ESG Investing Change-maker

Srikanya Yathip

Secretary General at Government Pension Fund
“Investors and companies now agree ESG is not merely a trend or PR exercise, but an essential practice that contributes to society and the planet.”

Srikanya positions pension fund as ESG leader

Srikanya Yathip has been instrumental in elevating investments by the Government Pension Fund (GPF) to meet sustainability objectives. Her efforts have enabled the fund to position itself as a leader in environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives.

Prior to joining GPF, Dr Srikanya spent more than 10 years studying and working in Japan and the United Kingdom. She joined GPF in 2010 and was appointed Secretary-General in 2020.

Dr Srikanya is at the forefront of responsible investing in Thailand. She introduced her vision that GPF should become the leader in ESG investing and initiatives in Thailand in 2019.

Her successes include integrating the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI)'s ESG integration framework and OECD's responsible business conduct into GPF's investment process.

She has also headed development of ESG valuation framework, formula and methodology, receiving technical assistance from the World Bank.

Moving GPF ahead towards meeting SDG, she initiated a revision of Strategic Asset Allocations by the GPF to include an investment paradigm shift and SDG compliance.

Her current project, through cooperation with UN Financial Initiatives, is developing the Human Rights heatmap and common Human Rights integration framework for the Thai capital market.

Dr Srikanya has a strong linguistic educational background in many languages, including English, French, Spanish, and Japanese. This helps her to access deep knowledge in various fields, including business and financial management.

With the intention to move GPF in line with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), she has taken steps to revamp the fund's strategic asset allocation. This includes a change in investment methods as well as making sure that the GPF abides by SDG regulations.

Dr Srikanya has integrated ESG integration techniques under the UN Principles for Responsible Investment and OEDC's Responsible Business Conduct standards for GPF's investment procedure. She has also overseen the planning of an ESG measurement system.

She has raised ESG awareness and elevated capital market standards in the country by promoting ESG investing for the GPF, which has a portfolio of more than 1.1 trillion baht and about 1.2 million government employees and retirees under its wing.

Under her management, GPF is aware that its key role is not restricted only to pursuing the highest returns on investments for members and the government. It must also act as a responsible investor which, through effective monitoring, contributes to sustainable growth of the country.

All of these reflect GPF’s intention to become the leader in ESG investment and initiatives in Thailand. GPF allocates part of its fund to constitute an index fund which references an ESG index.

The fund, called the ESG-Focused Portfolio, tracks the Thailand Sustainability Index (THSI) of the Stock Exchange of Thailand. Under this framework, the fund may invest in a business only if it is listed in the SET100 and THSI and also passes the GPF-ESG Standard Criteria. This is to ensure the businesses in which GFP invest are regarded as Responsible Business Owners (RBOs) whose operations satisfy its ESG-focused criteria.

According to Dr Srikanya, ESG adoption in business practices is no longer an option, but rather a must. She has noticed a paradigm change in Thailand regarding corporate thinking about ESG.

She said investors and companies now agree ESG is not merely a trend or PR exercise, but an essential practice that contributes to society and the planet.

According to her experience, more companies and investors are working together to put ESG concepts into practice.

In the past when companies wanted to adopt common ESG standards, they would develop them alone. Now there are many frameworks from global organisations which companies can integrate into their own strategies, she said.

She said the ESG concept is not static, but rather a moving target that keeps evolving. All organisations are aware of this and are working together to achieve the ESG goals, said Mrs Srikanya.

One of the main challenges in ESG adoption is how companies can put ESG concepts into practice.

For example, if a company wants to focus on climate change, it might not know where to start or what to do. All stakeholders working together are more likely to find a solution, she said.