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BlackRock appoints sustainable investment heads for Asia Pacific

The new BlackRock Sustainable Investing team will be led by Geir Espeskog and Emily Woodland.

Investment management giant BlackRock has appointed two executives to run its sustainable investment arm for Asia Pacific.

Co-heading the APAC division of BlackRock Sustainable Investing are Geir Espeskog, who takes on the role in addition to his job running BlackRock’s iShares Asia Pacific distribution team, and Emily Woodland, who joins from AMP Capital, where she was head of sustainable investment, global public markets.

They succeed Thomas Fekete, who was head of sustainable investment solutions for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Asia Pacific. Fekete will now focus on BlackRock’s EMEA sustainable investment business.

Both executives are based in Hong Kong. 

BlackRock’s global head of sustainable investing Philipp Hildebrand said that Asia is a “keystone” in advancing the company’s growth in sustainable investing. In 2020, it announced its ambition to have US$1 trillion in sustainable assets under management by 2030.

Last year, BlackRock, which is the world’s largest asset manager, declared that it would “punish” high-emissions companies in its portfolio, and has announced a range of measures, from phasing out coal holdings to using its clout in annual meetings to show dissatisfaction with how companies were dealing with the climate crisis.

The company has reported a huge increase in growth in sustainable investing in 2020, with US$68 billion in net inflows into sustainable strategies — a 60 per cent year on year increase. As of December 31, 2020, BlackRock managed $200 billion in assets under management in sustainable funds.

The APAC appointments come the month after former BlackRock sustainable investing head Tariq Fancy warned that sustainable investing is “merely PR”.

He said in an opinion piece, that the finance industry is “greenwashing the public with deadly distraction in sustainable investing practices” instead of confronting the main issue, that the system fuelling climate change needs to change.

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