Union Bancaire Privée (UBP) joined the FAIRR Initiative in 2020. This case study explains how the team has utilised FAIRR membership for stewardship activities, focusing on UBP’s involvement as a signatory to the Sustainable Aquaculture engagement. Insights for this case study were provided by Adrien Cambonie, Co-Manager of Biodiversity Restoration Fund at Union Bancaire Privée.
What benefits have you experienced being part of the collaborative Sustainable Aquaculture Engagement, as opposed to engaging individually?
"For UBP’s Impact Investing team, active engagement with corporates is a key component of thematic research and of the subsequent investment process. Our approach makes use of systematic bilateral interactions but is complemented by collaborative engagement in areas where driving change is more difficult to do alone.
Although individual engagement is a powerful tool for investors, working groups like FAIRR’s Sustainable Aquaculture engagement enable accelerated and magnified outcomes. By joining forces with like-minded investors, the workstream increases the effectiveness of engagement through:
Greater accountability for companies
Unified top-down changes to disclosure requirements
Improved industry standards over time.
Having a unified approach is important in the context of sustainability as this can be a difficult space for corporates to navigate: balancing regulatory requirements and disclosure requests from different stakeholders.
Thanks to FAIRR’s expert oversight, the collaboration is based on informed conversations but also gives us access to the organisation’s expertise which drives efficient prioritisation. Sustainability in aquaculture is a topic with many spokes, so it is crucial that the group’s resources are used appropriately. This constitutes valuable learnings that we can leverage in subsequent bilateral engagements."
FAIRR ran an investor trip in May earlier this year to a Leroy Seafood facility- one of the companies targeted by the collaborative engagement. What, if any, benefits did you gain that you would not have been able to otherwise?
"It was extremely valuable getting the chance to go “on-the-ground” and visit Leroy Seafood’s facility. Although I spent a number of years analysing the aquaculture industry, there is a limit to what reports and analyst meetings can convey, especially in the context of sustainability where measurement and disclosure are a work in progress.
As such, the trip organised by FAIRR enabled a first-person experience of the different teams and facilities involved in aquaculture, and provided a tangible understanding of the production process and challenges faced. Similar to the importance of non-verbal messages in conversation, the visit enabled our group to get an organic sense of the company’s environment, culture and intentions.
The trip also fostered productive conversations with employees involved in the day-to-day operations of the business – individuals who can be difficult for investors to access – and encouraged interactions with like-minded industry peers.
In a post-Covid world, this was a great reminder that on-site visits are an essential piece of the engagement puzzle."
Joining FAIRR’s engagement project has been an important contributor to my understanding of the more pressing, but perhaps overlooked, issues of aquaculture sustainability, such as feed. Group research and preparation work has widened my perception and knowledge of these topics, while the constant approach to company conversations allowed me to get a clearer overview of the state of the industry.
How has your knowledge of the risks within salmon aquaculture developed since joining the engagement?
"Like most food chains, the aquaculture supply chain is relatively long and involves many moving parts – smolt management, feed strategy, biodiversity impacts and more – making it a difficult space to navigate as a generalist impact investor."
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