The role of ESG and purpose: Q&A with Fiorenzo Tagliabue

October 5, 2021

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SEC Newgate ESG Team

On 21st October at 10am (CET), SEC Newgate will launch its inaugural global ESG Monitor, a groundbreaking research project that examines how ESG is influencing perceptions of business and governments, and how it is shaping a future defined by impact.

In the lead-up to the UN COP26 climate change conference, the launch of ESG Monitor will feature a global panel of business leaders, influential journalists and strategic thinkers asking how ESG can help corporates and governments address our pressing environmental, social and economic challenges. The debate will delve into the ESG Monitor research findings which chart how 10,000 consumers in ten countries judge that the corporate, political and social worlds are rising to the ESG challenge. It will also explore the ways ESG needs to evolve if it is to effectively drive sustainable, secure and fair economic growth.
Ahead of this landmark debate, we asked Fiorenzo Tagliabue, founder and Group CEO of SEC Newgate why he believes that now is the time to have this critical discussion.

Fiorenzo, why are you and SEC Newgate so keen to look at the role of ESG and purpose in evolving the foundation for global trade and the economy?

Two years ago, SEC Newgate officially became a Group – a Group founded on the 30-year legacy of agencies that are leaders in their respective markets.
In these two years, we have expanded our global footprint to cover five continents, with 600+ professionals working in 38 offices. And we have won recognition as one of the world’s fastest growing strategic communications groups. We are 29th in the PRovoke ranking of global PR agencies for 2021. So, taking a global, strategic view and asking direct questions about the world around us is a core part of our group DNA.
We work at the nexus of business, politics, communities and markets and as such as we are witnessing a growing demand for strategic advice and advocacy on ESG – the policies and behavior relating to Environment, Social and Governance issues. For this reason, we are launching our first global thought leadership initiative: SEC Newgate ESG Monitor and hosting this debate on 21st October.

So what is the SEC Newgate ESG monitor and what do you hope it will achieve?

SEC Newgate ESG Monitor is an ambitious global survey, conceived by Tom Parker, our Group Deputy CEO for EMEA. Conducted by our top-notch researchers at SEC Newgate Australia, the survey investigates the ESG awareness and reputation of more than 10,000 respondents in 10 countries around the world (Colombia, US, France, UK, Germany, Italy, China, Singapore, Australia, Japan).
And this is just the beginning. SEC Newgate ESG Monitor will be a recurring event, allowing us to build on our already substantial know-how on ESG in order to accompany our clients as an influential and authoritative voice in the current and future global discussion.
SEC Newgate ESG Monitor is our first global thought leadership initiative that was the result of joint collaboration between multiple local offices of our Group. There will be more to come!

As you look ahead to COP26, a global climate change conference hosted by both the UK and Italy, what hopes do you have for the Conference and the impact it will have?

COP26 is widely seen as a critical juncture for the world. John Kerry, the US climate czar has described it as “the last best chance the world has to come together in order to do the things we need to do to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis.”
We’ve seen the devastaing IPCC report into climate change and calls from activists like Greta Thunberg for politicians to avoid the ‘blah, blah, blah” and focus on action and impact.
For all of these reasons and more, COP26 will be critical. We have to hope that it delivers new agreement on reducing carbon emissions and that it lays the foundations for a fair, and just decarbonisation of the global economy, incuding support for poorer nations.
For business, however, the world after COP26 is just as important. That moment when the diplomats pass the baton to the rest of the world to lead the decarbonisation agreed (we hope) at COP26 will be seismic.
Business will have to rise to this challenge. All businesses will need a plan. They will have to be totally transparent on the targets they set and the progress they make on delivering that plan because they will be watched: by customers, competitors, activists, politicians and by the public.
ESG is a foundation for how business sets that mission and delivers those goals but ESG has to be delivered with impact and the plans drawn up by businesses must be communicated to all stakeholders if the corporate world is to be trusted to keep its environmental, social and governance promises. COP26 isn’t the end of the discussion, it’s the point where the really hard work begins.