August 18, 2012
Emerging Markets ESG Updates Database of Contacts
by Robert Kropp
SocialFunds.com talks with Geoffrey Mazullo, whose twenty years of involvement with environmental,
social, and corporate governance issues in emerging markets have provided him with a wealth of data
and contacts compiled in a unique resource.
Last month, Emerging Markets ESG
published the most recent update of its Database of Contacts in the
Field of Socially Responsible Investment (SRI), an exhaustive compilation of 1,539
organizations, and 807 conferences and events, from 72 countries.
The database is
the brainchild of Geoffrey Mazullo, as is Emerging Markets ESG itself.
Following a stint
as Senior Analyst with Institutional
Shareholder Services (ISS) in the early nineties, Mazullo went on to teach at two universities
in Poland, positions that he still holds. More recently, he traveled to Egypt to help that
country's banks develop the corporate governance standards required of signatories to the Equator Principles, a global
framework for managing environmental and social risk in project finance transactions.
first compiled the database in 2002, when he was in Budapest as the director of Partners for
Financial Stability (PFS), a program administered by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). In
2009, after the PFS program had ended, Mazullo founded Emerging Markets ESG and continued to
maintain the database.
SocialFunds.com spoke with Mazullo this week, about the database
and the mission of Emerging Markets ESG. My first question to him addressed the inclusiveness of
the database; why, when practically every endeavor in the world having to do with sustainable
investment is included, does the mission specifically address environmental, social, and corporate
governance (ESG) conditions in emerging markets?
"This isn't only about what's happening
in the emerging markets themselves," Mazullo said. "It's about flows of capital, and knowledge
sharing and expertise, in developed markets as they impact emerging markets."
Mazullo continued, "How will ESG process and analysis, management, and disclosure, impact
institutional investors—specifically socially responsible or responsible investors—in other parts
of the world as they make investment decisions that might include emerging markets?"
breakup of the Soviet Union paved the way for Mazullo's involvement in ESG issues in the emerging
markets of Central and Eastern Europe.
"I went to Russia in 1992 as part of a delegation
to help the Russian Ministry of Privatization write corporate governance regulations," Mazullo
said. "Then, in 2000, I went to Budapest," where, as director of PFS, he first developed the
"The program was developed by USAID in part as a response to the Asian and
Russian crises," he said. "Not much was happening in Central and Eastern Europe at that time,
because there wasn't full-scale privatization of state pension schemes, so major domestic
institutional investors were not taking the issue of responsible investment on board."
"The guiding principles were identification of best practice, and adoption and implementation
of international standards," he continued. "As part of that mandate I added an additional layer of
looking at extra-financial reporting as well."
He added, "I was teaching corporate
governance at the universities in Poland as well, and graduates of the program could apply to
become interns to work on the database."
When the program ended, "I knew that I had access
to lots of data that was in the public domain, and I also knew that I had developed a huge network
of contacts that I wanted to continue working with." In part to maintain that network of contacts,
Mazullo then founded Emerging Markets ESG, and began offering the database as a free resource on
"We update it on a six-month basis with information from the public domain,"
he said. "Quite frankly, I don't know why some of the multi-lateral institutions and international
organizations don't have something like this. But they don't, which is another reason to keep doing
When someone has been as involved in ESG issues in emerging markets for as long as
Mazullo has, it is inevitable that he will be asked to provide his view on the progress made in the
space over the years. Mazullo pointed to a service on the website called Five Questions
about SRI, an interview series that features the insights of practitioners on the practice of
sustainable investment in emerging markets.
A perusal of the interviews demonstrates that
the issues confronting emerging markets and their adoption of ESG strategies are diverse, a
perspective with which Mazullo concurred. For instance, he pointed out, supply chain issues are
most often paramount in China; on the other hand, the most critical ESG issues in Poland are often
informed by citizens' access to international media outlets.
Mazullo noted that the
concept of Fair Trade was little understood by his students in Poland ten years ago. Now, he
pointed out, every student knows about it.
Referring to improved understanding of supply
chain management issues, Mazullo said, "When I read an article in the mainstream media drawing
references from conditions at Foxconn to executive compensation at Apple, I realize that gains have
"Gains have been made across the board," he continued, "And I think they've
been made because of standard-setting organizations and all the constituencies; not only
institutional investors, but local constituencies as well." Those local constituencies--including
nongovernmental organizations, public-private partnerships, and even listed companies
themselves--can all be accessed in the latest update of the database.