Facilitating the sustainability transition. In the race to get to net zero, we cannot rely solely on climate tech providers alone. It is essential that mature businesses begin to transition to greener operating models as well, particularly in carbon-intensive sectors. Though the upfront costs and operational complexities involved can be significant, over the long term, such business transformations will create more resilient companies and present strong opportunities to deliver good long-term returns.

With a mindset focused on the transition, and collaboration across communities, investors, and policymakers, these shifts will break old value chains and form new, more resilient ones.

Mature businesses and emerging climate solution providers alike will require significant capital from investors to make the sustainability transition and achieve greater scale respectively. However, capital is not enough. Investors must also actively engage their portfolio companies, understand and address the challenges they face, and work together in making the move towards more sustainable business models.

For example, GIC invested in a US utility company to support its transition away from coal to cleaner generation sources as well as a Korea-based chemical firm to help it replace its oil-based plastics with renewable raw materials. This nuanced and holistic approach to investing and working alongside businesses to support their stated sustainability goals creates long-term value for the company and the environment, while driving returns for GIC’s portfolio.


You must first measure to manage. The business case is clear — long-term value is tied to robust DE&I practices, and DE&I enables enhanced employee engagement, better brand perception, and increased innovation.

While diversity has traditionally referred to race and gender, companies are increasingly considering a wider range of factors, including diversity of thought which has been linked to socio-economic and academic backgrounds as well as professional experience.

Taking inventory and assessing corporate culture is step one in evaluating ways to incorporate or grow DE&I within current business models. Regular pulse surveys help employers to gain insight into what’s working well and identify areas for improvement across the company. By creating space for honest feedback, businesses can gain better insight into how integrated DE&I principles and practices are into a company’s culture. From there, identifying key performance indicators (KPIs) will enable them to measure whether the organisation is meeting its DE&I goals and address potential gaps.

The role of regulators. Governments and policymakers play an equally significant role in setting standards, providing crucial research on DE&I and fair hiring practices that allow for greater transparency within industries, encouraging targeted action at the corporate level, and requiring measured progress to work towards change.

In the UK, 2017 legislation made it mandatory for organisations with 250 or more employees to report annually on the difference between the average earnings of men and women across their workforce, as well as publicly disclose an employer action plan to address potential gender pay gaps. This important regulatory requirement shone a light on pay discrepancies and gender bias at large firms and mandates that companies commit to the fair treatment and reward for all staff, irrespective of gender.

We would like to thank all the speakers who participated in GIC’s Partnership Forum, especially our keynote speakers Ray Dalio, Founder, CIO Mentor and Member of the Bridgewater Board at Bridgewater Associates, and Lynn Forester de Rothschild, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Inclusive Capital Partners.

We also extend our gratitude to Christoph Gebald, CEO & Founder at Climeworks; Geoff Brown, CEO at Powin Energy; Haukur Hardarson, Chairman and Founder at Arctic Green Energy; Henrik Henriksson, CEO at H2 Green Steel; and Dr. Nick Cooper, CEO at Storegga. They participated in the panel titled “Beyond Wind and Solar,” which was moderated by Wolfgang Schwerdtle, Head of Direct Investments Group, LATAM, at GIC.

Likewise, we thank Allen Nye, CEO at Oncor Electric Delivery; Karen Green, Independent Non-Executive Director at Miller Insurance; Leslie Snavely, Chief Sales Officer at CHG Healthcare; and Kevin Walker, President and CEO at Duquesne Light Holdings. They shared their views in the panel titled “Leading Voices for Building an Inclusive Future,” moderated by Andrew Dench, Head of Asset Management for GIC Infrastructure.

We would also like to thank Harold V. Jones, Chief Sustainability Officer and Executive Vice President at Eaton Business System; Giulia Chierchia, Executive Vice President – Strategy, Sustainability and Ventures at BP; and Sean Fallmann, President and CEO at Altium Packaging. They were part of the panel titled “Getting to Green,” which was moderated by Chin Hau Boon, Head of Infrastructure, Americas, at GIC.